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FAQs

mother and child at ceremony

photo © Robbie Merchison


Q I love the idea of a one-of-a-kind wedding ceremony, but I don’t think I can write my own vows. Can you help?
A
Yes! After I get to know you a bit, I will send you many options for every part of the ceremony. You can pick and choose from what I send; edit, condense, compile, or otherwise modify my selections; or use them to spark your own creativity.

Q What if I want to include something from another tradition or religion in my wedding ceremony?
A
The only limit is our imaginations – and my one guideline: respect. I am comfortable with all kinds of traditions and religions. Whatever you choose, I will look for ways to explain the symbolism and history to your guests so they can understand and respect what you are doing (rather than feel excluded or uncomfortable).

Q Why would I want to do a ceremony?
A
Ceremonies help us to honor a significant milestone in our lives, whether that is losing a tooth or having a mastectomy, getting promoted or getting fired, getting married or getting divorced, having a baby or sending your child off to college.

Generally ceremonies revolve around:
• relating with others (weddings, divorce, baptisms)
• changing (birthdays, promotions, moves
• healing (funerals, recovering from trauma)
• celebrating (holidays, happy occasions)

They don’t need to be elaborate. Taking the time to mark the occasion (happy or sad) in ways that are deeply meaningful to you is the making of a ceremony.

Q I’m not particularly religious. Am I going to feel uncomfortable with a ceremony?
A You may feel uncomfortable because a ceremony is an intentional use of ritual. Ritual has been a part of humanity since time began. Most of our current rituals are either unconscious or associated with a particular church.

I work with each client to discover his or her religious background, current spiritual beliefs and practices (or lack thereof), and comfort zone. Those are incorporated or avoided as appropriate in whatever ceremony we design. I draw from a wide variety of resources that come from many faiths and cultures, modern and ancient.

Q I just want ideas so that I can create my own ceremony. Can you help me?
A
Certainly. I am happy to work with you to design the perfect ceremony that you perform for yourself or that someone else performs for you. And there are many books about ceremonies that will be of great benefit.

Q I feel a little foolish. Designing a ceremony feels like I’m making too big of a deal out of this milestone.
A If an event is important to you, it counts! By acknowledging the event, you acknowledge and validate yourself, too.

As I said before, it does not have to be elaborate. It may be enough to light a candle and say a prayer on the due date of the baby you miscarried 14 years ago. Or to make a fabulous candlelight dinner for one in honor of your first promotion. Or to write down 50 wonderful memories of your favorite aunt on her 50th birthday.

On the other hand, there are times when nothing but a full-scale ceremony feels right.

Most people choose one when they get married. I think it is very powerful to do one when you get divorced.

Baby showers are a form of ceremony for the mother-to-be. With a little additional planning, they can include the blessings and heartfelt wishes of a woman’s support group as she goes through the life-transforming event of childbirth.

Q I know I want something special but I don’t know where to start.
A
Brainstorming with someone who loves ceremonies is a great place to start. Also, just tune into your world once you decide you want to create a ceremony. You’ll be amazed at how the perfect things practically fall into your lap. You’ll flip on the radio and there will be the perfect song. A friend will loan you a book with the perfect reading in it. Your eyes will land on the perfect symbol for this milestone. It will be as if the whole world is conspiring to help you honor your life experiences.

Q Is it complicated to create a ceremony?
A
What matters most in the creation of a ceremony is your intention. Like a good speech, a ceremony typically includes a beginning (some way to express the purpose for the ceremony), a middle (the actual work), and an end (usually a blessing or statement of thanks). Sure, there are lots of helpful tools for the middle part. But if you don’t happen to have access to sage for ceremonially cleansing your new apartment (which, when it burns, smells suspiciously like an illegal substance), you can use salt water, or burn some incense or a candle. No special supplies are required.

Q Do I need you to create a ceremony?
A
No, not at all. Ideally, you will honor and celebrate many milestones through your life. I’d love to get you started or to co-create the really big ones with you.

Q How much does a ceremony cost?
A
That depends on the ceremony. (For wedding prices, see fees.)

As you might imagine, ceremonies vary widely (and wildly) in length, complexity, and time required. The range is between $75 and $500, not including any travel or long distance charges. I can make an estimate once I know what you have in mind.

Q How do I contact you?
A
Start by sending me an email: mary@YourJoyfulWedding.com.




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