About 6 months ago, I learned that one of my beloved yoga teachers was also an officiant at weddings! If you study yoga, you know what 'centering' is - the words of wisdom said before yoga class to help you focus, perhaps create an intention, open, think productively, become inspired, so on and so forth. This start (and end, and everything in between) of a yoga class gets you a bit closer to the teacher, in addition to yourself. You get a sense of their perception, how they think, move, feel, etc. So you can only imagine how *OMG* excited I became when I heard this good news! Below are just a few questions I asked the lovely yogi-officiant with a fabulous Australian accent!
What led you to doing this? I have been an ordained minister since 2002 but I didn’t do anything with it right away. Perhaps I didn't feel ready to really marry people, or officiate anything with that kind of importance. Late last year I was talking to one of my yoga students. She had approached me to tell me in confidence that she and her boyfriend were planning to elope to Australia and wanted my advice on travel information (since I'm Australian). It turns out I was going to be in Australia at the same time and, long story short, it came out that I was minister and she asked me to marry them. My credentials weren't actually recognized in Australia so they did the official certification with someone else but she still wanted me to perform the ceremony.
It was just the 3 of us and a photographer atop a cliff, overlooking the ocean in Byron Bay, Australia. I put so much thought and creative feeling into what I wanted to say and together we created a really memorable, honest and authentic ceremony. They wrote their own vows, knew what readings they wanted etc. but it was up to me to really speak from the heart and tie it all together. It was an extremely touching and tender and funny and honest ceremony that I still get excited thinking about.
And, from there I knew I wanted to do more of this.
Once friends knew that I could do this, I was then asked again by my roommates, and close friends if I could officiate their 'surprise' wedding (none of the guests knew they were coming to a wedding). This was the first ceremony I performed in front of a crowd...and, it wasn't just any crowd it was a lot of my close friends. This was extremely nerve racking for me....but I focused on the integrity of the words I had written and what I really felt about the couple getting married and, this too is a wedding I still get excited thinking back on.
From there, things have taken off. I am mostly recommended by word of mouth and you, of course.
What do you enjoy most about this? I don't know that I can only speak to one thing that I enjoy - without sounding cliché. I suppose I enjoy the relationship I build with the couple. I'm really intent on them having a ceremony that reflects who they are as a couple, it's not about what I want to say - it's more about what I feel needs to be said for them. So, I spend many days reflecting back on our conversations and listening to the quieter parts of conversation - so much more is said in the casual conversation rather than anything formal and I just focus on getting to know the couple in that kind of manner. Nothing stodgy or formal. I enjoy the thinking and the creative writing process, and all the research of readings and poetry. Speak to the process?
Well, I first like to sit and meet the couple in person. I like to allow 2-4 hours of casual catch up. And, really, I don't come with prepared questions or a goal. My feeling is that, if we all like each other as regular people - it's going to work out. If our energies are right, they're going to get the right ceremony. So, I start there. As a yoga teacher and an avid reader of poetry and inspired readings, I have a library of quotes, readings, poetry, music etc. So, I'll then send the couple a document with some suggested readings/poetry - I like them to tell me what they like, don't like etc. and get really honest. From there, I can start to feel what kind of content they will align with (I also suggest they grab a glass of wine, or find a quiet night where they can read the poetry to each other and really get involved in this part - it's very romantic).
I think a lot about the couple after that; our conversations, what we all laughed at, what concerns they had, who is important in their lives....etc. I also send them questions that I like them to answer separately.
From the first meeting until the ceremony I think of these little things - while I'm driving, having a coffee on my own, all the mundane moments in a day. I have little thought bubbles that I write down. I keep a notebook with me at all times and there are dedicated pages to the couples I'm working with and I'll write these down.
I usually have the ceremony (at least the part that I say) written a few days before. Then the day of the wedding I sit in a quite space and look and read what I have down and then I feel it out. I'm usually making the right changes to what i want to say - it's got to feel right or it won't sound right.
How little or much involvement couple (and extended family) can have with you during this process? This is dependent on the couple. Some want to be really involved, others not so. But, I think it's important that they have the readings that most authentically reflect who they are. I have package prices that reflect minimal meetings/communication to unlimited. It's not so easy for me to manage all of that because I get excited and interested with every ceremony I'm creating but I'm allowed to break my own rules!
Do you ever work along with a religious officiate or rabbi or priest, etc.? I haven't yet, but I'm open to it.
Do you have any religious affiliations? No, I am non-denominational but that doesn't mean I won't include religious prayers etc. if the couple feel that's what they want. I just don't speak to a particular God in my own 'sermon'.
Are there any couples you won’t marry? I won't agree to marry a couple who don't feel should be getting married. I'm not afraid to say no. But, I'll marry same-sex and other alternative couples...I'll marry anyone who is truly in love.
Do you offer advice or counseling for the couple? No, not officially. I am not a counselor but there are books I recommend. My job is to create a real and authentic wedding ceremony. I don't believe the wedding day is reflective of a couple's marriage.I believe it is reflective of their JOY about being married. It should be fun, light, and a generous reflection of how they love each other.....everyone will feel and remember that - not the food they ate or the flower arrangements...although, they are all a part of the celebration too.
Lyn Girdler will perform her 2nd ceremony with us this coming Saturday, September 14th in Sag Harbor, NY.
To learn more, please visit her website and blog Love Yourself Naturally www.LoveYourselfNaturally.com and by all means, study yoga! And if you want to study yoga with Lyn, you may find her at a few studios in Fairfield County, CT and most often at Saraswati's Yoga Joint in both South Norwalk and New Canaan, CT. www.sarasyogajoint.com
- Ashley Douglass Events is a boutique events company, planning weddings, mitzvahs, social and corporate events throughout Connecticut, New York and beyond. Years of experience in both design & coordination, ADE is the right event planner / wedding planner for detailed oriented couples. We are your project managers with a heaping dose of creativity thrown in the mix. We plan social gatherings, corporate events and weddings all over the eastern seaboard. We have offices in both Greenwich, CT and Huntington, NY. We are also members of the North Shore Wedding Collective. Learn more by contacting us today at 917.748.6281 or click here for our short form. Call us today to book your HOLIDAY EVENT, small or large, social or corporate, in your private home or at a fabulous venue!