During my rabbinic career I have officiated at several hundred Jewish and ecumenical/secular wedding ceremonies, yet each wedding is a distinctly unique experience.
I shape and personalize each wedding ceremony to meaningfully reflect the couple’s individual and relational qualities, values and aesthetic sensibilities. Each couple’s feelings, aspirations and joy are expressed in a singular voice that is respectful and celebratory.
The ceremony acknowledges and honors the diversity represented among families and friends so that everyone feels welcome and involved.
The process of preparing the ceremony involves meeting with a couple two or three times prior to the wedding ceremony. Given many couples do not live in the Philadelphia area, I make every effort to accommodate their travel schedules and time frame. Meeting in person is preferred, but I also meet through Skype and regularly communicate through email and phone conversations to share information, help with Ketubah orders, and fielding questions as they arise.
The agenda for the meetings include:
1. Discussing the meaning, rituals and sequence of the wedding ceremony.
2. Tailoring specific customs, readings and preferences for each couple, often integrating personal and family ritual objects into the ceremony.
3. Listening to the couple’s story from each partner’s perspective and experience. I ask questions that elicit a couple’s responses to be woven into their personalized wedding address. Often couples will hear their own words and expressions during the ceremony!
4. Based on a couple’s needs and preferences, we may talk about a couple’s specific concerns. My therapeutic skills are useful in these discussions.
The issues vary, but sometimes include family dynamics, recent changes, challenges in the relationship or wedding plans, and working through differences in personality, families, culture, religion and ethnicity, among others.
5. Connect, communicate and have fun!
The day or evening of the ceremony, I arrive early to check the setting for the ceremony, meet with the bride and groom (separately or together) and family members. This pre-ceremony time includes signing the state license and if chosen by the couple, the Ketubah. Some couples also enjoy a “pre-ceremony ritual and fertility blessing” with their families and wedding party prior to the wedding ceremony.
My wedding ceremony, from processional to recessional is approximately 30 minutes, but varies slightly if a couple chooses to add extra readings, rituals or participation of family friends.
My goal as a wedding officiant is to foster unmitigated joy for the couple and their families and friends during this wonderfully hopeful, and courageous rite of passage!
Recommended resource: The New Jewish Wedding, Revised by Anita Diamant