The air is redolent with the scents of red clover, wild roses, bedstraw and various other flowers here in Northern Vermont. The landscape makes for a magical wedding venue. Imagine the sound of moving water as a backdrop to your perfectly customized ceremony, echoing the emotional commitment that you share…..Imagine the ancient mountains, blanketed in leaf green and reflecting the blue of the sky; surrounding and supporting you as you take your vows. Waterfalls, mountaintops, lakeside parks and the romantically restored historic barns are just some of the options available to couples planning a Vermont wedding.
Certain rituals lend themselves well to outdoor ceremonies including a Nature Exchange – offering each other a found symbol from nature that symbolizes your love for each other. This symbol can be used later as a reminder of your spoken vows. Another ritual might be a Hand Blessing which can involve the use of natural waters or setting up a small table with a beautiful basin. Vows and Kisses has added a new Boutique, offering lovely and unique artisan items, including blessing bowls and tables, online for purchase. Whether you plan a large gathering or an intimate commitment ceremony with just the two of you, Summer in Vermont offers romance at its best.
I love new beginnings, especially when the energy is fresh, joyful and light. Weddings and commitment ceremonies are our joyful, light-filled rituals to honor the official beginning of the lives of two people coming together in unison as a family. One of the things I am most excited about as a new officiant is the honor of guiding the process of the ceremony. I am also excited to facilitate sacred ceremonies in the many beautiful venues in Vermont and Northern New Hampshire, especially now through Fall when the trees are at their finest, the birds are in full song and the views are spectacular! Here is a passage from To Bless the Space Between Us, by John O’Donohue:
…When the heart is ready for a fresh beginning, unforeseen things can emerge. And in a sense, this is exactly what a beginning does. It is an opening for surprises. Surrounding the intention and the act of beginning, there are always exciting possibilities. … beginnings have their own mind, and they invite and unveil new gifts and arrivals in one’s life. Beginnings are new horizons that want to be seen…
Lucinda Martin was recently interviewed by KSRO’s Robert Nations of the Aging Matters Show. Click on the podcast to hear her discuss Vows & Kisses, Graceful Mournings and the spiritual companioning and counseling provided by her Associates. The show ends as her calm, warm voice guides listeners into a deep breathing exercise that can be used for stress relief and meditation. Take a deep breath and enjoy the 30 minute podcast!
It’s National Nurses Week! We would like to take a moment to thank nurses for the amazing work they do and for following the call to help, help help! Many of our associate ministers have been or are volunteers in hospitals and senior care facilities and witness the dedication and sacrifices that nurses make. We encourage you to share stories or comments in honor of our special guardians.
My personal thanks go out to the nurse that helped my dear father-in-law as he struggled with an anxiety attack in a Seattle hospital a couple of years ago. He had led an active, healthy lifestyle until he was diagnosed with a rare disease in his seventies. His penchant for traveling to Australian deserts and lone Mexican beaches had ill-prepared him (no pun intended) for disease and hospitals. (Is anyone ever prepared?) One night, after a hospital procedure, he was shaking uncontrollably and in a panic. His nurse seemed to sense what the trouble was and climbed into bed next to him. She wrapped her arms around him and held him while whispering soothing words in Spanish. My father-in-law was finally able to relax and fall asleep. The interactions he had with the nurses and physical therapists were the only thing that kept him sane during those long weeks.
When he speaks about that experience, his gratitude is so palpable that it has spread to the rest of the family. We are eternally grateful for that nurse’s care and kind gestures. Blessings and Happy National Nurses Week!
Book Recommendation: 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married By Monica Mendez Leahy
Blog Article by Rev Lucinda Martin
As Interfaith Ministers providing services as wedding officiants, and funeral-memorial celebrants, we are often called to provide Spiritual Counseling and Spiritual Coaching/Companioning also known as Spiritual Direction.Many couples find it helpful to have a few sessions with their wedding minister prior to their wedding.Some couples choose to begin private sessions after their wedding.
One book I like to recommend to both married and engaged couples is “1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married” by Monica Mendez Leahy. It is a rather quick read, easy to navigate and fun for couples to engage in the quizzes and to share with each other.
In addition to being informative and insightful for couples, it serves as an excellent tool for couples to discover topics to bring to their Spiritual Counselor for discussion and exploration.
Enjoy the article below by the author; it provides good information about the book, how to order the book, audiobooks and additional resources. It is also available in Spanish.
I hope you enjoy this and may it serve as a reminder that Vows & Kisses Wedding Ministers are here to support and serve you with Spiritual Companioning. Contact your minister for schedules and fee information.
Warm blessings on your love and relationship
Press Release: 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get MarriedBy Monica Mendez Leahy
The institution of marriage has been in the national spotlight like never before. Politicians are defining what it means and attempting to shape its parameters. Millions are glued to their television sets to see if total strangers can get together and make it down the aisle. The state of “happily ever after” seems to be on everyone’s mind. Marriage is still meant to honor love, commitment, and lifelong partnership, but it requires dedication and hard truths. Those contemplating marriage need to face tough questions about what it means to be married, their partnerships, their values, and their future. Is marriage the right direction for you and your partner? Are you ready?
Love can be bliss, but marriage takes work. Communication, compromise, and joint decision-making are key ingredients to a successful marriage. Unfortunately, couples often overlook these things when planning a wedding. This book provides pointed questions, hypotheticals, and self-exploratory quizzes that will help individuals define themselves and their goals, find out more about their partners and their goals, in order to reasonably manage matrimonial expectations.
Author and relationship expert Monica Mendez Leahy has helped hundreds of couples explore their common goals and perspectives as well as their unique differences as they prepare for their life journey together. Marriage involves a constant state of maneuvering, change, and honoring differences. From exes and past relationships to pets, raising children, money issues, living together before marriage, and physical intimacy – each person brings his or her own unique set of personality traits and requirements.
1,001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married brings to the table important issues that will arise in every marriage–including the ones that may blindside you. A variety of fun, interactive formats, including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and hypotheticals, explore fundamental questions about nature, thought processes, lifestyle, and marital expectations.
Join us in attending the Wine Country Wedding Experience Showcase at Trione!
Congratulations on your engagement! Now the exciting part: planning the perfect day! With all of the stresses associated with planning a wedding, a group of women got together to pull our strengths and present to you the perfect Wine Country wedding experience all in one place. In an afternoon, we invite you to meet and speak with an exclusive group of local vendors who work closely together to ease the stresses of planning that special day, while sipping on tasty bubbles from Gloria Ferrer! Our partners will offer exclusive discounts for day of bookings!!
Trione Vineyards & Winery 19550 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441 April 12, 2014 – 10am-3pm Early Bird Special: $20 per couple (or 2 tickets)
• Place: The Conscious Center | 58 Macy Street (Rte. 110) Unit 6C| Amesbury, MA 01913 978.792.5401
• Audience: Any person (ordained or not) who would like to learn how to create a meaningful ceremony and avoid “cake-in-the-face embarrassment”.
• Workshop Outcomes: This will be a fun day of learning with interactive activities and networking. Participants will receive information regarding”
o Steps for Wedding Ceremony Success
o Legal Compliance & Marriage License
o Wedding Officiant Roles & Responsibilities
• Facilitators: Rev. Lucinda Martin, Ordained Interfaith minister and founder of “Vows & Kisses Wedding Officiants” – www.vowsandkisses.com and Pami-Peace Parker, Ordained Interfaith minister and Director of The Conscious Center – www.peaceminister.com
• Recommended Tithe: $65 per person
• To Register (only 15 seats available): Please contact Pami at firstname.lastname@example.org or call The Conscious Center and leave a message: 978.792.5401.
— with Lucinda Martin at The Conscious Center.
Yesterday, “Vows & Kisses” had a tradeshow booth at Wine Country Bride, bridal fair in Sonoma County. I had the great pleasure of meeting and greeting many couples anxious to plan their wedding day and visiting with vendors that have the same passion as ours; offering the best services we can to ensure beautiful wedding ceremonies and receptions.
One couple called that morning asking to schedule a meeting with me in advance. They were nervous they might not have the opportunity to book me for their June wedding, since it falls during peak season and there was a good chance that other couples at the bridal tradeshow would be looking for an officiant for the same day. This couple wanted to meet in person right away, to have the opportunity to interview me, ensuring I would meet their requirements for a wedding officiant. The bride-to-be explained, “We met with other wedding officiants but they just weren’t the right fit. We attended a wedding once that we really liked because it was so personal, not just a ceremony script. And so we are still in search of the right fit.”
A Personalized Ceremony
For this couple, having a custom-created ceremony that tells their story, communicates their love and includes a unique symbolic ritual (not religious – but spiritual), is part of their vision. In addition to their love story and intentions, they may choose to include wedding rituals such as a Wine Box Ceremony and a Hand Blessing.
I admire their desire to take the relationship with their wedding minister seriously. Their ceremony is a priority, not the formality needed as a prerequisite for a beautiful dress and an audacious party. What really intrigued me was their expressed desire (requirement) to meet several times to develop a relationship – “we don’t want to be married by a stranger. We want someone that knows us, understands us.”
My heart was filled with joy, as it confirmed for me the sense that Vows & Kisses Associates will be serving in a very profound way – to help people that are hungry to be fed, spiritually. As Interfaith Ministers, we are well educated and experienced to become the “family minister” or spiritual guide for couples that have no desire to attend traditional churches.
Not all couples desire a Spiritual Guide – and we graciously provide professional ceremonies that are personalized for all of our couples. It is also very apparent to me that many couples desire an interspiritual practice; a personally defined relationship with God, Great Spirit, Divine Mind, Creative Intelligence, (many names for the same expression of Divine Love.) They are looking for ways to be spiritually fed.
This is the “and more” part of our Vows & Kisses logo… wedding officiants and more. We will be sharing many of life’s transitions and rites of passage together: from exploring how this couple defines marriage, their love, and their relationship. After the wedding, I will be there to serve them as a Spiritual Companion – to listen and ask questions, helping them to reveal their answers from within to some of life’s most difficult questions.
Perhaps I will have the honor to create a baby blessing someday: a celebration of new life where family and friends will offer their Vows to love, support and care for the child– sealed with a kiss.
What a fabulous weekend for me and the couples that I was privileged to serve!
For starters, I was hired by a man looking to celebrate his 5th Wedding Anniversary with a surprise Vow Renewal ceremony for his wife. After careful consideration of what to call the ceremony, he changed the “title” to a Re-dedication Ceremony, He wanted a private ritual for just he and his wife and was hoping to not offend any relatives that were not going to be invited in the process. He was hoping that the new term would ease any reaction when word got out what had transpired. During the closing days of the week before the ritual, he disclosed his plan to his wife because they are not in the habit of keeping secrets from each other… How Sweet!
I researched a park that I had been in about four years ago for a photo shoot and found several “perfect” spots in Wellness Park in Palm Springs. Several areas in the small desert-scaped park located near Desert Regional Hospital are quite beautiful including rock formations, plantings, a labyrinth and a small fountain. We choose the fountain and gathered there Friday at dusk. Heartfelt exchanges by husband and wife I their own words and acknowledgement by me for the many things that grace their lives together. I included a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, a prose poem reading from The Prophet about marriage and closed with a John Lennon song, “Grow Old Along with Me”.
And then, on Saturday morning, under a splendid blue sky and at the same park, I meet a male couple that were celebrating their 32nd Anniversary together that day and joined them in marriage. We met at the entrance to the park and proceeded to the same fountain area. The men were joined by six friends and relatives. The two grooms promised “to continue” to honor and love one another. They exchanged rings as well. They had a Breaking of Glasses Jewish Ritual at the end of the short ceremony. “Breaking the glasses” signifies, among other things, that life is fragile and requires a great amount of care if a relationship is to succeed. Family, friends and I concluded the ritual with a traditional “Mazel Tov” ! ["Congratulations And Good Luck!”]
I concluded the ceremony by addressing the power of the agreement they had just made, their love for each other, and the seriousness with which they made this continued commitment. I pronounced them husband and husband which, of course, was followed by kisses!
Vows & Kisses California Ministers are very excited to be able to continue efforts in support of gay marriages. Reverend Susan Tracy has been busy officiating gay weddings at the State Capital Rose Garden, I just officiated my first legal marriage of two beautiful women at the Palm Event Center, Pleasanton. And, Reverend Ron King officiated the first gay wedding at Indian Wells, in Palm Springs area.
I am personally inspired by Reverend Ron King’s posting, as the wedding couple’s family and friends recognized the beauty and importance of a personalized wedding ceremony. Congratulations Reverend Ron!
“Last evening, I had the pleasure of officiating at the first same-sex wedding held at the IW Club in Indian Wells, CA. The men were from St. Lewis. MO and their guests included people from St. Lewis and the Palm Springs area. One of the grooms is a well-known florist and he created the most amazing and beautiful floral arrangements for the wedding area and the banquet table. The dinner was the best I think I ever had, anywhere.
One of the guests took to the microphone before the dinner began and talked about his relationship with the men and then noted that the wedding ceremony was the most beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony that he had ever experienced and the 30 guests started to applaud in affirmation. I was a bit overwhelmed (and loved every clap!)”