When Nic and I got engaged one of her cousins was so excited that he offered to perform our ceremony after being ordained online for a friends wedding. We were so overwhelmed by his enthusiasm for our ceremony that we decided to take him up on his offer! We as a couple are not super religious and we wanted our ceremony to be lighthearted and fun. He is a super funny guy and thought that he would be perfect! He was so excited when we told him we wanted him to be our officiant.
Months later he came to us and explained that because of his jokester personality he felt as though he wouldn’t do our ceremony justice. We were crushed, at first, but the more we thought about what he said the more it made sense to us. The ceremony should be serious and heartfelt as we were standing before our friends and family and committing to a new life together. He made us look at the ceremony in a new light.
For a long time it seemed like marriage was something intangible, and just outside of our reach. New Jersey has civil union laws, but we had just watched as our state court presented their cases for same-sex marriage and then promptly voted it down. We felt defeated, and saddened that our marriage as we were hoping it would be called by the time we said our vows would still be considered a civil union by law. I can’t tell you how many discussions I have had to have after we announced our engagement that started out like this… “you’re marrying Nicole? Is that legal?”
That question in particular always hit me hard. The fact that my love could be seen as something illegal always bothered me. I never really understood the significance a word like marriage could hold until the moment we got engaged. If I could simply say that Nicole and I were getting married people would get it. Nine times out of ten telling someone I was engaged would not evoke the lines of questioning I expected like “have you set a date,” “what kind of dress are you looking for,” or “have you picked colors yet?” Instead I found myself becoming an advocat for same-sex marriage by answering questions about what a civil union actually is, why civil unions are separate but not at all equal or explaining that neither of us are the groom.
I really don’t mind explaining these things to help people understand more about our rights, and what a word like marriage really means to couples like us. It is a new role for me. I usually prefer to shy away from hot topics or political discussions of any kind. So after coming to terms with the fact that our state will still define us as civil union partners we decided that we don’t have to use those terms. Our ceremony should represent what it really is: a marriage of two hearts!
So we set out to find an officiant that would help us craft a ceremony that reflected who we were and what our commitment to each other really means.
When I was looking at vendors online I saw a lot of them who advertised that they did civil union ceremonies but never showed any pictures of them performing any. This has always been something that bothered me about looking for vendors… especially photographers! One of the officiants I found who performed civil unions and did not mind posting photos of it on her website was Jessie Blum at Eclectic Unions. So we scheduled a meeting with her.
I knew I liked her from the moment we sat down with her. She was warm, kind, and passionate about her craft. She told us that she started her career when her best friend asked her to perform her wedding ceremony. Going into the meeting Nicole and I had no idea what kind of ceremony we wanted, or what traditions we wanted to include. A few nights before I had a nightmare that we never decided what was going to be said at our ceremony and we had to walk down the aisle and just wing it. Jessie put all of that anxiety to rest! She showed us examples and gave us tons of options to put together our ceremony including a huge list of rituals we could pick from. Many of which I have never even heard of! If she had a contract on her when we met we probably would have signed her on the spot!
We just got the second draft of our ceremony back and I couldn’t be happier! She took all of our information about how we met and turned it into a beautiful ceremony! she found a way to express beautifully to our guests what our marriage really means to us. One of the traditions we fell in love with is the sand ceremony. We have a big empty vase and a few smaller vases with two different colored sands. Each of our mothers will come up and pour our respective colors into the vase forming two separate layers as our foundation and support. Then Nic and I will pour our two sand colors together as Jessie says one of my favorite lines from our ceremony: “Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be a molding of two individual personalities, bonding together and forming one heart and one life.”
I think that is really the heart of the whole day. Because adding Nicole to my life made me into something different, better, stronger, and for that I could never find the words to express. Thank goodness for officiants who can! I am so excited to have Jessie be a part of our big day!