Congratulations on your engagement!
Merry meet ~ Rev Su Windsong is a duly ordained New Age Wiccan minister with a foundation in early Christian teachings. She is also an experienced Wedding Officiant, having performed over six dozen weddings. She can help you craft the perfect ceremony for your perfect day. Here are some pearls of wisdom from Rev Su!
BEFORE THE BIG DAY
In North Carolina, a marriage license is required if you are an unmarried man and an unmarried woman who are not first cousins or closer relations who wish to become legally married. Did you know? You don't have to be a North Carolina resident to get a marriage certificate in any NC county.
Both parties must appear in person with a driver's license and Social Security card as proof of both age and identity. If you don't have one of those, ask your local Register of Deeds what you can bring instead. There are special considerations if you are younger than 21 or have been previously divorced. If for some reason one of you cannot appear in person (out of the country on military duty, for example), please read the NC law on proxy marriage in General Statute 51, Article 2, Section 8.2.
Follow these hyperlinks to the Wake County ROD or Durham County ROD to learn about applying for your license. Most urban counties allow you to "apply" online. But that doesn't mean you don't have to appear in person! Also, you must bring $60 cash with you, and the license is only good for two months. I used to gripe about the sixty bucks until I found out that half of it goes to a fund for preventing domestic violence. That's pretty cool.
RANDOM NOTE: I found a great web site that explains the different lengths of wedding dresses.
I do require a meeting in person, if at all possible, to get to know you both, and see how you are with each other.
THIS MEETING IS FREE, BUT IF YOU HIRE ME, I REQUIRE A $75 DOWNPAYMENT IN CASH ONLY TO RESERVE YOUR DATE.
I always meet at the Panera Bread #1648 on Capital Blvd in Raleigh, across the street from K-mart. Free Wi-Fi and the smell of warm cinnamon rolls. Who could ask for more? This meeting should take 45-90 minutes, depending on how much of the paperwork is filled out beforehand :-)
You must each separately fill out the Couples Questionnaire which will tell me a little more about you, your views on married life, and how you are accepted within each other's families. You may either email them to me before our consultation meeting (email to revsu @ ladywindsong . com), or bring them with you already filled out. If you don't have time to fill it out beforehand, that's okay, too; just add about 15 minutes to the expected meeting length. It is very helpful to me if you each fill out the questionnaire separately...please don't share answers until you're done! LOL
In some cases, I will do the initial consultation and other planning tasks via Skype, but this is a rare exception. If you haven't already gotten it, here is the Custom ceremony worksheet that we will use during the consultation. Feel free to fill out as much of it as you can before we meet. I will have the full-text of all the options available at our meeting. I generally get the first draft to you about ten days before your ceremony, if possible, earlier if you are fully paid.
It also saves up time if you download, read and fill out the contract for my services. It includes my current fees and terms.
I need to be upfront with you - I am not a Christian minister. Having said that, I want to reassure you that I do believe in a loving Creator, and although my visualization of Divinity may be different than some other people's, I am on a path of Light. I still have a positive relationship with Jesus, in fact.
Because I am not a Chrisitan minister, it would be dishonest for me to use phrases such as "in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." But it is totally okay as long as I am just prompting you, such as in your vows or during the ring exchange. Likewise with I will not lead prayers that invoke any deity I don't believe in, but you are MORE THAN WELCOME to have people who are special to you read any passage or prayer you wish! In fact, it can be very meaningful, both for you and for the reader/prayer leader.
I have married many Christian couples before without any discomfort, and the guests - without exception - loved my ceremony. Please contact me if you have ANY questions whatsoever. I enjoy theological dialogue and hold nothing against any religion that follows a Path of Light. Email me, Facebook Chat-message me, or call me anytime. I will happily answer your questions to the best of my ability :-)
During our consultation, you may be confused by available parts of the ceremony that are not from the Christian tradition. They are, of course, optional, but you may decide to include them as a unique addition to your custom ceremony.
Why have a wedding rehearsal? These days, a rehearsal is not always necessary. BUT if you are including anyone in your wedding besides the bride, groom and minister, you should at least get together to go through the ceremony. I always give my couples a digital copy of the entire ceremony for this purpose.
A rehearsal is strongly recommended for longer custom ceremonies with cups and candles or other accessories used during the ceremony. If you are including children - definitely have a rehearsal with everybody! That way, they're used to seeing a zillion people up there at the altar (or what-have-you) and know to whom to walk. The last thing you want on your wedding day is a scared, confused kid wandering around, or worse, stopping.
I like to be at rehearsals, but since I give my couples the script ten days before the ceremony, I'm really just there to help you think of things you may not have thought of.
A good rule of thumb is to start with everyone up front, practice the recessional (the leaving), then the processiona (going up)l, then the ceremony script.
Always bring all the ceremony accessories you intend to use (bouquet, rings, candles, sands, etc.) - or dummy props the same size - so you know what to do and where set stuff and when to hand stuff to whom. Believe me, you don't want to be confused up there on your Big Day! LOL
Just fyi, I'm generally silly yet professional at the rehearsal, so be prepared ;-)
ON THE BIG DAY
Get Me to the <insert location here> on Time...
You may decide not to hold your wedding in a church, a private home, or a banquet hall. There are dozens of public and private parks and gardens that can be secured for your wedding and/or reception.
There are many parts to a marriage ceremony. These parts are called the wedding ceremony order. Many of them can be included in a non-legal handfasting, vow renewal or commitment ceremony as well. The portions in bold are the only portions required for a legal ceremony in North Carolina...yes, there are only three! These are the only three parts of my "Elopement" ceremony.
- Processional (silently or with a song)
- Statement of Intent (tells why are we gathered here)
- Publishing the Banns ("speak now...")
- Statement of Free Consent and Fidelity ("do you take this man...")
- Presentation or Bride and/or Groom by Family or Friends ("who gives this... to be married?")
- Presentation of Unity Symbols (the couple or the mothers can present candles, sands, waters, etc. now or later. If it's the moms' job to present stuff, do it now so they can just enjoy the rest of the service!)
- Light Candle(s) for Ancestors and/or Absent Loved Ones
- Special Readings (I have a full-text library of wedding readings!)
- Special Songs
- Homily or Short Sermon (sometimes known as the Admonition of the Couple. My choices are all short.)
- Statement of Faith (I have a non-denominational creed available for this.)
- Vows to the Children
- Vows of the Partners
- Ring Exchange (with or without an introduction or blessing, and there are LOTS more options for this)
- Other Symbols of Unity: Mingle different colored sands, waters, or beverages; Unity Candle; Family Unity Candle; Share Clear Water; Lasso; Handfasting, or whatever you can imagine!
- Heritage Prayer ("bestow upon this couple... children...", there is also one that says please do not grant us children until we're ready!)
- Charge of the Congregation ("will you help them in their promises?")
- Pronouncement ("I now pronounce you...")
- Prayers for the Newlyweds
- Passing of the Peace (everyone in attendance shakes hands with or hugs the people nearby)
- Benediction (final blessing)
- Broom Jumping (luck, fertility and sharing of household tasks)
- First Kiss! (should this be marked as required? LOL)
- Recessional (silently or with a song, if no music, everyone claps!)
Here's a basic non-religious ceremony.
Here is a custom ceremony planning worksheet you can download! It is a Word form, so you can make some of your choices and bring it with you to your consultation with me to see the full text of each option. (If it tells you that it is password protected, just click "Read Only" and save it with a new file name.)
New Age portions of a wedding or handfasting service include: Cleansing the Space, Creating Sacred Circle Space, Honoring the Quarters, and Cakes and Ale. These rites can be included before or after the Statement of Intent. Here's a description of these New Age Wiccan options.
Cleansing the Ritual Space - This simply means I chant a prayer to clear out negative vibes from the place where you will be married. I chant: Cum velle locus defaeco. Malum sententia hic peribunt. This is Latin for "With my Will, I cleanse this place. Bad thoughts perish here." I most often do this before most of the guests arrive.
Creating Sacred Space - This means I will define a sacred space in the shape of a circle, which is a shape of inclusion and wholeness. This make it holy ground for as long as I leave the circle unbroken there. I sometimes do this during the ceremony, but I often prepare the space before ost of the guests arrive.
Don't worry, people can cross the boundary of the circle, such as the bridal party and the wedding couple, without breaking the circle and making it "unsacred". People who can sense energies may notice a small amount of power, which comes from me and the salt or water or herbs that I use to inscribe the circle on the ground. I chant: Orbis in nomine Matris et Patris sanctus appello, which means "In the name of the Mother and the Father I call this circle sactified."
Elemental Quarter Calls - In my spiritual tradition, and many others, there are angels, guardians or powers that guide certain aspects of Creation. They are part of Divinity, sort of like roles we all play in our lives of mother, sister, teacher, employee, etc. In most Western traditions, these are Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit, and they are associated with the compass directions. Calling on them to be present at your wedding simply means you want all of Creation to witness and bless your union.
There are many ways to invite these aspects of Divinity. I have some poems that can be read, or candles an be silently lit with prayerful intention. It's up to you.
Handfasting - This is a very old ceremony of unity. I describe it in detail elsewhere on my web site. It is performed in both non-Christian and Catholic ceremonies. You may remember it from the movie, Braveheart. It can be very moving.
Cakes & Ale - This is a fancy way of saying food and drink. Much like the Christian sacrament of Communion or Eucharist, this is a way to bring Divinity directly into your bodies through blessed food and drink. The food and drink can take any shape you want, such as cookies and puch, or it can be bread and wine. It's up to you.
This is a truly religious rite that is similar in many traditions, so if you are not particularly religious, or do not want your wedding to seem overly so, you probably would not be comfortable doing this. Even non-Chrisitians I have married have felt uncomfortable with revealing their faith so overtly during what is commonly thought of as a public ceremony, but I still offer it to all my couples. Once again I must say, it's really up to you.
Music for Your Ceremony
Many of my clients hold their wedding in a park or private home. And often, the budget simply can't stretch far enough to include live music at the ceremony. That's just fine; I didn't have music at my own wedding. But there are certain songs that some people expect to hear, and if they are absent, well, it just might not seem..."wedding-y."
To help out those who are celebrating their wedding without live music, but still want the traditional (or not so traditional) sounds, there is ceremony music many styles of music from Celtic to Rock to Classical. Yes, "Here Comes the Bride" was performed by Queen for the cult classic movie, Flash Gordon. And yes, it has been used in a wedding I performed! You can download the list of the ceremony songs I have collected over the years.
There are many photographs during the ceremony that have become traditional. Obviously, take whatever photos you want. These are just suggestions in case you are not hiring a professional but still want to make sure the "money shots" are taken.
NOTE: In this section I am only covering photos that are taken during the ceremony itself. I'll have to do research to include the 'getting ready' photos and the 'reception' photos.
- Parents and Grandparents with their escorts in the aisle on the way to their seats
- Bride and Escort before Procession
- Minister and Groom waiting at the altar (with and/or without the Groomsmen)
- Each Attendant during Procession
- Bride/Escort during Procession
- The Escort handing the Bride's hand to the Groom
- The entire wedding party during the ceremony
- Any special reader or performer
- Any special ceremony, such as presenting roses to mothers, unity candles or cord knotting (handfasting)
- Ring exchange
- First kiss
- Newlyweds during Recession
- Attendants during Recession
- Parents and Grandparents going through the Receiving Line
- Certificate signing by the Minister and Witnesses
As with everything else, in modern times, there is no set plan for holding a reception. I've seen everything from a potluck picnic to cake and coffee to a served sit down meal at a fancy banquet hall. I've seen yard games all the way to a professional DJ/Emcee announcing every traditional dance in the book. These days, it really is okay to have your celebration the way you always dreamed it would be, not necessarily the why people tell you it "should" be. No garter toss? No problem.
Whatever you choose, make sure to figure out how you will communicate to the guests where to go at the end of the ceremony. Receiving line? Knowledgeable ushers? A printed map in the program? Ask the officiant to announce something appropriate? It's best to think of all the logistics earlier rather than later.
AFTER THE BIG DAY
Getting Your Marriage License
For heaven's sake, get at least one copy of your marriage license! You need it for everything from changing the name on your bank account, to getting a new Social Security card with a name change, to applying for Federal disability benefits. Keep it safe.
Changing Your Name
For information on changing your name after a legal wedding, try http://missnowmrs.com/ Rev Su Windsong does not endorse this service. You can do it on your own, though. It's not too much of a hassle, in my experience. It does require a copy of your marriage license no matter how you go about making a name change, guy or girl.
For information of creating a legal civil union when legal "marriage" is not available, please see this document from Family LLC. Rev Su Windsong does not endorse this service.
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