How to update wedding traditions to a contemporary zeitgeist. Eloping, theme weddings, alternative ceremonies & vows, indie styles, vegan & organic.

Mary is a Humanist Chaplain and a Marriage Officiant (equiv. to a Justice of the Peace) in New York City and Toronto, Ontario. Write to us at any time: or


Gay Marriage Wins At Ballot Box For First Time U.S. History |

Gay Marriage Wins At Ballot Box For First Time U.S. History | TPM2012
Voters in Maryland and Maine legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote Tuesday, the first time in U.S. history that gay marriage has been approved at the ballot box.
In Maryland, voters approved marriage equality 52 percent to 48 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press. The state government passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, but opponents succeeded in putting the issue on the ballot in November.
“Over these past few weeks, Marylanders joined together to affirm that for a free and diverse people of many faiths — a people committed to religious freedom — the way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights and human dignity of all,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a champion of marriage equality in the state, said in a statement
The AP also declared Maine voters had approved same-sex marriage Tuesday after defeating a referendum on it just three years ago, a sign of how quickly Americans’ views on the issue are evolving.


A little style in the park

A little style for a wedding in the park ...
(this couple was married by Eileen)

Aren't they great?

The pix is by Kasia Grabek.


Next Weekend: Gatsby Goes To Governors Island

Next Weekend: Gatsby Goes To Governors Island - Gothamist

'twould be a great place to wear those white flannels and have a wedding -- tired of black suits, I am...

I've always thought Governor's Island would be a great elopement spot.


Goth weddings - and why not?

I wrote about Vampire-themed weddings (in a less than enthusiastic way) below. But we DID recently have a small Goth wedding - in a cemetary, at dusk, in the mausoleum, surrounded by flowers and evenings birds. The bride carried purple and black flowers, and the invitation said "black casual - because that's all we have". The couple were sweet and poetic, and the bride's JOB is working at a funeral planning company (of course it is!). She said that they like wandering around the cemetary thinking of the lives of the people there, and they believe death is a part of life.

Very Victorian (but not steampunk) and very delightful.

Here are the poems we used:

Ancient Chinese poem, translation #1:
Take a lump of clay, wet it, pat it,
And make an image of me, and an image of you.
Then smash them, crash them, and add a little water.
Break them and remake them into an image of you
And an image of me.
Then in my clay, there's a little of you.
And in your clay, there's a little of me.
And nothing ever shall us sever;
Living, we'll sleep in the same quilt,
And dead, we'll be buried together.

From Adam Bede by George Eliot,

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life,
to strengthen each other in all labor,
to rest on each other in all sorrow,
to minister to each other in all pain
to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories
at the moment of the last parting?

Couple takes the 17-storey plunge - wall climbing wedding

Couple takes the 17-storey plunge
A Winnipeg couple has taken the ultimate leap of faith.
Claude Labossiere and Miranda Dorno were married Thursday afternoon on the roof of the RBC Building. Clad in a wedding veil and a black top hat, the newlyweds then rappelled down 17 storeys -- a nerve-wracking 200 feet -- to ring in their nuptials.
"We wanted to do something different," Labossiere said. "The opportunity came up with the Drop Zone event and we thought, 'what a great idea!' We have romance, adventure and it's all for a good cause." The couple was part of the sixth annual Easter Seals Drop Zone, joining more than 100 other participants who braved the 200-foot drop.
"We have a diverse group of people. All ages, all abilities. It's really a celebration that anybody can do anything, if they put their mind to it," said Armando Versace, marketing manager with the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) Foundation.


Eyes flashing, robot conducts wedding in Tokyo EarthLink

Eyes flashing, robot conducts wedding in Tokyo EarthLink - Strange News
Almost everyone stood when the bride walked down the aisle in her white gown, but not the wedding conductor, because she was bolted to her chair. The nuptials at this ceremony were led by "I-Fairy," a 4-foot (1.5-meter) tall seated robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails. Sunday's wedding was the first time a marriage had been led by a robot, according to manufacturer Kokoro Co.

"Please lift the bride's veil," the robot said in a tinny voice, waving its arms in the air as the newlyweds kissed in front of about 50 guests. The wedding took place at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo, where the I-Fairy wore a wreath of flowers and directed a rooftop ceremony. Wires led out from beneath it to a black curtain a few feet (meters) away, where a man crouched and clicked commands into a computer.

Japanese companies are making a push to inject robots into everyday life. Honda makes a walking child-shaped robot, and other firms have developed them to entertain the elderly or play baseball. Kokoro, whose corporate goal is to "touch the hearts of the people," also makes giant dinosaur robots for exhibitions and lifelike android models that can smile and laugh. The company is a subsidiary of Sanrio Co., which owns the rights to Hello Kitty and other Japanese characters.

p>"This was a lot of fun. I think that Japanese have a strong sense that robots are our friends. Those in the robot industry mostly understand this, but people mainly want robots near them that serve some purpose," said bride Satoko Inoue, 36, who works at manufacturer Kokoro. "It would be nice if the robot was a bit more clever, but she is very good at expressing herself," said new husband Tomohiro Shibata, 42, a professor of robotics at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in central Japan.

The I-Fairy sells for about 6.3 million yen ($68,000) and three are in use in Singapore, the U.S. and Japan, according to company spokeswoman Kayako Kido. It has 18 degrees of motion in its arms, and mainly repeats preprogrammed movements and sounds.


Will Love Locks Take Over The Brooklyn Bridge?

Will Love Locks Take Over The Brooklyn Bridge? - Gothamist
A tradition dating back to... 2004, has now reached Brooklyn by way of Italy. That year a movie called Tre Metri Sopra il Cielo (based on a 1992 novel by Federico Moccia) hit the big screen and included a scene where a couple secured their love (via a lock) to a bridge, and then tossed the keys into the river below. In Italy this has plagued the Ponte Milvio, and now it seems to have made its way over to the Brooklyn Bridge.
According to the Brooklyn Paper there are quite a few signs of the tradition secured to the bridge— as well as benches, supports and pillars— dating back to 2007 (see for yourselves). The locks (which include names and a date) are illegal, as is fastening anything to the bridge, but the paper wonders if the law is enforced by the Department of Transportation.

Taking His Name? You Must Be A Girly Girl

Taking His Name? You Must Be A Girly Girl
Can a woman take her husband's name and still be independent? The answers from society may surprise you.

Via Broadsheet, a new study claims that women who take their husband's names are viewed with many more of the stereotypical characteristics of women:

Marital name change is not without consequences. Women who took their partner's name appear to be different from women who kept their own name on a variety of demographics and beliefs, which are more or less associated with the female stereotype (Study 1). Subsequent studies show that women's surnames are used as a cue for judgment (Studies 2-4). A woman who took her partner's name or a hyphenated name was judged as more caring, more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent, and less ambitious in comparison with a woman who kept her own name. A woman with her own name, on the other hand, was judged as less caring, more independent, more ambitious, more intelligent, and more competent, which was similar to an unmarried woman living together or a man.
How does this "less intelligent, less competent" belief play out in real life? Well, according to the study, this would result in, among other things, lower pay for job applicants. (this is a small sample study, and there are lots of caveats, of course!)


iPad Marriage Proposal: Congrats Zach, You Dork

iPad Marriage Proposal: Congrats Zach, You Dork

Hi TechCrunch,

I’m a huge fan of your blog and read it every day, and I thought you might be interested in this. This weekend I brought my girlfriend to a local ice cream shop where we had our first date. I also brought along my iPad, since I wanted to “field test” it, as I told her. We sat outside on the same bench we had 2 1/2 years ago, and I asked her to put on earphones. I then handed her the iPad and played a slideshow with music and photos of the two of us together, with a message at the end: “will you marry me?” I got down on one knee and proposed, and fortunately she said yes. Maybe Steve Jobs was right–the iPad is magical!

Thanks for providing me with years of news and entertainment. Zach

Mary's response: No.


NY Times fact-checking your mom's employment record

A very funny scoop from Gawker exposing the NY Times obsession with the social employment history of your family empire. So if you want to get your announcement in the times, better call your mom's last employer and make sure her job title is sexy and they can verify she ONCE WORKED THERE. Snort.


Crowdsource your wedding

This one is obvious. We used to send people to Indiebride, Offbeat Bride, etc. for alternative wedding ideas. Those are still good sources, as well as Etsy, and other crafty-places. But these days, send out your requests to facebook, twitter, and other crowdsourced media, and let your friends (and friends of friends) help find the best indie dj, organic hemp gown, vegan caterer, or best of all, local boite/resto VENUE for your wedding. The power of people, together. (Then go post on one of the indie blogs :-) - Mary


Steampunk wedding cake

Steampunk Wedding Cake?
Well, it looks more like Russian Faberge + a carousel - but still, quite Victorian.
The artist is VenusCakes (UK), and they also have Gothic and other delights. It seems some people (!) don't know what Steampunk is (I guess they don't read so here you go:

"Steampunk is a genre of fantasy which came into prominence in the 1980’s/90’s.
It incorporates elements of the Victorian era such as steam power but also encompasses Victorian clothing such as corsets. If you are familiar with stories by Jules Verne or The Extraordinary League of Gentleman you will get an idea of the style."  - and, of course, boots and corsets....


Twilight wedding

I hesitate to post this link but somebody has to do it.
What with Youtube wedding raps and avatar-themed weddings, of course the marketing people had to write a piece about a vampire-themed wedding. Of course they did. (and ignore the part about Wuthering Heights and the 1800s...)

Is it me, or is this just too Disney for words: "Host your ceremony at sunset, so that your outdoor reception can start at dusk. This is to appease your vampire friends. Program your wedding date for a night that has a full moon to make reference to Bella’s werewolf friends. For your decor, be sure to include lots of twinkle lights... The Cullens love clean, light colors, and elegant touches like chandeliers so be sure to have plenty of lush white flowers for centerpieces and around your lighting. Place your flowers atop classic books from the 1800s such as Wuthering Heights (one of Bella’s favorites) or even on top of copies of the Twilight books (if you don’t mind the distractions they’ll provide to your female guests! Surround your flowery centerpieces with plenty of candles in diamond shaped holders and a crystal heart paperweight that resembles the charm that Edward gave Bella.

and here's their 'vow' idea

* "Before you, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars — points of light and reason. And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything."

Is it a wedding, or a pre-teen pool party? You decide!


Skydiving weddings

We were just asked to marry a couple who want to tandem jump - the witnesses are going to jump, but I only have to wear a parachute. I spent the night wondering - should I jump or not?? Then, of course, the weather intervened, and the wedding is postponed.
Still not sure whether I'd follow the wedding party out the bay door...

Weddings on Rooftops

Are bound to be windy. And if your rooftop is the West Side Story kind, with just the little curb stopping you from tumbling over, AND if the roof slants, like most of those I've been on in Brooklyn - please have the ceremony INSIDE, and hop up to the roof for pix. If I start to slide and grab you, we both go over ....


Youtube JK wedding entrance to Chris Love

Just watch the JK wedding video to Chris Brown's "Forever". Of course you can do this - or anything else your heart desires - Mozart would probably have loved it. As a native MINNESOTAN (the Other side of the River, in Minneapolis) I *heart* this vid, and their charming little brown tuxedos.


Hipster Wedding - PopUp Chapel in Williamsburg

We officiated at 5 lovely weddings at the Williamsburg PopUp Wedding Chapel in June. Lovely couples, arriving on Vespas,with pink hair to match the paper streamers, good music, hugs and happy families. Enjoy the pix. Pix by Sarah Sloboda

Note to Canadian Readers - 3 of the four couples included a Canadian! From Vancouver, Red Deer and Ontario. You can see some more pix from one of the Canadian photographers, Mango Studios, HERE.

Wedding on Twitter?

Well, of course people PROPOSE on Twitter. That's old news by now. But we were recently asked about a wedding service on Twitter (by a journalist, actually) so I guess I should answer. We have married people and recorded the ceremony and broadcast it on videophones, of course. We did this a few years ago when the groom's mother was refused a US visa, and she couldn't come to the wedding. We have also broadcast the wedding to distant relatives, absent friends, and friends in hospital. Twittering a wedding seems absurdly retro, in a way (Oh look, I got married and twitted and fell in a manhole...)

Of course our wedding couples from the EU text madly, sending congratulations, and updates:"We're just ready to start", "Yes, Mom, we just did it, I'm really married! -- So you can Tweet all you want about the event, as it's really just another cell phone call.

But if you want a "Wedding2point0" on Twitter - you could:
*Propose on Twitter.
*Tweet your ceremony assembly like a Flashmob Wedding ("If UR not Busy 2day, CU @ 1pm CentralPK fountain 4 our wedding, 4Mal dress Optional")
*Tweet directions and timing
*Tweet when the bride arrives ("Here she comes, rounding the bushes!")
*Live blog/tweet the ceremony to outsiders
*Tweet congratulations

But the point of a wedding, whether it's 4 people or 200, is so that a couple can face each other, in REALITY, in front of their witness/ friends/ family, and say in their OWN VOICES, "a public declaration of the private commitment that they have already made to one another", and that they are accepting the other person as their legal life partner, through whatever lies ahead of them. A Tweet is not a vow (though you can tweet the vows to others of course). (See this post on the minimum LEGAL aspects of a wedding ceremony).

Of course Nokia, Trou and Samsung would like you to queue for their Holographic Phone, and you can have a virtual Princess Leia wedding, if that's your costume play. Or if you want a truly surreal/Twitted (pace Colbert) 2point0 wedding, dress up your avatars and get "married" in 2ndLife. But if you want to share Health Insurance as well as bandwidth, just make sure you go to the Courthouse or get a live Marriage Officiant to perform a "Face Meet" marriage service for you - and use your voice, not your thumb.


Wedding Tattoos - Friday Jones @ SensesNY

Wedding Tattoos - to get them, or to hide them?

At a wedding we did in Williamsburg last week, the bride asked to stand on the 'grooms' side at the ceremony, because she didn't want her heavily tatted right arm in the photos. My friend Steven, a great hairstylest at SensesNY, suggested she could have used Dermablend, which is a great coverup ... if she decided to be 'discreet'. Tats - always with you, of course. And you can dress to highlight your tats, as well as hide them..

If you decide to get a 'wedding tattoo', think about it for a LONG time, and if you're set on the action, and you're in NY, you can go see Friday Jones, down on 5th Avenue by Union Square - "The two-tone brunette has a degree in philosophy, a penchant for fighter pilots, and an obsession with iconography. She got an apprenticeship in the early ’90s and hit the road — inking singers, Hollywood bad girls, military men. She’s all rock and roll but knows the ladies are turned off by grimy parlors.

Post-consultation in her calm, clean spa suite, you’ll have a custom tat fitting (working with your musculature and personality). Then she’ll pour you some wine, plug in your iPod, call you sweet nicknames (momma, girlfriend), and get to work like a pro"

SensesNY, 138 Fifth Avenue, between 18th and 19th Streets, 2nd floor (212-242-7979 or

-- and of course you can see my friend Steve for wonderful color / style -


the two months salary art exhibit
A conceptual artist has produced a show based on the 1940s ad campaign by DeBeers that you should spend 2 months salary on an engagement ring. She has made a series of paintings for different economic classes (this is "A List Actor"). Enjoy her artists statement, and there are MANY blogs talking about this right now.


Read Weddings and Visa Weddings - a cautionary tale

A tale of a real wedding and the Green Card detectives. [Well, they've removed the story. Hmmm]

If you marry someone from another country, it's a very good idea to document your relationship. Keep pictures of yourselves together in your domestic abode. Get friends to take your pictures. GET A BANK ACCOUNT and some sort of ID with your names on it. Some people DO get married for visa reasons only, and the Immigration Department would like to go after them. But if you are legitimately married, be sure that you can prove that you DO live together. In the modern world of internet banking and cyberspace, you may not be generating paper proof that you are a legitimate couple.

Read Bruce and Jasmina's story - and pay heed. Happy wedding!


Iowa Supreme Court: Gay marriage legal!

My gracious! My home state! Gotta be proud of this!

Des Moines Register The Iowa Supreme Court this morning unanimously upheld gays’ right to marry.

“The Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution,” the justices said in a summary of their decision. The court rules that gay marriage would be legal in three weeks, starting April 24.


Same Sex weddings around the world

Couples often contact us regarding same sex weddings. Mary is certified as a Marriage Commissioner in Ontario, and of course Canada allows same sex legal marriage. So we are always pleased to conduct Canadian marriage ceremonies for gay couples.

But as legislation around the world seems to be changing rapidly (see Sweden Approves Same Sex Marriage April 1)-- we suggest you check this wikipedia article, which already has the update date on Sweden, and has links for civil unions and same sex weddings in the US and globally.


Press, Recession memes, and zeitgeist shift

Lots of journalists calling us these days looking for stories on "recession weddings". (the latest was the Voice of America, the New York Daily News, and even Japanese national television). But it's hard to get them to do the story about the REAL shift in weddings - from the corporatized slick airbrushed BridesMag style to a more personal, Etsy-flavored, "artisanal" , green, eco, friends&family - d.i.y. zeitgist. The shift isn't just economical or because its CHEAPER to do your own wedding. People are changing their wedding plans to reflect changes in their own lives and outlook on life, and it's a natural shift.
Yes, it's cheaper to make your own decorations, have a wedding in the park, ask your friends to bring food, buy a vintage dress, play your own music, and source everything locally and green - but that's what we're doing now for any party. We haven't had the first wedding invitations on Twitter that I know of - but I'm sure they're out there. Along with other great ideas for saving trees, and communicating laterally. Cupcake trees and bamboo plates aren't new - and biodegradable soap bubbles and flower seeds replaced confetti long ago.

Ten years - such a difference. I DO remember the bride that showed up with 25 members of her family in the white Hummer - and the hothouse flowers, and the toxic glo-sticks and the plastic decorations. And they're still out there. But a simple, organic, natural wedding is now a norm, not an anomaly. We've gone BACK, in a way, to home and family weddings, where you know everyone who is there, and you have time to greet them and share the day with people you will see again. And the other details - the home or park setting, the simple natural food, the friends who do the music and make the cake, the handmade programs and decorations and locally-sourced details, are all OUTCOMES of the switch back to the real meaning of a wedding: declaring your private commitment to each other in a public ceremony to your family, friends and those who will continue to love and support you in the years to come. Simple. And now let's eat.


Live music for the ceremony?

Yes. With reservations. But usually much better than canned.

Ipod-driven tracks are great - but we've had some doozer mistakes (never use an antique shuffle - we got heavy metal for the bride's entrance, to everyone's amusement). We've seen grooms hiding out in a closet frantically searching I-tunes to find wedding tracks when the DJ had a hangover or dropped the files. Don't go there.

It's hard for a dj or digital sound people to see the bride when the place is full and everyone's standing up. A live musician (except keyboard or harpist) can move around and see people. Live music carries well, and is more responsive. You can adjust to babies, late ceremonies, jets flying over, and don't have to worry about batteries and dead sockets - which happened at a penthouse wedding - no juice!

Violins, brass, woodwinds, dulcimers, accordions all carry well in parks. Guitars, not so much, ditto cellos. Rain is bad for most everything - especially strings. String quartets need to sit down somewhere, as do a lot of guitarists.

Outdoor amplifiers need LONG extension cords, and don't work in parks.

Singing is good! Acapella is wonderful (or with flute or folk instruments). Live jazz or blues is good. We often have the guests hum the wedding march in the park - along with the birds and other natural sounds, it's very happy.

If you have a musical friend/relative - let THEM plan things for you. They'll work harder if you give them their own head, and list your faves, but trust their judgement. It's a wedding gift - talent from those you love.


Filene's Pamplona

Here - turn your sound down - is the FILENES RUNNING OF THE BRIDES discount bride dress event. Here are DATES in other cities, including Boston, Atlanta, Washington, etc. Broken legs and laces, anyone? See our list of recyled dresses on!


Aww - Nice magazine story on a New York Wedding

Here is our great couple from Birmingham, UK. We married them at the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) in December (post below), and they've now been featured in Live24/7, A Brit magazine, with the photoshoot from the rest of the day. The photographer, Steve Gerrard, also shoots rock bands. They had a great time in New York - and went down to the webcam at Times Square after the wedding to wave at family back home.


Alice in Crochet Land dress

This is from the MakerFaire craft site - and then the blog it's not a wedding dress, but just imagine it a bit more elaborate -- Love it.


Fantasy Wedding locations

New one: 632 on Hudson (Meatpacking, NY).
Got any?


Great Wedding Pix

Amazing wedding photographer - Steve Gerrard (from Birmingham, UK) - photographed this great wedding at the Top of the Rock in New York, in December. He does a lot of musicians, and other work too -- enjoy his fab website. (And try to reach him if he's ever coming over stateside...)
Here's his NY wedding diary....


Another Fab wedding dress

And an entirely lovely wedding, in the Vale of Kasmir, in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. This was just on the cusp of sunset - and the birds were circling round us. Love the fur wrap, too! The photo is by Tiffany Hagler. See her nifty work at:


When is a ceremony TOO short?

When we're planning a ceremony, we frequently encounter couples who insist on "bare bones" - they usually say "we're shy", or "we don't like fuss", or "we don't like public speaking". Of course we try and follow the couples wishes, and create a ceremony that they want. We have 'bare bones' ceremonies you can use, and we can design a very simple, quick ceremony for you. I have also timed out how fast a ceremony goes, just so you can get an idea.

However, I often get a comment that "the ceremony went by just too fast". I'm not surprised. When you're trying to AVOID those long weddings you've been at where the talking is interminable, it seems like a good idea to cut everything but the essentials - 'do you?, yep,I do', then 'take this ring, I pronounce, kiss, hello new couple, and let's open the wine...'

However, here is a post from other bridal blog, a, where the bride discusses her surprise that wedding may have been 'too short', and it lacked the involvement of the people who had been invited:

Something that really surprised me about our wedding, is that the ceremony went by waaaaay too fast. This is because it was short-short-short. Intentionally. Ben and I are not terribly sentimental people. We find that our love and commitment is expressed on a daily basis, and while it was important to us to make this commitment in the eyes of our community of friends and family, we did not want it to be a big production. Short and sweet and on to the party pu-lease. BUT, I found that because it went by so fast, it was hard to take it in. I did not have time to look out at the faces of my guests, of our families and take in these little joys. [I was too busy crying like a baby and trying to get through my vows!] I suppose some sort of audience [is that the right word?] interaction part of the ceremony might have helped that."

We often suggest that the ideal length for an informal, stand-up small wedding is about 16-18 minutes. That includes the introduction and welcome, a reading or two (lighthearted and simple), a mention of those present and those who could not be there, and usually, an offer for the guests to support the couple and wish them well. In fact, this sequence often takes the place of "giving away", which is an antiquated tradition.

Even if your wedding is small and informal, it's still your MARRIAGE ceremony. Take a moment, and think about what you would like. Your officiant will be able to take care of the writing and speaking, so you really don't have to memorize anything or do any public talking that is difficult. But consider what you would like to say or have said, who you would like to mention, how to include any friends or family in your brief ceremony (presenting the rings? reading a short passage or letter from an absent guest? holding your rings to 'warm them with their love' before presenting them? offering a short musical piece, either a cappella singing or instrumental, signing the license and marriage certificate as part of the ceremony, etc.). You can always edit the ceremony BACK, but you can't extend it once you're set - and give yourself time to breathe and focus and enjoy the ceremony and make it meaningful to YOU as well as to your guests. That's what it's all about.


CT overturns gay marriage ban - that makes 3

BOSTON (Reuters) - The Connecticut Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriage on Friday in a victory for gay-rights advocates that will allow couples to marry in the New England state.

The court found that the state's law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Connecticut is now the third state in the country to allow gay marriage, following neighboring Massachusetts, the first state to allow it, and California.

Connecticut already permitted same-sex civil unions that grant largely the same state rights as to married couples, but lack the full, federal legal protections of marriage.

Four years ago, eight same-sex couples sued the state, arguing that their constitutional rights were being denied when they were not able to get marriage licenses.

In the 4-3 opinion, the court wrote "the state has failed to provide sufficient justification for excluding same sex couples from the institution of marriage."


Cryptography Wedding Ring Contest!

Cory Doctorow, scifi writer and editor of, is a lover of things clever, cryptic, and steampunk. He's also Canadian, which warms my maple leaf heart.

He's running a contest for people to design uses for the cryptography built into his wedding rings. "When my wife and I started to plan our wedding, we inevitably turned to the question of rings, and it was only a matter of time before we came to the idea of rings with little wheels on them that could be used as crypto devices, in the manner of super-duper Captain Midnight Decoder Badges. His Rules:

"Now it's time that we turn to the Internet with a challenge: given these two matching rings, what crypto applications can you come up with? Could you use them to scramble passwords (possibly hashed with a key)? How about encoding messages for secret transmission? What additional common apparatus (say, different-sized coins) could you use to generate initialization vectors and increase the system's security?

This is an open competition to be judged by Bruce "Applied Cryptography" Schneier and me -- the winner gets a copy of Little Brother signed by both of us. Post your submissions to the comments or send them to before Oct 1, 2008. (Go look at the nifty ring).


How many attendants? Who cares!

I used to watch Bridezilla once in a while, until it gave me hives. Such worrying, such angst - the poor brides, it seemed more like Olympic training for "event competition" than wedding planning...where was the joy? Out the window with the fired wedding planner, in most cases.

The worst segment involved a bride whose groom decided at the last minute to add one more groomsman (a good friend), thus 'unbalancing' her symmetric arrangement of bridesmaids. She drummed her fingers on the table, insisted that he 'fire' the extra groomsman, and then announced that she had a secret weapon, if he insisted on ruining her perfect wedding, she would simply PHOTOSHOP the extra groomsman out of the wedding pictures.

Many people ask us about the 'right' number of attendants, and whether each groomsman should have a matching bridesmaid of equal height. Of course, we have no opinions on this question, because the choice of supporters to stand up with you on your wedding day is actually determined by WHY you have chosen your wedding party, what the people mean to you, and who you wish to include and honor in this important event.

The JOB of the attendants is simple: to act as witnesses and supporters as the two of you declare your intention, in front of family and friends, to live together as a family unit. The reason you have 'attendants' is so that there is a properly witnesses legal record that you have agreed to be married to each other in a public forum. The officiant asks the questions, and RECORDS your decision for the State's records, the witness/s sign the license to state that they were there as impartial historical observers of this contract. In earlier days, they would represent the villagers in your town, all agreeing that you are an official couple, because they were there when you agreed to be partners. And then you all broke bread together (or cake) and sealed the deal. In practical terms, modern witnesses/attendants may help seat guests (in addition to ushers) hold your rings and flowers, help with your dress, keep an eye on the ringbearer, sign the license, read some passages, propose the toast, and do little jobs like fix your makeup, and pay the band.

You do not need a maid of honor and a best man at all, of course. A person serving as a witness can do all of the above jobs. In sentimental terms, you may want your sister, best friend, room-mate, or any other special person to stand beside you as a supporter. The bride may choose a brother or male supporter, the groom can ask a close female friend as a supporter. The sides do NOT have to be even in number! If you are having a formal procession, the supporters generally come in one x one, and uneven numbers leave together in 2s and 3s - arm in arm. It does not matter at all what gender and what side. A few years ago, female attendants on the groom's side often wore tuxes - but this seems to be fading.

(As for photoshop, of course you could just pop in anyone you want - Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz - or have a digital frame and change it up hourly. Ah, neurotic bridezilla alternate reality 2nd Life - not).


The real outdoor wedding

Is a little messy. We had a park wedding today, in a lovely setting in Central Park, New York City. It had just rained, and the ground was damp, and a few stray twigs were cluttering up the lawn. There were ducks, and birds, and a few squirrels, and kids running around. It was a lovely summer day.

The bride arrived, with her dress clutched up to her chin. For an outdoor park wedding, she wore a heavy satin gown, back laced, with a 5 foot train. We stopped to tie up the bustle, and the train still swept the ground (like a puddle train) at least 2 feet behind. The dress was. going. to. get. dampish. It was clar that the wind was blowing a bit -- disarranging her hair. Everyone fretted and tried to dry off the grass (!). The service was lovely, and eventually she appeared to forget about the wet ground - though an opportunistic bug got under her veil - causing a stage 3 meltdown.

Advice: It's OUTSIDE. There will be WEATHER. There will be DIRT. Maybe pigeon poop. Probably a few bugs. The wind will blow, your shoes will get spattered, your heels will sink into the ground, and your hair will fly away if not laquered.

If you want a clean and antiseptic photo-op without these surprises, try the Rainforest Cafe. I'm sure there's one in a mall near you. Outdoor weddings are full of sand and wind and twigs and butterflies (or bees). Go with the flow and you'll be happy. Otherwise - find a nice hotel with nice wallpaper -- and you'll keep your train and your wedding shoes clean. Happy Outdoors!


Low posting - Iowa Floods

I am visiting family in Cedar Rapids, in the floods. Please excuse lite posting.


Weather and style

It. was. hot.
We had several lovely weddings this weekend, but I was quite worried about the grooms in the 95 degree heat. The brides were in summer chiffon, strapless linen, and even barefoot before and after the ceremony.

But what happened to summer suits? A lot of grooms were 'brick red' in the heat. It's true, you need your jacket for the frigid restaurant after a park wedding, but only one groom was in a light jacket. Lighten up, gentlemen! Though some people are afraid of summer suits:

"The most important rule is to not look like you work in an ice cream truck...For the most part, white suits should be avoided. They tend to be impractical— because they get dirty so easily.. Unless it is a beautifully tailored suit made of the finest linen or cotton, and you are a Southern trial lawyer, like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, or a 19th century British colonial administrator, they should be strenuously avoided" Well. so says Business Week.

Or perhaps people are thinking of this poem, by Liam Rector

"Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,

Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer..."

But it seems inflexible: Weddings and Funerals - dark suits rule. It's SERIOUS stuff, requires gravitas.

Here's a great post about bygone Summer Whites - see the wonderful Great Gatsby wedding picture.

So, lighten up! Be brave. Be retro. Be ethnic. Be Graham Greene. Try the poplin, seersucker, linen, pintail, silk -- don't just buy a new TIE, have fun with the few options open to men, and be sure to coordinate with the bride - so your stripes don't overshadow her chiffon. And it's true, linen and rain and sweat aren't friends. But poplin is great, and nice Merchant Ivory style Indian Cotton Shirts. Hair is playing in Central Park this summer, after all.


NY Recognizes Gay marriages from other countries and states

International Herald Tribune Article It's quite interesting to read international press articles on this welcome news. Here's the Wikipedia article with a chart of countries, and statutes state x state.

Court upholds NY Governor's Recognition of Out Of State Gay Marriages.
Lawsuit against recogizing out of state same-sex marriages dismissed.

California's top court overturns gay marriage ban

AP California Supreme Court overturns voter-approved gay marriage ban, though issue isn't settled. In a monumental victory for the gay rights movement, the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on gay marriage Thursday in a ruling that would allow same-sex couples in the nation's biggest state to tie the knot. Domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage, the justices ruled 4-3.

The city of San Francisco, two dozen gay and lesbian couples and gay rights groups sued in March 2004 after the court halted the month-long wedding march that took place when Mayor Gavin Newsom opened the doors of City Hall to same-sex marriages.

"Today the California Supreme Court took a giant leap to ensure that everybody — not just in the state of California, but throughout the country — will have equal treatment under the law," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who argued the case for San Francisco.

The challenge for gay rights advocates, however, is not over. A coalition of religious and social conservative groups is attempting to put a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine laws banning gay marriage in the state constitution...

[Note: Mary is a wedding officiant in Toronto, ON, where same sex weddings are, of course, legal. We also offer same sex commitment services in New York]


Get married at Home! How to turn a 'corporate' wedding into a small family event and live happily ever after

We often talk to brides who have 'downsized' and opted for a family wedding, instead of a 'corporate' sized event. For a variety of reasons (cost, travel, family situation, timing, or just unhappiness with the whirlwind of planning a giant wedding) they have decided to pass on the country club, penthouse, loft or wedding palace, and have cut their guest list down to immediate family and close friends (usually 20-80 people, depending upon second cousins).

This brings up a dilemma: should the couple elope? Should they have a small wedding in a chapel or restaurant? How do you find a space for two dozen people, when restaurants have a minimum of 50? What about the dress, the cake, the ceremony -- the presents?

The first decision is whether to elope or to hold a small family wedding. If you want to get away and have a private wedding, it's best to just make arrangements and go for it. If you start including close family members and friends, you've turned the corner to a private wedding. Either way, you can still arrange for a reception back home at a later date, or a second "Wedding Blessing", where the legally married couple can have a ring blessing, a spiritual blessing, a vow renewal, or any combination of rituals you wish, followed by a reception and 'welcome home'. This is becoming a common new/old trend, and we have seen the 'wedding blessing' parties evolve into real celebrations, sometimes a year later than the legal wedding. See our other post on this topic.

But if the point is to involve your parents, or young cousins, or elderly relatives, and you are willing to have a family ceremony, why not 'recreate' the weddings of your grandparents, and be married at home, in the parlour (aka livingroom), or in the backyard, or in a friend's home or someone else's big backyard (or the community park in the bandshell, or the park's recreation center, or even a national park, if it's close by) - and have fun decorating with dollar store tulle and paper lanterns and homemade flower arrangements and candles in jam jars and and pictures of you both as kids on a table with a guestbook, etc.. You could even have a theme (Fiesta, Victorian, Gaslight, Greate Gatsby, MusicMan, Tropical Island) to coordinate dresses and decorations and music.

Find a sympathetic Marriage Officiant who can design a family-friendly ceremony which is dignified but incorporates the family in some way, whether offering readings, or speaking about the couple or the circumstances. Gather the 'parlour' chairs and have most people stand up for the ceremony but seat the elderly in a few rows in the front. The bride (and the groom) can come down the stairs, enter from the bedroom, or drive up in an old fashioned car. After the ceremony (or if coming back from the park - even walking together -- finish with at "at home" reception of potluck dishes or a catered meal with some big centerpieces (a carving station) and lots of vegetarian options. Ask people to bring desserts or cupcakes like a church social, and build a communal cupcake tree. Set up a taverna or speakeasy bar (hire a bartender from the local community college hospitality program and get the proper liquor permit).  Live music would be the most fun, with IPOD backup for later in the night.  Be sure to invite the neighbours.

Unlike the giant corporate weddings, everyone will be able to talk, and mingle, and have a good time, and everyone will remember it -- and so will you.


Flying a wedding dress in the baggage area

From "stuff I didn't know" --

I found this on a Destination Weddings list from 2006 -- and I can't find the original source, sorry -- so for those of you who fly First Class, grab that coat closet before someone tucks their Xtreme Skateboarding gear in it...

"How do I get my wedding dress there safely?

If you are flying, you can usually make arrangements with your airline in advance. First-class cabins have large "coat closets" that can be used for bridal gown storage. If your plane does not have a first-class area (on airlines such as Southwest), it is highly recommended that you package the dress in a large box and ship it to your destination in advance, carefully packed in tissue to hold its shape. Regardless of the method you choose, look into having your gown pressed at a local cleaners upon your arrival. Your hotel's concierge can help with this."

So there you go. If you want to bring a Cinderella goes to the ball dress to an elopement, just tuck it in steerage with the cellos and the pomeranians!


Organic corsets & Bustiers

Why not? (the picture shows 19th century corsets).

Organic, fair trade, hand-made - 'formaldehyde-free silk vine inserts'.
And you can wear it AGAIN with another SKIRT! see Rene Geneva

I've added it to our organic wedding dress suppliers over at
And see the Medieval gown maker, A Very Merry Seamstress, (in NY), who will fit your wedding dress with a bodice-pattern called a 'sloper' -- a new term I just learned.


Non-sexist wedding vows

The whole issue of "obey" in the wedding service keeps popping up. I answered this again on Yahoo (here's a copy) explaining that the original churches who used this form, the Catholic and the Anglican/Episcopal, have now dropped it. So there's no reason for anybody to tell you to include it in the ceremony.

If you want some alternative vows, both modern and traditional, which emphasize the equal, cooperative, reciprocal bond of marriage, see this FAQ post on vows.

You may also enjoy our updated Medieval Ceremony, which takes out both "Obey" and the religious references. We updated the medieval request for the bride to be "buxom and bonny in bed and in board" (fun!) with a charge to groom to be "hale and hearty at bed and at board" - it only works if both people promise!


How long is a wedding ceremony?

I answered this on Yahoo Answers (and it won :-) so I posted it our wedding FAQs - it's a run-down of the timings for a basic ceremony. Hope it's helpful!

See also: Minimum Ceremony for a Legal Wedding


Medieval, Renaissance and LOTR wedding dresses

I just found this site for medieval wedding dresses, appropriately called Rivendell Bridal. It's in the UK, but they ship anywhere. They have a good gallery of 'real brides' wearing their creations. You can obviously get some good ideas here, and adapt the dresses for organic/fair trade/winter/ whatever you wish. I've never done a LOTR wedding, though we did a couple of StarWars, see the Padme post below. You might enjoy our civil Medieval ceremony, which we've adapted for secular use. It would be interesting to create a MiddleEarth variant. Perhaps a water, air and earth ceremony... hmmm

Oh, and here's another costumier in the UK, who used to work for ballet companies and the RSC. Enjoy her Pre-Raphaelite and custom wedding dress designs.

Here is a great source in New York for Medieval dresses: The Very Merry Seamstress. It's a great site, and the owner writes a nice blog, as well. I love their bodice fitting process: (and I learned a new word: sloper - I shall now talk about my 'slope', I think, it's a fun word to use instead of bosom)

"Customized fit for brides: If you're worried about the fit, just let us know. We offer a muslin sloper (sample bodice) service for $50. We will send you a "practice" bodice with instructions for you to try on, write on, pin and send back to us to ensure your bodice fits you to a tee - In order to use this service, You must (and this is required) be able to take this sloper to a local professional seamstress - or someone who understands how to fit a sloper - and have them "fit" it to you, then mail the sloper back to us"

Multicultural weddings - so many dresses, so little time

In some cultures, the bride and groom change clothes for each separate element of a traditional wedding. I once witnessed a bride changing three times for a Chinese wedding, and also a Korean wedding. However, THIS wedding is astounding. Four changes, four ceremonies, 1000 people at the banquet - the horse, the band, the lion dancers -- it makes you want to scream "elope, already!" I hope they had a good party.

We have conducted several weddings which blended cultural traditions. As we specialize in non-religious weddings, we have sometimes co-officiated with religious clergy (an imam, a deacon, a rabbi), so that appropriate blessings and ceremonies could be performed by religious clergy. We handled the civil, legal parts. Or the bride and groom have had a religious ceremony or a private tea ceremony earlier in the day, and then we performed the civil ceremony in the western tradition. But many traditions are cultural, not religious. So we have also incorporated the arrhae, the cord and the veil from Filipino (Spanish) traditions, the fire ceremony, the 7 blessings, the wine blessing, the bread and salt, the tea and saki ceremony, handfasting, and many other lovely traditions in our standard ceremony. Write us if you're interested.

In some cases, it's possible to blend the ceremonies together. So once we included the garlanding of the bride, the 7 steps (fire ceremony) and the Filipino rope ceremony in one simple outdoor ritual of walking around a wedding candle, while the bride and groom were covered in a chain of flowers draped in an infinity (8) pattern. It suited the parents and the couple, and was lovely. But you can do this in a small family wedding or with even a handful of people. If you want the BIG FAT MULTICULTURAL wedding - better start looking for the horses.


When do you sign the marriage license?

This was a recent question on Yahoo - so I wrote an answer:

The important point about the marriage license, is that whenever you sign the license, that is your legal wedding time and date. The wedding ceremony can be held at the same time, as is usual, or before or after the legal signing. Remember Charles and Camilla's wedding: They went to the registry office and signed the marriage license with a few witnesses (that was their legal wedding). Then Camilla change clothes and they went to the Cathedral for their "Wedding Blessing". It could have easily happened on separate days.

We have had cases where the couple wanted their legal wedding to be a different date or time (for sentimental reasons, perhaps their first anniversary date, or because an astrologer picked a better date for a propitious wedding, or because it was their parents or grandparents wedding anniversary) or -- because they need a legal marriage license filed earlier for healthcare or travel documents, or other legal reasons.

So I have gone to couple's homes with their witnesses and signed the license at various dates before or after the family/church wedding ceremony. Just be sure that your officiant is careful to comply with the laws in your state or country - some places have waiting periods - most common is 24 hours to the MINUTE after the license was issued -- before it can be legally signed. ONCE IT IS SIGNED BY THE COUPLE AND THE WITNESSES AND THE OFFICIANT, that is your LEGAL wedding date and time, as compared to your CEREMONY date and time.

If you don't want to see each other before the wedding, you can ask your officiant to go back and forth between the bride and groom and have them and the witnesses fill out the license separately, so the couple do not see each other. If you leave the signatures blank, a simple signature signing can be completed after the ceremony. The license is not legal until the officiant signs and dates it, so you should leave the time and date blank until the wedding is finished. But it is technically possible to have the license signed by everyone but the officiant before the ceremony.

Some cultures (esp Jewish) sign the license and the ketubah before the ceremony. Some cultures (Quaker) include the signing of the license and a larger marriage certificate at the end of the ceremony, and then ask all the guests to sign the certificate at the reception.

To incorporate a signing into the ceremony, we often follow the vows and the rings and the kiss with the official signing, and say: "to comply with the laws of _______ state, we will now ask the bride and groom and their witnesses (which can be best man/maid of honor OR siblings, or two moms, or two best friends, etc.) to come forward", and we each sign. This is very quick, if we have filled out the license before.

The MOST common signing is during the cocktail hour. The couple leave the wedding location, the witnesses and the officiant follow them (often after leaving them alone for the traditional 18 minutes, or 9x2 in the Jewish tradition), and we all sign in a calm atmosphere before the couple re-enters the reception. The best man often presents them, and says "and now, for the first time as a LEGALLY married couple, we welcome x and x, husband and wife ...."


Recycled wedding favors and decorations

Many of the DIY bridal sites have ideas you can borrow and make yourself, of course, so you don't have to worry about the carbon offset imprint of shipping your eco-recycled wedding invitations from San Francisco. Here's an example. Etsy was spotlighting these decorations made from recycled Harlequin Romanance Novels (cut as daisies with buttons for the center). It looks to me like they xeroxed the pages and enlarged the print, though. However, most public libraries discard or sell their romance paperbacks for a dime - get your young relatives or someone else crafty to make the flowers - or fold the pages into orgami shapes (they've painted the edges, and you could also fold them into baskets and paint the tops). You could probably use the cover for stuff, as well - put them in those $1.00 picture frames that stand up -- table decorations, perhaps. The point: a little browsing around on the etsy and will give you lots of ideas you can adapt for a no-cost/low-cost wedding.

Here is a post on our ethicalweddings site on recycled paper and tree-free invitations.