Cynthia and I had the wonderful honor of spending time with one of the best human beings on the planet - who is also a wonderful artist. Maggie Hayes, of Maggie Hayes Photography met with us at Mordecai Historical Park on Saturday evening to chase the sun and take some wonderful pictures of us.
Here's a sneak peak of the shoot!
Thank you so much Maggie! You always bring me peace and laughter. You are a delight to work with.
Cynthia and I have a full week ahead of us, with weddings and memorials. It is an honor to work with couples who are starting a new life together. It is an equal honor to work with families who are mourning the end of the life of a loved one.
It's this balance that helps us offer a unique perspective on the human condition. The yin and yang of life. Where there is light, there is shadow - and we need the contrast of each one to see the other.
Funeral and memorial services are for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. They offer us a space to hold our grief and remind us that each of us leads a life of special interest and value, that each one of us is unique, with our own special gifts.
The process of creating the memorial ceremony is often healing; sharing the ways your loved one touched your lives and others, recounting their unique personality and interests is very important.
Humanist memorial services are non-religious in content and form; they provide an opportunity for those of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to focus on the person commemorated in the ceremony, and to celebrate the special place they have in the hearts of those in attendance.
This week's memorials are especially hard for both of us because they are both for young men, in their 20's. As parents, our life's largest fear is the pain and loss of our children. As officiants, we are able to listen to their story and create a ceremony that offers a space to hold grief, to say good bye, and to begin the healing process. Sitting with these families and sharing in their sadness is heart wrenching and important. To celebrate the life of their beloved child is both an honor and a great responsibility.
Peace be with you and hug your loved ones for us.
It's always thrilling to see one of our weddings in any publication - print and online. This was no different! Our friend and wedding planner extraordinaire, Erica Greenwold Reisen from Folie à Deux Events and her beloved, James are the featured bride on one of our favorite wedding resources: bespoke-bride.com
Totally Rad Wedding Planning
There are some people you meet and you know in an instant you are drawn to them because the qualities you like most about your insides are expressed on this person's outsides - for me, this person is Erica Greenwold Reisen.
Erica is the owner and operator of Folie à Deux Events, a wedding planning and event design service based in Chapel Hill.
I met Erica and her fantastic husband, James, when I officiated their first wedding. Yes, they had two weddings. Life is complicated and Erica is someone who knows how to cut through the complications and do what needs to be done.
Instantly, I fell in love with Erica's impeccable style, her kindness, her passion for all things wedding, craft beer,sewing, and sci-fi. We share these passions, and while I'm all in for craft beer, she and James took it a step farther and let me create a black-and-tan unity ceremony for their beautiful wedding at Motorco Music Hall. It was the bomb, yo!
I have worked with Erica professionally on many weddings and each time the couple has been so excited and thrilled with her services. Beyond being a classically trained wedding gown designer, Erica is a master plate spinner. She specializes in the alternative and unexpected and is always up for a challenge. Her organizational skills are legendary and she helps couples with everything from seating plans to vendor coordination to out of town guest accommodations. It is my great pleasure to introduce Erica to all of the couples I work with because I know they will be in very competent and loving hands.
Personally, I appreciate Erica's dedication to secular wedding professionals. She has created a network of vendors who share similar world views and we meet to talk about everything from how we can best serve our clients to how we can make a difference in the world.
She has a great blog and website. Check her out at folieadeuxevents.com; you'll be so glad that you did.
It's wonderful to meet new people in the wedding industry and share them with you. It's really great to meet them again, and again, and again - it reinforces that you are working with people who others trust and rely on. This happened to me online today. I'd like to introduce to you: Tamisha Diaz. We met last year on one of North Carolina's hottest days. You would never know that Tamisha even felt the heat at all. She is an amazing professional who made the bride and groom completely at ease and captured precious moments throughout the day. Here is her blogpost from that day - check out the grand shot of the bridal party and guests. Each guest had a pair of sunglasses in their chair. This was really cool!
NC Secular Weddings is growing and we couldn't be more excited! It is my absolute pleasure to welcome on board, Cynthia Wooten. I met Cynthia through a mutual friend last year and we instantly connected on so many levels. Cynthia is a social activist and social justice warrior. She has experience that only comes from working with people who need the most help and her kindness is legendary.
In 2016, Cynthia agreed to be my emergency officiant contact - I could call her if I was too ill, broke a leg, or couldn't officiate a ceremony for any reason. Fortunately, I haven't had to call Cynthia in as back up, but I find myself referring clients to her when I am booked because Cynthia is the person I would want officiating my wedding if I were getting married today.
We've joined forces and we are thrilled to offer Officiant Services to all who need them. As a secular officiant, I've found that most couples I work with are looking for an Officiant who shares their values and worldview when it comes to important milestones. There are a lot of traditional ministers who will perform secular services, which is great, however, the genuineness that Cynthia and I bring to ceremonies is something the couples we've worked with appreciate. Your spirituality is completely personal and your ceremony should reflect that. Cynthia and I are excited to get to know you and help you create the ceremony of your dreams.
You may notice that our pricing has changed. If you've contacted Kenna or Cynthia regarding your ceremony before March 1st, we will honor the previous pricing. This change reflects our experience and confidence that your wedding ceremony will be spectacular. We have also added a new option for couples - a Choose Your Own Adventure Wedding Ceremony. This is super cool! We present couples with a few different styles of verbiage for each section of their wedding. They get to put their ceremony together and make any additions or changes. This is a more affordable option for couples who want more than a Simple Wedding Ceremony. This is going to be fun!
Last weekend I officiated a wedding for a lovely couple, Paul and Brittany, who had the largest wedding party I've ever worked with - 12 attendants on each side. Counting the family and the bridal party, there were 35 of us to line up for our entrance. The wedding was gorgeous and the mixed-gender attendants were dazzling in gold and aubergine. Brittany and Paul held their wedding at the Life and Science Museum in Durham. This was a stellar venue with a great hall for the ceremony and fantastic exhibits for the reception. If you are looking for a way to connect your sense of wonder and inner science nerd, a museum is an excellent venue for your wedding. Paul proposed to Brittany with a Harry Potter book (her favorite and mine too!) so I was able to squeak in an Albus Dumbledore quote into the ceremony and it was well received.
Personally, I've been under the weather a bit this year. Between viruses and the flu, we've been investing in Lysol for our home. The political scene isn't helping with my depression and anxiety and I've found that I have to temporarily disconnect from politics for self care reasons - finding balance is always challenging and I'm working on finding it here as well. I've been practicing a lot of compassion exercises and meditating on how I see the world. There is so much love and kindness in the world, and it's balance is hate and fear. I'm so saddened by the divisions that run through our communities and homes. Between the election and the inauguration, I was honored to offer free weddings to members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities as my way of letting people know that you may find yourself part of a group that is marginalized and feel threatened, but you are not alone and you are part of the wider, human community, and I support your right to be married, to be here, and to be loved.
Cynthia is a wonderful person and I couldn't be more thrilled to collaborate with her. I am looking forward to watching her love story with all of you unfold. Because this is what we are doing, love. We get to love the people we work with - how amazing is that, when it's a wedding, we fall in love with the couple and help them organize their thoughts on how they want to celebrate their love. When we officiate a funeral or memorial service, we fall in love with the person who has died and the loved ones who are grieving for their loss - we get to share that time with them, to hear the stories about their loved one, and create a way to celebrate their life and acknowledge the pain of the living. When we officiate a baby naming ceremony, we get to fall in love with a beautiful new life, full of potential, who is being welcomed into their community and family with celebratory fanfare. When we officiate a trans-naming ceremony, we get to fall in love with the person in front of us, the person who has spent so much time becoming themselves and is now ready to publicly declare and celebrate their transition into their true selves. This is excellent work for people who love, and I am certain that Cynthia is my soul sister when it comes to loving people. Welcome Cynthia. I am so glad to know you, to be a part of your life, and have you be in mine.
Time is precious, thank you for yours.
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