Mark and Kathy were married on the beach at the Ocean Landing Resort in Cocoa Beach on October 05, 2013, a beautiful evening indeed.
I had a great time both preparing for Mark and Kathy's wedding and on-site at the ceremony. The groomsmen were so friendly and funny.
This was one of those weddings that pushed me a little beyond my comfort zone and I love that! Some of their parents primarily spoke Spanish with limited English so I included key passages in their native language to facilitate their understanding of the ceremony.
I generally have very few nerves associated with public speaking...until I'm using Spanish or French. Then the butterflies make their appearance. I was very gratified when one of the guests posted on Facebook, " I thought your Spanish was really good!! You did a great job!" Whew!!!
Kathy and Mark 's gray and orange wedding colors were spectacular! Florida Beachside Weddings did the decorations and they really were striking for an evening beach wedding in the fall.
Kathy and Mark originally met in high school, but alas the romance didn't truly blossom until years later. How wonderful that it did! These two are certainly made for one another.
Their non-denominational ceremony included a signing of the license following the exchange of rings. The couple then presented Kathy's children with a gift and included them in a Family Sand Ceremony. They also included their guests by concluding the ceremony with a Wish Upon a Shell. Lest you think this sounds like a lot, their ceremony lasted about twenty minutes. Haven't I mentioned the average ceremony is much shorter than most people think?
Once I had the Best Man and Maid of Honor sign the marriage license, I did a quick change on the beach...to a standing ovation from some guests out on their balcony. It takes some effort to do this discretely, now I know how those surfers feel. I went straight to Florida Tech where I watched my boys play Eckerd...and lose by a single goal with just seconds left in the match.
That may have been a loss, but Mark and Kathy definitely put one in the win column that day. Weddings and soccer, I'm in heaven!
Photo Attributes: All of these images were taken by a friend using a Point & Shoot.
Many people associate the tradition of breaking the glass with Jewish weddings and do not realize it is also an Italian custom. While they appear similar, they are not the same ritual. They are usually placed at different times during the festivities and convey unrelated symbolic meaning.
In Jewish weddings here in the western tradition, the breaking of the glass is often done by the groom at the conclusion of the ceremony. He grinds the class beneath his right foot and the guests typically shout, "Mazel Tov!" The origin and the meaning of the ritual are very difficult to pin down as there have been a number of stories circulating about it for centuries. For example, an article at Chabad.org which references these difficulties in detail says, "From the Talmud it would appear that breaking the glass served to engender sobriety and balanced behavior,..." and discusses more contemporary reinterpretations of the custom.
At Italian weddings, the couple both stomp on the glass together and attempt to grind it into as many pieces as they can. The ritual is usually done at the conclusion of the reception rather than the ceremony, but can certainly be used to conclude the ceremony if the couple wishes to do so. The number of glass shards is said to represent the number of happy years the couple will have together, so clearly they want to spend a little time crushing it as thoroughly as possible.
I recently officiated a wedding for a couple at the Tides Collocated Club who concluded their wedding ceremony with a breaking of the glass. After the Declaration of Marriage and their kiss, we simply placed a silk bag containing a wine glass on the ground in front of them and I said the following words:
Photo Attributes: Danielle sent me the picture of the vase with the shards of glass above and I believe it was one of the groomsmen who took the photo of Joseph, Danielle and me with my camera.
As a wedding officiant, I have the pleasure of meeting a wide variety of people. I have encountered some truly remarkable individuals ~ incredibly sweet, wickedly funny, seriously intelligent, astoundingly generous...and yes, some leave me scratching my head. Today we're taking a trip to the somewhat stranger side of officiating while I share with you some questions people have asked me, both in person and through email.
Question: We've seen people use dogs as ring bearers and we'd really like our Best Man to carry our python in with the rings. He doesn't want to do it, what's his problem?
WIRWTS: That he agreed to be your Best Man.
Question: Should we serve young children at our reception?
WIRWTS: That's illegal. I suggest you choose something off of your caterer's standard menu.
Question: If my husband held his hand behind his back and crossed his fingers while he said his vows, are we still married?
WIRWTS: What are you twelve? Okay, here's what you do. Wait for the full moon, stand outside at midnight, throw a handful of salt over your left shoulder and turn around clock-wise three times. Now you're still married.
Question: We're expecting our first child in a couple of months and thought it would be really romantic if we had an officiant come in to the delivery room with us. We'd like to exchange vows during the delivery and have you pronounce us husband and wife at the moment he cuts the cord. Cool idea, isn't it?
WIRWTS: Here's a Lamaze Childbirth DVD. Watch it and get back to me on how romantic you think that moment is going to be.
Question: (Email sent at 11:43 a.m.) We're getting married at (location an hour away) at 1:30 this afternoon and just realized we need an officiant. Are you available?
WIRWTS: You're just realizing now....and you send out an email? Good luck with that.
Question: We don't care about rain, but we're worried about snow on our (February) wedding day. Do you know if (venue in Cocoa Beach, FL) has a backup plan for that?
WIRWTS: Highly unlikely, maybe you should try somewhere in Miami just to be completely safe?
Question: (October wedding in an election year) My family are all democrats and his are all republicans. We were thinking of having a political themed wedding with blue on the left and red on the right, what do you think?
WIRWTS: That I'm going nowhere near your house at Thanksgiving.
Photo Attribute: Image Courtesy of Scoobie's Photographic Images Just a picture of me for this one. I didn't want to show any particular wedding so as not to associate the innocent with the guilty.
Nicole and Matthew have known one another since they were kids, so they've already been there for each other in both good times and in bad. This was one of those weddings where I'm tempted to start out with, "We are gathered here this day, to celebrate and affirm the public declaration of what has already been united in their hearts....finally!"
Nicole asked me about officiating her wedding because her dad had been the best man at a private wedding I officiated several years ago. While I would like to think I made an impression as an officiant, it could also just as easily be because of my address. He realized when signing the marriage license that I lived across the street from his old house...and confessed to once setting a portion of my roof on fire with fireworks. That's okay since my husband picked up where he left off and is now the neighborhood pyrotechnic go-to guy every Fourth of July.
Matthew and Nicole were married at the Front Street Civic Center on Sunday, October 20. They loved the idea of using Oathing Stones and were also planning to include a Sand Ceremony. Nicole had a flash of genius and asked if we could distribute stones to the guests to hold during part of the ceremony and then collect them in the sand ceremony vase as the foundation for their unity ritual. Excellent idea!
Their daughter distributed the stones during the Words of Welcome and collected them right before the Vow Exchange. Nicole and Matthew wrote beautiful vows they read to one another with their hands clasped over the jar of stones. I think the DJ got tears in his eyes. I know I did.
The couple also used an antique bell belonging to Nicole's grandmother for the Bell of Truce ritual. Very appropriate reminder that love has a past, a present, and a future. It may sound like they had an awful lot going on in their ceremony, but because they chose rituals meaningful to them, everything flowed together splendidly.
They were attended by a Best Man, Maid of Honor, two bridesmaids, two groomsmen, a ring bearer, and stone bearer. The red, white, and black theme set off the reception area of the Civic Center spectacularly.
Best wishes for many many years of wedded bliss!
Madhu in Florida: My fiance and I come from very different families. My parents immigrated from India and his family is third generation Italian-American. We would like both of our religions (even though neither of us are very devout) and our cultural traditions be a part of our wedding. Is that even possible?
Rev. Ann: Long gone are the days when marriage partners were found in the same tribe, clan, village...or even nation. As our world got smaller due to technological advances in communication and travel, our pool of potential spouses increased dramatically. Consequently, I serve many couples with concerns similar to yours. The religions and the cultures may vary, but not the desire to honor them within the context of a wedding ceremony.
This is one of the few circumstances where I would unreservedly recommend a high quality independent officiant rather than use an amateur. If you both have clergy willing to work together, that can be a great choice. If you don't, I encourage you to take the time to select someone who either understands both of your cultures or is willing to do the research necessary to learn. Blending religious and cultural elements into a ceremony may not be rocket science, but it does require care and skill to construct meaningfully. So yes, it is entirely possible and can be quite beautiful!
Kathryn in South Carolina: How much time should we allow for pictures between our ceremony and our reception?
Rev. Ann: Kathryn's question is one I receive regularly from the couples I serve and frequently encounter at on-line wedding planning forums. The quick answer is there is no single answer. The time you should allot for portraits after a wedding ceremony completely depends upon your unique circumstances.
How many people are in the wedding party? How many familiar members need to be organized for group portraits? Will you be taking pictures where the ceremony took place or do you need to build in the time to move to a more picturesque location? Will you be taking some of your portraits before the ceremony or doing all portrait taking afterwards?
Photographers also work at different paces, with some moving at a faster clip while others can border on tediously slow. Neither pace necessarily indicative of the quality of their work. My advice when it comes to this question is quite simple. Why are you asking me (or your mom, or your friends, or an on-line community of strangers) ?! Write an email or pick up the phone and ask the the only person able to give you a realistic answer. ~ your photographer.
Photo Attribute: image courtesy of Luv Luv Photography
It has been well over a month since I've added to my blog. I do apologize for the lengthy lapse, but every once in awhile we are all entitled to a bit of a break, right? During this time, I have received a number of questions from my blog readers and will be answering them over the course of the next week or so. Happy wedding planning!
Justine in Ohio: My fiance wants to elope to Florida with just us, our parents, and a few close friends. I kind of like the idea since this is my second marriage and I've already done the big church thing, but I don't know if eloping is the right way to go. What do you think?
Rev. Ann: If you're struggling with the idea because you are uncomfortable with the term "elope," you can relax and start planning. What your fiance has in mind does not sound like an elopement, but rather a destination wedding. I do encounter a fair number of couples who think they are eloping if they get married somewhere far from home and/or only have a few guests in attendance. To elope is defined as "to run off secretly to be married, usually without the consent or knowledge of one's parents" If your friends and family know about your intentions, whether they are invited or not, you are not eloping.You are just having an intimate sized destination wedding. If you find the idea appealing, it seems the two of you are in agreement. Plan away!
Harry in California: We have hired an officiant for our rehearsal and wedding and were wondering if we should invite him and his wife to the rehearsal dinner and reception. What do people usually do when hiring someone they don't already know?
Rev. Ann: I find it admirable you are thinking of his wife as well, but rest assured you are under no obligation to invite your officiant and his spouse to the rehearsal dinner or reception. It's certainly a lovely gesture if you truly want their company, but you needn't consider it either a social or professional requirement. If you do decide to invite them, make sure you do so formally and in advance of the wedding date. An "oh, you are staying for the dinner/reception?" during the rehearsal or at the ceremony can be rather awkward. Please do not be disappointed if your officiant declines. Socializing with strangers, even when one's spouse is present, can be a little uncomfortable for most people and our schedules are usually set weeks or months in advance.
In addition, a good officiant is managing the emotional energy of the occasion and may be mentally exhausted following the rehearsal and/or ceremony. Officiating is work! Personally, I am an off-the-chart introvert in the Myers-Briggs sense and am quite literally drained of energy after some weddings. The idea of staying for a reception and having to be charming fills me with dread at times.
Photo Attribute: Image courtesy of Jeff Carr Photography
Simple, but elegant!
My comments are unlikely to come as a shock to most people since according to a CBS poll this past June, 80% of Americans share my conviction we spend entirely too much on weddings. Out of sheer curiosity I went to costofwedding.com and looked up how much a wedding in my area costs. Cue jaw drop.
Couples that live in or travel to Brevard County, Florida spend between $17,732 and $29,554 on average for their wedding. We are a popular destination spot with our lovely beaches, so about 43% do spend less than $10,000, I'm assuming because they are eloping or are inviting fewer than 50 guests.
At the national level, Americans are spending $25,656 for their wedding with the majority of couples spending between $19,242 and $32,070. As I suspected, we are slightly below the national average, but still pricey! Although I find the price tag steep, that is not what concerns me most about the wedding industry today.
I visit wedding planning sites and participate on bridal forums to keep current on wedding trends, gain advice from colleagues, and share what I have learned over the years. Consequently, I think I have a grasp on what couples are facing when planning a wedding today and I am appalled. I certainly recall being concerned with the budget and experiencing the natural anxiety that comes with decision-making. I was not, however, completely wrapped around the axle over endless details and a sense of overwhelming obligation I detect in brides (and grooms) today.
Many times a day I wish I could reach through my computer, put my arms around a panicked bride, and reassure her that whatever she decides to do for her wedding will be just fine. No, she does not have to provide favors for her guests. No, there is no requirement for an open bar to accommodate drinkers when all she can afford is beer and wine. No, she does not have to have a single bridesmaid, let alone five! People will not remember if she had personalized napkins or not.The notion of the window dressings of a wedding being requirements is absurd.
The excess is distressing. Particularly since the reception has far outstripped the ceremony in terms of focus. While I love a good party as much as the next person, I am concerned the reason for the occasion is being somewhat obscured with this obsession with detail. And the detail has to be contributing to the hefty wedding price tag.
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings
Photo Attribute: Images courtesy of Shannon Perez of Simply In Love Photography who also made the bulk of the wedding day arrangements, provided the decorations for the ceremony, and essentially made it all come together beautifully for Tai and Katie.
* This is sweet and romantic, but keep in mind for the ceremony to result in a legal marriage the couple does need to have a valid marriage license. Florida does not have a waiting period for out-of-state residents so the license is valid the moment you get it. Therefore, an eight hour engagement might be possible. I would not recommend surprising your significant other with a same day wedding unless you can squeeze in a trip to the courthouse and do not have a waiting period, or are both perfectly happy with a symbolic wedding followed by a trip to the courthouse another day to make the marriage legal.
Coordination, Decorations, Music, and Photography were by Simply In Love Weddings and of course I officiated.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.