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    Tune Out Fictional Weddings and Tune in to Your Own Marriage Desires

    howardWhile going from dinner at the food court in San Francisco Centre to ODC’s dance performance in Yerba Buena Center, my boyfriend and I walked through Bloomingdales. Their lower level sales floor contains china, crystal and all sorts of housewares.

    He said that while he appreciates the aesthetics of many of the items, he didn’t feel the need to fill up his apartment with them. I responded that it can sometimes be difficult not to buy into our consumer culture.

    This column could be about alternative gift ideas. However, what our interaction got me pondering is:

    How much is the wedding event a reflection of the couple getting married, versus how much does it reflect what’s seen in movies, television and two-inch-thick wedding magazines? It’s true that as an officiant, I am involved with the wedding industry…even if the income I derive from it isn’t what motivates me.

    I encourage couples to make their wedding their own. It is their wedding. I enjoy customizing a ceremony to include stanzas from a couple’s favorite poet, lyrics from their favorite songs and readings from their favorite authors. If a couple wants a ceremony with no reference to God, I can easily accommodate their request. I’m happy to conduct a wedding anywhere a couple chooses, other than a hot air balloon (a phobia of mine). I invite couples to explore what rituals, if any, will make the ceremony richer for them.

    Overall, I encourage couples to think about what will make the ceremony feel like it was tailored exactly for them, since this is what I love doing! Rather than pattern the ceremony after Hollywood’s more than difficult to live up to portrayal of a wedding, or what etiquette books may say is the correct way of walking and talking, I hope a ceremony allows each member of the couple to feel like we have fashioned a ceremony that speaks from their heart, even (or especially) if they’re not doing any of the speaking, other than “I do!”

    Now that I’m well into my 50’s, I have finally come to trust my instincts. My groundedness allows me to support couples to hear and then trust their instincts. In this way, they can counterbalance any media messages or comments from family
    or friends that don’t feel right.

    We’re bombarded with hundreds, possibly thousands, of consumer messages and social expectations daily. We can learn not to let the stimuli blindly guide our actions if we learn to cultivate our own unique visions, which can help to guide wedding ceremonies and so much more.

    Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator based in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.SFHoward.com