OATHING STONES: For Marriage Vows and More

Hearken back to a time long ago when people believed the land was the home of the ancestors.  Everyone knew that the spirits of loved ones who had died now guided and protected those still walking the earth. Everyone understood that physical survival depended on spiritual connection.

A stone that came from the land bridged the worlds of here and beyond. To swear an oath with your hand on the stone forged an invisible link to your ancestors. Break your oath and you break your connection. You risk survival.  If your clan knew you’d broken your vow, their support would also be in jeopardy.  If you didn’t honor a commitment to your ancestors, how could you be trusted? Continue reading

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HARVEST SEASON: Debt and the Power of Prosperity

In the “Old World” of my Celtic ancestors, August marked the beginning of the harvest season. Country fairs called people from the fields where they grew crops and from the open lands where they grazed herds. August heralded a time to acknowledge hard work and enjoy its rewards.

In Ireland, Lammas was the first and most popular of the harvest fairs. Young men, muscled from months of work in the fields, competed with each other by chopping logs, lifting stones, shooting arrows, and tossing bales of hay, all in an effort to impress young women. Some local authorities prohibited such physical displays. They feared the unruly youth and their visible show of strength. What if the balance of power shifted?

August was also the time when those who owned land paid their taxes and others paid rent. In some parts of Ireland, those who owed money anxiously eyed the debtors’ prison, praying to see a white glove. Should the aristocratic symbol be on view, the peasants would enjoy a grace period. They needn’t fear arrest for lack of funds to pay their debts. At least not in August. Continue reading

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The Power of Place: 3 New England Venues

An elegant mansion. A working vineyard. An historic hotel. A venue’s design, geography, purpose, and history speak volumes about the power of place. Here are three examples.

Lauren enters with her dad

Lauren enters with her dad

The Lord Thompson Manor: Dreams Come True
http://www.lordthompsonmanor.com

The historic Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, CT, is known for its romance, aristocratic grace, service, and exquisite attention to detail.

Bride Groom and bridal party pretty in blue

Bride Groom and bridal party pretty in blue

Wedding rituals included a handfasting and parental blessing with bread

Wedding rituals included a handfasting and parental blessing with bread

Earlier this year, I was honored to officiate for Lauren and Brian. Their ceremony was held in the Manor’s garden. The box elder, stone walls and statuary speak of stability and history. A petal strewn path and chandeliers hanging from the wrought iron gazebo and from the limbs of stately trees affirm that the fairy tale wedding comes true here. I suspect husband and wife owners, Andrew and Jackie, have a magic wand.

Feel the enchantment. Continue reading

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SUMMER SOLSTICE ~ WATER and FIRE

Yellow flowers represent the Sun

Yellow flowers represent the Sun

In June of 2015, I led a Summer Solstice ritual at Meg’s, a gift shop and spiritual boutique in Manchester, CT. With my European ancestors in mind, we envisioned people living in ancient times and imagined their anxiety as the sun’s light diminished with each passing day. Would there be enough light to grow food? Or would they starve? Would there be enough heat to say warm? Or would they freeze? Once winter came, would it ever leave? It’s no wonder the ancients held rituals to honor the sun, to plead for its return.

A ritual is a visible act performed with invisible intent. What kind of rituals did the ancients create for the Summer Solstice? They lit bonfires to connect with the powerful sun. They drank from sacred wells to connect with the tender moon. Why both the sun and moon? Because people whose lives were entwined with the land knew that too much fire burns, that too much water drowns. Continue reading

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CHUPPAHS, ARCHANGELS, ASTROLOGY, AND THE FOUR ROYAL STARS OF PERSIA

I’m often asked to create a ceremony for a couple who come from two different spiritual paths or follow no particular path but want spiritual elements to make the ceremony comfortable for their parents. Such was the case in a recent wedding of a Jewish bride and a Catholic groom.

The bride’s family wanted her to be married under a chuppah. While the groom’s family had no objection whatsoever, the mother of the bride was sensitive to their feelings. What follows is an amended version of the language I wrote for their ceremony: Continue reading

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Handfasting: Tie the Knot

You don’t have to be Celtic to include a handfasting ritual in your wedding ceremony. Tying the knot is something any couple can do. For the guests, my adaptation adds surprise and a little humor. For the couple, a handfasting links them to a tradition both ancient and timeless.

Custom Celtic handfasting cord in red, green, black, white of Hindu ceremonial silk

Custom Celtic handfasting cord in red, green, black, white of Hindu ceremonial silk

Couples didn’t always exchange rings. Before that tradition became popular, a couple might stand at the hearth of a family member’s home, or gather in a place their community considered sacred, often a grove of old trees. Or, they might gather around an object considered significant to the community’s well-being, such as the blacksmith’s anvil. Why the blacksmith? He was the one who forged links and tempered metal to make it strong. Before a family elder, village official, or blacksmith, the couple would declare themselves united. To symbolize the commitment, the person in authority would use a cord to fasten, or “fast,” their hands together. The couple would then work to free their hands. Continue reading

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My Couples Inspire My Rituals

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Laurie takes in the joy of the moment / Photo by Carol Chaput

When I meet with a Couple, I ask dozens of questions. What are their hobbies and interests? Do they like to cook? Garden? Do they connect with their cultural roots? Is there a place they consider sacred? I use their answers to write their love story, a key element in their ceremony. Sometimes, their answers inspire me to create a new wedding ritual — like this one about the magical properties of trees. That was the case with Laurie and Alan. Continue reading

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The Wedding Cake – Beyond Butter Cream and Fondant

Executive Chef Matthew Seguro of Vida Doce in Newington, CT, is an expert on wedding cakes. In this segment of Weddings with Zita,

Weddings with Zita logo

Logo – Weddings with Zita show on YouTube

Matthew talks about traditional cakes and trending cakes, flowers and frostings, and how to have an elegant display cake even if you’re on a cupcake budget.

Weddings with Zita features interviews with wedding experts. Launched in August 2014, Weddings with Zita is the newest show on the Zita TV Network, home to Page 1 (the show for writers with the reader in mind) and Full Bloom (the show that celebrates life). Eventually, all the interviews on the old channel (Zita Christian) will be moved to Zita TV Network. The website is being built at this very moment!

Zita TV logo

Zita TV Network is home to 3 shows on YouTube.com/ZitaTVNetwork

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Please — I Need Your Vote

For the first time, I’m stepping into the world of wedding awards. I would greatly appreciate your vote.

Each year the Wedding Industry Experts Awards attract an impressive list of world class wedding professionals and related businesses from across the globe. The awards are now the largest international competition for Wedding Professionals worldwide. Voting begins May 1 and closes May 31.

As with any industry, it can be daunting to be compared to others who have developed their business over many years. Fortunately for me, Wedding Industry Experts offers a category for professionals who have been in business for three years or fewer. I’ve entered the category for Celebrants/Officiants.

In describing my service, I say that I’m a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who caters to the unchurched, those couples who want a unique, professional, and genuinely personal ceremony without elements of a specific religion. I am a proud supporter of marriage equality.

The beauty of the Wedding Industry Experts Award competition is that voting is not restricted to only those couples whose weddings I’ve performed. My family can vote. My friends can vote. Your friends and family can vote!

Here is the link to my vote page at Wedding Industry Awards.

Voting is simple. One vote per email address and you can register quickly with one click via your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin accounts. They won’t send you spam! It’s just to keep the voting honest. Voting opens on May 1 and closes on May 31.

Thanks for your consideration, your time, and your vote.

"And so the binding is made..." all part of the handfasting ceremony

“And so the binding is made…” all part of the handfasting ceremony

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The Wedding Jar

Even the shortest, simplest wedding ceremony deserves to be special. It is, after all, a celebration of love and a commitment intended to last for life. It was for these simple ceremonies that I created a ritual I call “The Wedding Jar.”

A Wedding Jar to contain wishes and blessings for the couple

A Wedding Jar to contain wishes and blessings for the couple

I initially designed this ritual for same-sex couples who came to Connecticut where marriage equality is honored, where residency is not a requirement, and where there is no waiting period. I quickly discovered how easily the ritual can be adapted for use in traditional ceremonies, not only for the couple, but as a way to involve their parents, or the maid of honor and best man, or children when families are blended. Continue reading

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