Couples come to me because they want their ceremony to be personal. Here are a few examples of how we've worked together to achieve that goal.
Chelsea and Bill ~ Love Knots
Chelsea and Bill loved sailing and had chosen a nautical theme for their wedding. Knowing that, I created a wedding ritual called “Love Knots” based on the arbor knot, the lovers’ knot, and the marriage knot. At a specific point in the ceremony, pre-selected guests came forward and presented the knots while I read the accompanying descriptions.
The ritual included these excerpts:
“The Arbor Knot is used to tie new line to the reel. It’s the first knot you need to learn. It’s made of two ordinary, everyday, overhand knots. It doesn’t have to be that strong and it’s easy to learn. May this knot always hold your hearts with love.”
“The Lovers’ Knot holds two halves together equally and prevents either one from fraying. May this knot always hold your hearts with love.”
“The Celtic Marriage knot creates a weave of several paths into the shape of a heart. The pattern represents the idea that when two people, independent and whole unto themselves, are joined by love, the weave they create makes them stronger and more beautiful together than either was before. May this knot always hold your hearts with love.”
To echo the theme of knots, I included a handfasting ritual with a cord made in their colors – navy blue, ivory, and multicolored flowers.
Their wedding was featured in WeddingWire’s Real Weddings blog.
From WeddingWire Blog – Real Weddings:
Question to the bride: Give us the one moment in your wedding day you can’t stop thinking about.
Her answer: Our love story during the ceremony – our officiant, who is a romance novelist, wrote a “love story” from questionnaires we filled out, which basically told the history of our relationship. The story she created was amazing, and it made our guests laugh quite a bit. It epitomizes the atmosphere that we wanted for our wedding – thoughtful, personalized and fun.
Chelsea and Bill
Wedding Site: Old Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
Michael and Steve ~ Love is Love
Michael grew up in Ireland at a time when marriage equality was unthinkable. His mother often said she hoped she’d live to see the day when her son could marry Steve, the Englishman he loved. Sadly, Michael’s mom died before that was possible. Her favorite color was red. To honor her memory, both men wore red socks. To honor their Celtic roots, I included a handfasting ceremony with a custom cord made in their colors of red, black, and silver.
I also told their love story, including the chapter when Steve was stricken with cancer. As Steve grew weaker from the treatments, Michael, an Irish stepdancing instructor, frantically studied the basics of horticulture so he could maintain the healing garden Steve had planted around his cottage. Michael had big shoes to fill. Steve’s family had been gardeners to the Queen of England. In the end, Steve’s garden survived. So did Steve. Weeks after the wedding, Michael shared with me that my telling of their love story healed a family rift of many years.
My partner and I live in San Francisco and due to Prop. 8 we had to get married in MA. As we are both from Europe we had to find our officiant online and as Moon River is our favorite song we happened upon Zita. What a wonderful lady. We could not be happier. The ceremony was so personal and Zita's delivery was perfect. Every guest has written and told us it was the best wedding they are ever been to, and many have asked for a copy of the ceremony. My Brother in Ireland said ‘Zita needs to run courses for priests in Ireland.’ We cannot thank Zita enough. What an amazing lady!
Michael and Steve of Ireland, England, and San Francisco, CA
Wedding Site: Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, MA
Maya and Rusty ~ Blending Hindu and Celtic Symbolism
Pediatric nurse Maya first met pediatric surgeon Rusty when he helped her with a high-risk pregnancy (her own!). Many years later, both now divorced,they found themselves working in the same hospital in Boston. When they decided to get married, they wanted their ceremony to be truly personal and to reflect the paths that had brought them together. Rusty incorporated the lyrics of his favorite country song, Broken Road, in his vows.
They also wanted to honor Rusty’s Irish heritage and Maya’s Hindu’s ancestors. So I created a Celtic handfasting cord in the colors of the ceremonial silk used in Maya’s first marriage. Most of all,they wanted the childlren from their first marriages to be comfortable, to know that they came from loving relationships, and to understand that despite the fact that their parents had been married and divorced, Maya and Rusty saw this marriage as lasting forever. To accomplish that, I drew on Maya’s culture and spoke about the power of destiny.
Zita is awesome! She is understanding, creative, fun, deeply thoughtful and provides a depth and meaning to all aspects of the ceremony. And she is fun! We had our wedding on a frozen lake with just family and a few very close friends. She had a meaning for every aspect we did – the first full moon of the year, the fact the snow stopped and it warmed just enough for the ceremony, then snowed again – she has amazing powers!
Maya and Rusty
Wedding Site: A frozen pond, Eagleville CT
Christine and Cole ~ Wind Horse Ritual
In addition to having their love story told, Christine and Cole wanted to incorporate aspect of Buddhism in their wedding ceremony. I created a ritual for them called “Lung Ta” (Wind Horse) based on the meaning behind Tibetan prayer flags.
Six pairs of guests came down the aisle with the prayer flags I had made. Each pair presented the couple with the flags and said one of six blessings. In call-and-response fashion, after each blessing, all the guests joined in the response.
Pair #1: May you have both longevity and good health
All: May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness.
Pair #2 May you have both knowledge and wisdom.
Pair #3: May you have both prosperity and generosity.
Pair #4: May you always be protected and have no reason to fear.
Pair #5: May you always give and receive compassion.
Pair #6: May your home be filled with harmony and friends.
I can honestly say, I have never been to a wedding where so many guests can’t stop talking about the ceremony. Cole and I couldn't have been happier with what Zita created for us. It was incredibly unique, true to us and our love story and simply beautiful. There wasn't a dry eye in the barn – including my own. Zita's words seemed to sum us up so well that I was crying over the beauty in my own love story!
Christina and Cole
Wedding Site: White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield, CT
Angela and John ~ Honoring Celtic Roots
Angela had only recently learned the richness of her Celtic roots and wanted to embrace them in the ceremony. With that in mind, I created a ritual called “Blessing of Nine Waves.” I used several starfish and a replica of a giant shell filled it with salt water. Here’s an excerpt from the ceremony: “Coastal dwellers who are in tune with the ocean know that waves come in patterns of three, with the last being the strongest. In Ireland, where the number 3 is known to be powerful, the 9th wave—the 3rd of 3—is believed to mark the boundary to a world of magic and once, according to legend, made Ireland invisible in order to be saved. In more recent times, the legend of 9 waves has become a 9-fold blessing for newborns. I’ve adapted it for our bride and groom.” As I read each blessing, the couple took turns making waves.
Zita was absolutely wonderful. I had so many guests come up to my husband and I afterwards and tell us that they had never been to a wedding like ours. It was so heartfelt and people got to hear our love story. Zita beautifully and eloquently spoke about how we met and included different wedding rituals that were important to us. Friends of ours that have been together for 37 years came up to me after the wedding and said Zita has made them consider getting married! She is such a sweet lady and is very professional. I would give her 1,000 stars if I could!
Angela and John
Wedding Site: The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Haddam, CT
Marni and Peter ~ Making a Small Ceremony Meaningful
With international travel on their itinerary and a baby on the way, Marni and Peter decided to have a small ceremony now and plan the big wedding in the future. Prior to the ceremony, I learned that Marni’s mom had passed away. I recognized her pain. My own mom died when I was young. In Marni’s eyes, I remembered the pain of not having my mom with me when I got married and gave birth to my daughter. I also knew that even though this was to be a simple ceremony to satisfy legalities, it would still mark the day when Marni and Peter married each other.
The initial plan was simple. Marni and Peter would join me at one end of the room. Nothing fancy. Before we were to gather, I noticed a gleaming baby grand piano at the other end of the room. I asked if anyone played. Peter’s father did and when I shared my thoughts with him, he jumped at the chance. Now that we had ceremony music, I asked Marni if she wanted to enter the space made sacred by family and friends by walking in with her dad. She did. As she prepared, I gave each guest a stone carved with a word of inspiration. At a special point in the ceremony, I passed around a small candy dish. Each person spoke about a personal connection with the word on the stone, then placed it in the dish. Though the ritual was simple, it gave every guest the opportunity to express love.
Zita officiated at our wedding. She far and away surpassed any expectations that we had. She guided us through the process and helped us to understand what it was that we wanted out of the ceremony. She executed it perfectly and it was incredible.
Marni and Peter
Wedding Site: Private residence, Fairfield, CT
Asya and Jeff ~ A Bouquet of Daisies
Asya came to this country from Russia when she was a young girl. She told me about the bouquet of daisies her father had given her mother on their first date. To honor that legacy of love, I created a ritual involving a vase of silk daisies. To accommodate the many Russian guests who didn’t speak English, I gave Asya’s father a copy of the ceremony several weeks earlier. He translated it and gave copies to the guests.
Our ceremony was everything we had wished for. Thank you to Zita!!! Zita wrote us an absolutely perfect ceremony filled with our love story and beautiful rituals. We received so many compliments on our ceremony and everyone was asking us how we found Zita! Not only is Zita incredibly professional and provides excellent services, she is also an incredibly kind, warm, and caring person. We feel so lucky to have had Zita officiate our wedding. She is absolutely wonderful and we would recommend her to anyone who wants a special, meaningful, and beautiful ceremony.
Asya and Jeff
Ceremony Site: Farmington Gardens, Farmington CT
Becky and Elaine ~ Garden Gifts
My work as a wedding officiant began when I said yes to Becky and Elaine. I had known Becky for a few years. One December, she called from the Midwest to say she and her partner were coming to Connecticut and wanted to get married. She asked if I would perform the ceremony. I said yes immediately.
In the months that followed, I met Elaine and got to know the two of them as a couple. Knowing their plans to build an herb garden, I created a ritual called “Garden Gifts.” Based on the mythology of herbs, I arranged for four special friends of the couple to present four special plants. Here’s an excerpt from the ritual:
I call for COMPASSION, the gift of Tarragon.
Long associated with the feminine, tarragon offers the magical blend of compassion with independence. This delicate herb teaches how to give of the self without losing the self. Please accept this symbol of compassion for your kitchen – and for hearty Irish potato soup.
Since then, I’ve done this ritual for several other couples. The choice of herbs always depends on what dishes the couple likes to prepare.
Zita made sure she got to know each of us in the months leading up to our wedding, and she even visited our wedding site before writing the ceremony. Out of numerous discussions my partner and I had with Zita about marriage, spirituality, and life came a beautiful ceremony that honored and incorporated each of our beliefs, felt fresh and personal, and made a diverse group of friends and family feel welcome and inspired. I could not have hoped for a more perfect wedding ceremony.
Rebecca and Elaine
Wedding Site: Connecticut College, New London, CT
Latitia and Eloyd ~ Love does conquer all
The night before their rehearsal, their dog died in Latitia’s arms while she, a nurse, administered CPR and Eloyd raced to the animal hospital. Tragic loss had colored Latitia’s life again. Her childhood had been anything but happy. Violence, crime, mental illness, and murder had shaped her youth. Eloyd’s childhood had been just the opposite. His parents were poor when they came to this country. Through hard work and determination, they changed their own lives and created a safe and secure environment for their children. Both Latitia and Eloyd wanted a ceremony that would give their guests a feeling of joy. So I infused the humor they both share into their love story. It worked.
Zita just brings out all the warm and fuzzy in you! The family and friends at our wedding told us they had never been to a wedding like ours. It was the farthest thing from boring, it was funny yet spiritual. It made you laugh and cry. I had one friend a guy in his early 20s say that the ceremony was his favorite part of the wedding, which means a lot because our reception was at the Society Room with excellent food, an open bar, and we had a really really good DJ!!!
Latitia and Eloyd
Ceremony Site: The Society Room, Hartford, CT
Jessie and Kurt
When Kurt received his orders, Jessie decided she didn’t want to wait until his ship returned to get married. She canceled the plans they’d made for a big, traditional wedding the following year, and met me at the courthouse for a simple ceremony. I grew up in the Navy and have always had a soft spot for our men and women who serve, and for the sacrifices their families make every day.
Jessie and Kurt
Wedding Site: Town Hall, New London, CT
Allison and Michele ~ Carved in Stone
Allison and Michele came to Connecticut from North Carolina where, at the time, marriage equality was not honored. For many reasons, words were important to this couple. I asked them for the names of 12 guests for whom they felt a deep love and friendship.
Before the ceremony began, I approached those 12 guests and had each one reach, sight unseen, into a black velvet pouch and draw a stone. On each stone was written a word that represented a desirable quality; e.g., gratitude, peace, patience, success. At a certain point in the ceremony, I invited the presentation of these special gifts.
Zita took our vision and created our perfect ceremony! The ceremony was extremely personal, incorporating rituals that were meaningful and permitted everyone to be not only witnesses, but true participants of our ceremony. Meeting Zita face-to-face for the first time, we felt as though we were meeting up with a trusted, valued friend. She was attentive and receptive to all of our suggestions. Zita delivered a truly genuine, heart-felt ceremony and we will be forever grateful for the gift of marriage that she gave to us!
Allison and Michele
Wedding Site: Mystic Art Center, Mystic, CT
Doug and Mikolaj ~ International Elegance
Zita’s very presence, energy, spirit and love made the evening and the ceremony nothing short of perfection!…Zita was incredible throughout the entire process from the first time we spoke to her right up to the special ceremony she created for us.
Because we’re from two different cultures, Zita carefully researched customs and traditions and incorporated them. As there were guests from all around the world who spoke different languages, she very easily conveyed to them what was happening so they were a part of the very special day.
Douglas and Mikolaj of Palm Beach, FL
Wedding Site: Ritz Carlton, Battery Park, NYC
Laurie and Alan ~ Gift from the Trees
Alan had a house on the edge of a forest in Connecticut. The first time Laurie came to his home, he worried that she would find the location too remote, too natural. What he didn’t know was that Laurie had grown up in the forest in Maine and longed to be back in the woods she always found so peaceful.
For their ceremony, I created a ritual called “Gifts from the Trees.” Thanks to the owners of a local tree service company, I had wafers of various kinds of wood. I drew on the mythology of trees to create 7 blessings for the couple, each represented by a particular type of wood, each presented by one of the guests, then arranged in a circle next to the couple. Here’s an excerpt from the ritual:
In mythology, trees are known as “the listeners.” In fairy tales, the hero is always transformed once he or she enters the forest…because the trees listen and offer us what we need. From the trees in that magical realm, come very special gifts tonight.
I call for STRENGTH – gift of the LOCUST
Among the strongest, toughest trees on Earth, it can withstand heat and pollution. While the crooked growth of the locust makes it unsuitable for lumber, shipbuilders of old used nails made of locust … because on contact with water the nails would swell and become hard as iron. Locust represents strength and the will to live. And its fragrant flowers draw honeybees.
I call for LONGEVITY – gift of the MIGHTY OAK
Strong, enduring, generous with its acorns, the oak represents prosperity, strength, and longevity. The last to shed its leaves in the fall, the oak endures. Struck by lightning, the oak often survives. Centuries ago, and yesterday, people whispered, “Faerie folks are in Old Oaks.” Carry an acorn and know you are part of a legacy.
From our first meeting with her, which brought tears to my eyes as she discussed potential ceremony ideas, to the lovely pictures she posted on Facebook a couple of days after our wedding, Zita has been incredible. Our ceremony was unique, heartful, intimate, funny, and an absolute pleasure for us and our guests. We received so many compliments on the ceremony as well as Zita's delivery of it…. She is an absolute professional, calm and organized, and completely dedicated to every one of her couples. My dad was so impressed with the ceremony that he wrote us a long letter after the wedding. He described Zita in this way: “She did a fantastic job of using words to create a full understanding of who you both were (and are) and how your relationship developed, blossomed, and flourished. Her way of speaking, tone of voice, inflections, etc. gave her words ‘pictures, colors, and atmosphere,' so that at times we felt like we were watching a movie of your relationship – a very good movie!”
Laurie and Alan
Wedding Site: The Golden Lamb Buttery, Brooklyn CT
Katie and Ben ~ Sealed with a Kiss ~ Love Letters in a Box
Katie and Ben appreciated having plans for their future. With that in mind, I suggested a ritual that would plant the seed for how they might celebrate their first anniversary.
My fiancé and I originally had planned on having a friend officiate the ceremony because neither of us have an affiliation with a specific church or religion and we thought it would be uncomfortable to have a stranger marry us. However, after realizing that we had no clue what we were doing, we decided to seek out professional help. Through a chain of referrals (and a bit of luck/fate!) we ended up finding Zita. From the moment we met her, she made us feel completely at ease. She took the time to get to know us as a couple and as individuals so that she could make the ceremony about US and not just spitting out generic wedding lines. We wanted to have a spiritual (as opposed to religious) ceremony but were not sure of what to do to give it that feel. She enlightened us to endless possibilities for different rituals that we could choose from. We ended up deciding to write each other love letters that we sealed during the ceremony with a candle and wax and placed in a box with a bottle of wine for us to enjoy on our anniversary. We also “tied the knot” which the guests loved!
I cannot tell you how many guests came up to my husband and me to tell us that our ceremony was the best one that they have ever been to. Working with Zita to draft the ceremony together was also great! She was very responsive and was able to work around our schedule for in person meetings (which was SO helpful since we live in VA but got married in CT).
Katie and Ben
Wedding Site: Lord Thompson Manor, Thompson, CT
Jessie and Chris
Can't speak highly enough of Zita. The PERFECT officiant. Warm, charming, sincere, eloquent, professional, responsive, and definitely goes the extra mile. She hand-made our handfasting cord, and it was amazing.
She did a thorough investigation of who we are and tailored our ceremony exactly the way we wanted. She went through every word, ritual, and step of the ceremony with us, accepted our feedback and incorporated it with enthusiasm. She gave lots of little extras that meant a lot.
The ceremony was something I just thought we had to get through until the partying, but Zita made it very special and romantic. Outstanding!
Jessie and Chris
Wedding Site: Waveny House, New Canaan, CT /
Ei-Ling and Jason ~ Intercultural ~ Polish Dark Bread & Chinese Legend of the Red Cord
For this intercultural wedding, I wove together wedding traditions from Poland and from China and incorporated them into a blessing given to the couple by their mothers. The groom’s mother gave them rich, dark bread, a symbol for health and prosperity.The bride’s mother gave them wine, a symbol for fertility and celebration.Before giving the glasses to the couple, the bride’s mother tied a red satin cord around the stems of the two glasses. Becaue the bride’s mother spoke little English, I explained the reason for the cord. Here’s an excerpt from the ritual:
Does destiny play a role in love? Who can say. There is a Chinese legend that the fatherly God-In-The-Moonlight ties a red string around the ankles of the unborn couple who are supposed to be together someday. As time passes, the cord shrinks, ensuring that no matter how far apart the two are at the beginning of their lives, they will eventually find each other.
My husband and I originally wanted a family member to wed us in the fear that it will not be as personalized if we had someone else to officiate our wedding. But after meeting Zita and working with her, we felt comfortable and she did an AMAZING job at our wedding. Zita was so great to work with in the sense that she really listened to what we wanted for our ceremony and customized the most amazing ceremony for us! It was so spectacular that people can't stop talking about it after the wedding and we received so many compliments. Truly a FAB experience – THANKS SO MUCH Zita!!!
Ei-ling and Jason of New York City
Wedding Site: Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington, CT
Laura and Colin ~ Gatsby Themed Wedding
Zita was great to work with! She made our ceremony personal and we have had so many people saying what a great ceremony it was… sweet, romantic, funny, unique… and not just close family, but the friends who usually would fall asleep during the ceremony as well! From people who didn't know us too well, to our parents and closest friends – everyone felt like they knew us by the end of the service. Most importantly, she made us feel special, and it was definitely “OUR” wedding, and not just something generic.
Laura and Colin
Wedding Site: Farmington Gardens, Farmington CT
Siusi and Mike ~ A Handfasting to Tie the Knot
The day I met Siusi and Mike I also met Siusi’s mom, Fiona. Well into the conversation, she shared with me the disappointment she’d been carrying from her own wedding of years ago. Church rules had prevented her from having the ceremony she wanted so she and her beau had no choice but to go to a justice of the peace. Now that her daughter was being married, Fiona was determined that Siusi have a real ceremony, something beautiful, something meaningful, something she’d want to remember not forget.
At Fiona’s suggestion, and with Siusi’s and Mike’s permission, I created a ritual in which each member of the wedding party made a wish for the couple.
To keep the content of each wish a surprise, Fiona coordinated the wishes. Siusi and Mike also included a handfasting to honor her Irish heritage. I made their cord in the cornflower blue and yellow she’d chosen for her wedding colors. The result was beautiful, meaningful ceremony, one we’d all remember.
Zita was amazing! Our wedding ceremony was so personal, intimate and beautifully constructed- our family and friends were able to participate, making it a very interactive ceremony. It was such a beautiful love story that Zita wrote, allowing everyone to share exactly how we felt towards one another. Zita had some lovely ideas that were unique and unlike anything I had seen before. I would recommend Zita to anyone, of any religious background, especially for those who are looking to have such a personal, fun, intimate ceremony. Zita was very prepared and so easy to work with. She included all of our ideas into the ceremony and showed us the layout multiple times before the special day, so that we could edit and change anything we would like- although it was so wonderfully done, we had no changes! Zita is fabulous! 🙂
Siusi and Mike
Wedding Site: The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Haddam, CT
Allison and Kevin ~ Sand Ceremony for a Golfer
Allison and Kevin included a sand ceremony in their wedding. When I learned that Kevin is a golf pro, I incorporated a little sand trap language into the ritual.
We cannot express the happiness you have brought us. You helped us create a beautiful ceremony that we will always remember.
Allison and Kevin
Ceremony Site: The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Haddam, CT
Christen and Chris ~ Their fur families brought them together
Both Christen and Chris had grown up with single moms. Both lived in households with grandparents. Both learned the power of love to shape and save a life. As an adult, Christen saw the efforts Chris made to rescue dogs, not one but many. That’s when she knew he was the man for her. Their cake topper honored their passion and the memory of several fur family members.
People laughed, cried and most of all, enjoyed the ceremony! I will never forget how truly remarkable a moment Zita helped make our wedding be. …In one attendant’s words “That was the most religious, nonreligious wedding I've ever seen.” That’s because Zita was able to invoke such an intense feeling of love a spirituality without ever mentioning a God. Of course Zita has no problem bringing in religion, the point is she is a master at her craft and I was privileged to have her!
Christen and Chris
Ceremony Site: Bill Miller’s Castle, Branford, CT
Elizabeth and Jorge ~ The woman with roots and the man with wings
Elizabeth grew up in a small New England town where working class, sports-loving family had lived for generations. She longed for adventure. Jorge grew up in a walled compound with armed guards. He was the son of a South American diplomat. His family lived in a country where drugs, violence, kidnappings, and executions were the norm. He remembered the day his mother tried to shield his eyes from the bullet-ridden body in the street. In his teens, Jorge ran away. He spent months backpacking across Europe, working at odd jobs. He longed for a stable life. With their permission and approval, I incorporated those details into their love story.
Take the time to meet with Zita and share your story. This is why…my husband and I had the honor of having Zita officiate our wedding ceremony. Our story, prepared by Zita, was the highlight of the evening. Yes…dinner and dancing with family and friends was fun, but the ceremony was magnificent. Not only is Zita an excellent writer…she is a superb storyteller as well. Through Zita’s words, Jorge and I relived our first date, our upbringing, and the struggles one faces in life. She made our ceremony intimate, heartwarming, at times funny, and deeply touching. She captured us so clearly that it took my breath away.
Elizabeth and Jorge
Ceremony Site: The Lord Jeffrey Inn, Amherst, MA
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Thank you for considering my services
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Contact: Zita Christian / zita@MoonRiverRituals.com / Cell: 860-402-4231