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My Wedding Day: Creating a Container of Love, Peace & Healing

Many people know about traditional church weddings, what led you to do something different for your wedding and why did you choose Rev. Annika as your lead officiant?

There are several reasons, the biggest being that Sam and I both grew up in chaotic homes where different religious practices were thrown at us from time to time. Religions and all that they preach felt stifling to us both. We both had strong feelings about not wanting to go the traditional route of a church wedding. Getting married in a church of any particular denomination was not going to work for us.

The second thing which was the real catalyst to us deciding to have our wedding customized with our own spiritual beliefs was we attended another couple’s wedding ceremony that emphasized their Buddhist practices.  I had never been to a Buddhist wedding before, but I got the sense it was a traditional Buddhist ceremony even though it was in a Unitarian Universalist church. The couple wrote their own vows. It was a very spiritual wedding. You could tell that this couple really loved each other. They were there because they wanted to pledge their love to each other. There was not a dry eye in the audience. It was a very moving experience for me. It was a non-traditional wedding compared to other weddings that Sam and I had been to. That’s when I started thinking that it would be great to have a wedding that we both felt strongly about, not a wedding where we would be going through all the motions with expected rituals that are families would want us to have.

I wanted Rev. Annika to officiate my wedding because as a friend, I knew she authentically walks her spiritual path.  I really made the decision to hire Rev. Annika when I saw part of a video of another wedding she officiated. She came across with a very powerful presence when conducting the wedding, yet with eloquence in the way she delivered all the blessings, rituals and ceremonies.

What kind of time and effort did it take to customize your wedding ceremony?

Things came together really well. Rev. Annika and I corresponded mostly through e-mails. She took care of many of the details of putting the ceremony together which I really appreciated. I needed guidance because I didn’t have a concrete idea of what I wanted for a wedding ceremony. I knew what I didn’t want. Rev. Annika helped us figure that out. She sent us via e-mails:  first an overview of what is contained in most ceremonies; then once we got an idea of the basic format we wanted to follow, she sent me different ideas for parts of the ceremony that we wanted customized. All these suggestions got my creative thinking flowing. The total time with correspondences through e-mails, phone calls and our one day long meeting, since Sam and I were 5 hours away in Maine was about 15 – 20 hours in creating the whole ceremony including the writing of our vows. I also spent additional time meditating on the whole wedding since that is one of my spiritual practices. It was not as time consuming as I originally thought it was going to take.  I was so glad with what we came up with, in the time that we had, since there were so many details to having an outdoor wedding and reception.

Where there any parts of the ceremony that you were really happy with how they turned out?

I was really happy with the whole ceremony. I really liked the fact that Rev. Annika blessed our wedding spot and connected with the nature spirits who care take the land before the ceremony. I really appreciated her holding a peaceful space on the day of the wedding.  That was really great for me since we had a lot of family drama. I know most people do at weddings, but we had a lot of extra family drama – family members who didn’t even want to come to the wedding. There was a lot of anger and upset between people who were planning to attend our wedding. It was nice for me to know that Rev. Annika was connecting with the peace of the space. I felt that calming presence and really appreciated it.

I also recently found out that besides Rev. Annika working with the nature spirits, and our offering to the land the night before the wedding, Rev.Ferrannini and another minister were praying for good weather for our special day. Even though there was rain in most of Maine throughout day, our wedding and reception weather was beautiful. That was really awesome!

Rev. Annika and Rev. Ferrannini helped you create a unique unity symbol for your ceremony. How did that come about?

We wanted to include a symbolic ritual that would express our union. Traditionally we knew many couple do a unity candle ceremony, but being outdoors we didn’t want the candles to go out. Rev. Annika and Rev. Ferrannini made it so easy. Sam and I love water and all that it symbolizes, so when they suggested we find our own unique vessels to pour water into a bowl to represent the container for our union, we said yes. They then took care of details that we wouldn’t have even thought of such as an appropriate table for this ritual and making sure all was set-up safely before the start of the wedding.  I didn’t have to worry about these logistics which took off stress from me. This was a real gift. The ritual was a beautiful part of our overall ceremony.

What were some other ways were you supported by Rev. Annika?

The support came across during the entire time that we worked together, but there are a couple of significant moments that I recall. Rev. Annika is very intuitive and even though we are friends, she didn’t really know Sam. Yet, she hit on some very important points with him as to what he wanted in the ceremony in our first meeting. I had no idea that he had Native American leanings in his beliefs. I was marrying him and I never heard that before. It was really good that Rev. Annika got us to the point where we both felt comfortable to open up about our personal beliefs.

Rev. Annika’s guiding principles also helped me to be true to myself for instance, when I wrote my vows. I was terrified. I kept putting off writing my vows. I get very nervous speaking in public. I was afraid to write my vows the way I really wanted to. I thought I would be ridiculed. There was initially a lot of tension going into the wedding as I mentioned earlier. There were some people who I knew would be at the wedding that I didn’t feel comfortable being around or want to be vulnerable in their presence. Yet, there I was saying my heartfelt vows to Sam in front of a hundred or more people. While I was standing there with Sam along with Rev. Annika and Rev. Ferrannini, I really felt supported. I was fine as I said what I really felt in my heart, though I was crying my eyes out and so was Sam.  I was able to forget about those weird hang-ups about who heard what and what I might be perceived as. I was able to speak from my heart totally. Mostly because of the healing space that was created prior to and during the ceremony. Knowing Rev. Annika, I knew I would feel this peace.  I also know Sam felt very comfortable being himself with both Rev. Annika and Rev.Ferrannini officiating our ceremony as well. Saying our vows turned out to be the most memorable part of our ceremony.

Rev. Annika was also helpful to me right before the wedding and at the rehearsal. Just before the rehearsal, I was on the edge of losing it. I was having a problem with some family members.  When Rev. Annika arrived, she talked with me calmly and put the drama in perspective. I looked to her to be the spiritual leader, my lightening rod and go-between.

Having had the opportunity to have both a male and female co-minister your wedding, do you feel this added any benefits to the ceremony?

Yes, having both male and female energies present felt good. I am very much about equality for all people.  I’ve been to weddings where having just the male officiant felt patriarchal and I guess just having a female officiant could be seen at as going against some grain too. It just felt so natural to have both. It was a nice balance having a male and female supporting the joining of bride and groom. We also liked how Rev. Annika and Rev.Ferrannini both divided the speaking parts of the ceremony and we especially liked when they made the pronouncement together.

Were there any special outcomes or unexpected outcomes from the ceremony?

Probably the most unexpected outcome came from the healing intentions of our ceremony and the feedback we got from our family members after the wedding – for weeks after the wedding. People came to me in tears, thanking me and Sam because they had never been to such a healing, peaceful, calming, loving ceremony, ever. I was amazed to learn how this ceremony really created such healing on both sides of the family. I couldn’t believe how many of people had similar feedback. Some of them were the very people I had suspected would let their anger fly, if triggered by another guest they didn’t want to be around. These were the people who had reservations about coming to our wedding.

There was a lot of healing that took place. There was a father and daughter who hadn’t spoken in a year. They sat next to each other in the reception which we didn’t think would happen. They were hugging, crying, talking. There was a healing between an ex-wife and a husband. There was healing all over the place. Most of our guests were thanking us because Rev. Annika and Rev. Ferrannini were holding this peaceful loving space for all of us. As Rev. Annika would say, we all co-created these wonderful outcomes since Sam and I set an intention at our first meeting about the wedding that the love shared at our wedding would be healing.

This all sound amazing. Did any of your guests feel this ceremony was too different?

Most of the guests at our wedding were not spiritual people.  They did not have a regular spiritual practice or  attend church regularly. Yet, many came back to us with “This was the most moving touching ceremony that I¹ve ever attended.” “I could feel the love.” “I could feel the healing.” Yet, these comments came from people who have scientific backgrounds and are in the medical professions. I would have to say they weren’t the ones, I expected to be open to the deeper mysteries of life.

Because of Rev. Annika’s diverse background, she conducts herself professionally in public settings. She taps into Spirit (the sacred) and filters it to make it palatable for people who are not attuned to such things. On the surface, our ceremony had a lot of the elements of a traditional ceremony, but there was a depth to it that affected people on a higher level of consciousness.  Rev. Annika is very good at presenting and speaking in public, and she uses her spiritual power and prowess, almost from behind the scenes.

Any last comments…

In all honesty, our wedding was far more than I had hoped for.  Four family rifts were transformed… when Sam and I were expecting fist fights.  Our wedding turned out to be the most peaceful of days! It was so very meaningful to us. We relaxed and had a great time. Everything else leading up to our wedding day had been stressful. My bridal shower, the bachelorette party, and especially planning the reception were challenging. To our surprise, creating our ceremony was easy and we were overjoyed with the results. Our wedding ceremony was professionally executed, eloquently spoken, heartfelt in many ways and deeply honoring of our spiritual beliefs.

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