Monday, February 20, 2012

Religious or Secular Ceremony?

Cori and I spent our long weekend revising our ceremonial draft, which was sent to us by our chosen officiant. There are many significant decisions that need to be made when planning a wedding. Couples need to decide on a venue, a caterer, color schemes, center pieces, wedding attire, and the list goes on and on. Choosing someone to marry us was one of the biggest decisions we had to make thus far, and not just because we are two girls getting married, but because we don’t want to have a religious ceremony or an common ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace. We knew choosing the right officiant was crucial because he or she will have a colossal influence on the tone of our ceremony.
Who will marry us?

I was raised Catholic as decided by my mother. Catholicism, however, was not my only exposure. My father is a non-practicing Protestant and I have a Jewish Godfather. I even have extended family members who practice Paganism. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew Catholicism wasn’t my spiritual destiny. I remember asking my church questions about reincarnation and being told that those thoughts were considered sinful. When I finally turned 13 years old, my mother and I made the deal that as long as I completed my conformation, a Catholic sacrament, then I can explore my own beliefs and spirituality. During my exploration, I discovered that organized religion was something that I did not want in my life. I began to focus more on spirituality and felt a strong connection to the Pagan traditions. 
Cori, on the other hand, was only exposed to Catholicism as a child. She recalls being taught Catholic traditions by her strict Catholic grandmother and completing her sacraments. Cori began to question her beliefs upon entering middle school when she began making friends in different religious backgrounds, including Paganism, Jehovah Witness and Atheist. As Cori grew older, she lost interest in organized religion and embarked on her own spiritual journey. She does not currently practice anything specific, but she does have a strong sense of spirituality. Since being together, Cori took a genuine interest in Paganism, but she does not fully practice the tradition on her own.
After much discussion, Cori and I decided to search for a humanistic minister. We found, thanks to my lovely Cousin, Ms. Marie April Gismondi who specializes in couple centered wedding ceremonies, which means she will include all the aspects of a traditional ceremony that are important and leave out the things that are not as important. She will perform any kind of ceremony, depending on the needs of the couple, and she is also able to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. Cori and I learned that when booking vendors, it is crucial to find a photographer and officiant who have experience working with same-sex couples. This is to help avoid awkward posing for pictures and awkward wording during the ceremony.

During our initial meeting with April, Cori and I were asked about our pronouncement preference.  This is a big decision for gay and lesbian couples.  How should the officiant declare a couple at the conclusion of the ceremony? This choice is a blessing more than anything because we are able to have a legal pronouncement due to the mere fact that New York recognizes marriage equality. We were provided with a few ideas:

I now pronounce you...

  •     legally married
  •     lawfully married
  •     partners for life
  •     married partners
  •     husbands/wives to one another
Language is a funny thing. While Cori and I were dating, we always referred to each other as “girlfriend” or cute little pet names (i.e. penguin or soulie, which is short for soulmate). We never liked the idea of referring to each other as “partners” because it didn’t seem intimate enough for us. With that being said, we figured that once we were married, I would be her wife and she will be mine. Right before we share our first kiss as a married couple, April will pronounce us as wife and wife. We have nothing against the other choices; it’s just a matter of personal preference.
Cori and I chose to have a non-religious ceremony, but there will be a couple Pagan undertones. First, we opted to conclude our ceremony with a traditional hand-fasting, which is a symbolic binding of the hands. Throughout history, in various different parts of the world, the hands of the bride and groom were bound as a sign of their commitment to one another. The cords, which are used to bind the hands, serve as a reminder that all things of the material eventually return to the earth, unlike the bond and the connection that is love, which is eternal and destined to ascend to the heavens. Secondly, Cori and I will have a beautiful, hand-crafted broom placed at the top of the aisle and ask our gusts to tie a ribbon on the handle. As our loved ones tie a ribbon, they are to bestow upon us their best wishes and blessings.


Corrine and I are planning to keep some wedding traditions, such personal vows, which we are writing ourselves, and ring vows. We also decided to say our “we dos (our promises to each other) and they are typically preformed directly after the processional. The “we dos” are beautifully honest and really capture the true essence of marriage. The "we dos" will go as follows:

Do you pledge to one another your openness and honesty, that the love for one another shall be in the foreground of your thoughts always, guiding your actions, and that you shall leave no parts of self unknowable to one another?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Do you pledge to continue to love one another wholly and fearlessly, that you will share each other’s laughter and work together to spark creativity and inspire passion in all aspects of your life together?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Do you pledge that you will always be there to comfort, soothe, and heal one another, and that you will stand together when the future is unclear, proving that times may change but your love is constant?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

 Do you pledge that your home will always be a place of warmth and welcome, a safe haven and sanctuary to body, mind, and spirit that shall sustain and nourish your roots as you grow into all that is and shall be your life together?

    Stephanie and Corrine: We do.

Another creative twist to our ceremony will be the section where April briefly speaks about the love that Cori and I share. Here is a little excerpt:

    ...They have come a long way since those early days and attribute the success of their relationship to the openness and honesty of their communication, to their desire to always go to one another first with all the large and small happenings and decisions that the day brings, and to their ability to compliment and balance one another. Where Corrine is logical and reasonable, Stephanie has a more whimsical nature. This allows them to dream and to plan, to go and do, and achieve more than either would alone...

We are utterly grateful to have found an officiant who is not only knowledgeable in same-sex marriages, but who also caters to our spiritual values. As an added bonus, she is able to create a customized ceremony that showcases who we are as a couple, allowing our friends and relatives to fully witness, in its entirety, the love that Corrine and I encompass for one another.

Future Wife and Wife

Visit our officiant's site:


  1. Your wedding sounds like it will be amazing. I hope that when the day comes that it will be everything you hoped it would be. :) This is the second blog I follow where the couple are lesbians (I'm straight and totally support gay marriage rights) and I think it's awesome that you two aren't afraid to share with the world your love for one another.

    1. Thanks for reading and thank you for your support! It's always GR8 to see STR8 against H8 =) We enjoy reading your blog as well!

  2. Your wedding is going to be soooooo beautiful.....
    The plans for your ceremony sound perfect....mi,
    Ole 'wife and wife' too.... Xo

    1. Thank you! Wife and Wife definitely has a better ring to it! =)

  3. Aw it all sounds so perfect! <3 Definitely agree with wife & wife!

    Added your button to our blog btw :)

    M x

  4. It's amazing that you have a choice of officiant, of religious / spiritual backgrounds and of words that can be used. The words you have selected are incredibly beautiful and well written. It's going to be a very emotional day! Completely agree with using wife and wife, like you say, 'partner' just doesn't conjur the same image of closeness and intimacy, depth of love, or sense of foreverness, but wife sums all this up and much more.

    In the UK we don't have a choice of officiant, it will be a Registrar from the Register Office in the area in which we marry, and will be declared civil partners :( although we will use wife in all other aspects of the day and in life lol. we might be able to get round it by being declared something along the lines of 'partners in love, life and law', which sounds slightly better!

    Love this post, made me a bit emotional, I'm rubbish with a good love story!
    L xxxx

    1. Thank you! xo

      We are very happy and humbly grateful to live in a state where we are given choices for our ceremony. It's amazing how much impact words can hold. Hopefully, you girls could use something along the lines of "partners in love, life and law"... keeping our fingers crossed! It sounds silly, but when you don't have those basic human rights, then it becomes a real issue that goes beyond simple wording.

      We love reading about your wedding adventures as well! It's always interesting to hear what happens "across the pond." =)

  5. I completely agree with the above comment about how unprogressive the UK currently is in regards to recognising same sex relationships (in love and law)! As my girl and I live in Scotland we're hoping the government up here will recognise same sex marriage rather than just civil partnerships soon - as then the rest of the UK will follow suit! Love seeing all you girls plan your weddings though - it makes me more and more excited to (one day) get engaged myself!

    Carley xx

    1. There are still many states in the US (i.e. Mississippi) that are still unprogressive, which still amazes us. Hopefully the UK, the rest of the US, and other countries recognize marriage equality!

      Also.. loving your blog, especially the title! xo

  6. Wow, we love the 'we do's'!!!

    We've awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award! Yay!!

    Check it out:

    Laura & Sarah xo

    1. Thank you and THANK YOU! =)

      So exciting and congrats on your award as well! xox