I have been a part of three weddings thus far in my life: back-up emergency bridesmaid for backyard wedding, first draft pick bridesmaid for destination wedding, and second draft pick for poetic reading locally. Each wedding totally different. Most people think of this inclusion as a must-have experience, or something that defines friendships and familial ties. I’m not that way.
For me, everything that happens as part of a wedding is directly aligned to who is getting married and what is authentic to them. When you are asked to participate (even if only as a +1), your job is to support whatever the bride and groom wish. It’s similar to the law of improv: say YES!
My own wedding was pretty non-traditional and involved a private ceremony with my husband, photographer, and videographer in Central Park, New York. (Shout-out to Claire of Wed in Central Park, who put together our Belvedere Castle ceremony!) It, too, was unlike any wedding I’d been to. Anyway, recently one of my old students from my first-year of teaching was posting on Instagram about her engagement, and I thought to myself how nice it would be to be a part of that ceremony…and how nice and humbling it is to be a part of any ceremony, whether as an active member or an audience member. Weddings, when they really represent the couple, are surreal and magical.
We tend to think of weddings as a great sacrifice of ourselves because of the costs, time, and energy they usually involve. But Brené Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, informed me in her book Daring Greatly that the origins of that word in its original Latin form means to make sacred or to make holy. To give of oneself, to sacrifice, is to make something else sacred. That was the feeling I was experiencing, the yearning to help and the hope that my former student’s marriage ceremony would be sacred.
Connecting the dots in reflection, I realized I would love to be a part of that for more people. Not that it’s something I need, but I would love to be available should the overlap ever exist. I know how much I appreciated my own officiant (even though I met her the day of the ceremony), and I know how precious that role is for others. After some research and networking, I decided on the theological doctrine of the American Marriage Ministries. They are incredibly inclusive and also make periodic donations to various organizations per the votes of their ordained ministers. Their FAQ page explains a lot.
The AMM Tenets
All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
All people have the right to solemnize marriage.
I was surprised how easy it was. Once I read all the pertinent information and answered my questions, the actual act of ordainment took from 10:41pm-10:49pm with no fee. So, I’m an ordained minister now, which means I can conduct Wedding, Vow Renewal, and Funeral ceremonies. You can view my full profile here.
I don’t know if I will ever actually conduct a ceremony. I may never again know someone getting married who desires my contribution. And that’s okay. For me, this was about establishing a sense of spiritual openness and connection with others. This act makes me feel more wholehearted and closer to embodying my sense of self. Wishing you and your unions well today!