What comes to mind when you think “wedding”? If you come from the West, you probably see images of women in giant, embroidered white dresses, men in sober black tuxedoes, and matching bridesmaids and groomsmen. A boy will bear the rings, a girl will toss the flower petals, and bride and groom will recite traditional wedding vows. The bride and groom will share the same religion, they will have the same skin color, and the ceremony, which will be conducted by a male priest or minister, will be held inside a Christian church. And the wedding couple must consist of a bride and groom, not a bride and bride, or a groom and groom. In deference to her new male ruler, the woman, smiling stupidly, will take her husband’s name after promising to serve and obey him.
We can even imagine the man guiding his new wife’s hand as she cuts the first slice of the wedding cake (because heaven knows women have poor fine motor skills).
This is all fine and dandy if this is what a person really wants, but it is not always what a person really wants. How can the modern wedding ceremony be accommodated? One Universal Life Church Monastery minister, Reverend Judith O’Connor, has worked hard to update the traditional wedding ceremony to make it more relevant to today’s families, and to reflect the needs of a changing society. O’Connor, a clinical hypnotherapist and certified professional coach, focuses on nondenominational, or, in her words, “all-denominational”, weddings that reflect a diversity of cultures, faiths, and world religions, of which the traditional Western wedding is but one.
Like many ULCM ministers, O’Connor officiates wedding ceremonies for people who do not quite fit into the box, as it were. Many churches refuse to recognize unions between people from different faith groups and world religions, but O’Connor happily solemnizes interfaith weddings, integrating both religions into the ceremony. Couples also have control over what style of ceremony they will have, whether religious, non-denominational, or simply spiritual. “[T]hey are in charge”, she said, explaining that her role as a minister ordained online is more that of a facilitator who realizes the desires of the wedding couple. There are virtually no boundaries as to whom she will marry—whether interracial, gay, international, or interfaith, O’Connor focuses on the love story behind each couple’s union and uses it to personalize the ceremony.
She has even performed ceremonies with pets present.
O’Connor epitomizes the open, welcoming nature of ULC ministers, for most of whom love is the chief principle underpinning the sacrament of marriage. As a legal wedding officiant in the Universal Life Church Monastery, what kind of experiences have you had performing weddings? Have you performed interfaith, interracial, or same-sex weddings? What is your most unusual experience? Feel free to join the ULCM social network for ministers and share your stories with other wedding ministers. You may also find answers to some common questions about how to perform a wedding ceremony as a minister ordained online.
Interested couples can find out more about O’Connor’s unique and personalized services by visiting her Web site at http://www.judithoconnor.com or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.