Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When Family Participation is Really Special!

On October 10, 2015 the late afternoon weather was perfect at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison, Virginia for the wedding of Emily James and Johannes Harkema. There were a lot of Europeans at this gathering. The Harkema family flew in from the Netherlands.

Family and friends are often asked to participate in a ceremony. Sometimes a talented friend or sibling will be asked to sing. Sometimes a family will have multiple musicians, and form a band for this one-time special occasion. Most certainly, readers will be found to give diversity to the ceremony.

On this day among the participants was Poet David L. James, Professor of English from the Orchard Ridge Campus, Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Dr. James is Emily's uncle. He wrote and delivered a special poem entitled "Our Hope."

With the permission of Professor James, and for the first time in print for public enjoyment, please find the very personal words written for Emily James on the occasion of her marriage to Johannes Harkema.

OUR HOPE    for Emily and J.J., Oct. 10, 2015

it's easy to see
the love in your eyes, in your faces.
we can even feel
the love in your hearts, beating
just under the skin.
but it's the love six, ten, seventeen,
twenty-nine years from this very day-
like a well-worn pair of shoes,
like your favorite ripped ball cap,
like that shirt you will never throw out,
thin and frayed, stained down the front,
it's that kind of love
we hope for.
love that won't let go in any storm,
that sits up with you late at night
when you're sick,
a love that forgives and understands
and steers you back when you lose your bearings
and drift away.
it's a love that plants itself
in your heart
and branches through the blood stream,
like ivy wrapping around the ribs
and hip bone, down the arms and legs
until you can't imagine a world
without each other,
without his hand around your waist,
without her laughter in your ears,
that's the love we want for you,
a love that lifts you
into the sky like it's normal,
like it happens all the time,
and when you look ahead, all you can ever see
is the future smiling in the distance,
waving for you
to follow. 
David James 

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Marriage License ... A Couple's Responsibility

Even though my e-mail attachments to inquiries fully explain how we work and make many helpful suggestions, sometimes over the course of every year, someone will not read these critical items for accomplishment. One item which is sometimes skipped over, and wrongfully ASSUMED, is that the minister will obtain a marriage license for the couple. As most will recognize, this is not a logical assumption. The marriage license must be purchased by the couple and presented to the minister or officiant at the ceremony.

The Rules and Fees are different in each state

Virginia is our prime area for performing weddings, although we do travel into adjacent states.
We are still asked to come to parts of West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Most North Carolina requests are simply too far for travel. Also there will be extra costs for the minister's lodging. There are Interfaith Ministers in many major metro areas of that state. However, each state and the District of Columbia have an easily accessed Clerk of the Court with a Marriage Bureau. I mention these areas specifically, for I am registered and approved for performing legal weddings in these states and in DC, as well as many other locations.

Allow me to speak about Virginia in general, then call a local Clerk for the details

In every county in Virginia is a Clerk of the Court. In the Clerk's Office is a Marriage Bureau, or similar name. Each office can be accessed by phone or on-line website. Information is fully spelled out on these websites, but if anything is not absolutely clear, pick up that phone and call and take notes. If needed, the couple can visit the Clerk's Office for clarification.

Most licenses are about $30-$35, but can be higher. The license is good for a period of sixty (60) days, which means that you do not want to make a purchase until you have a solid date for the actual ceremony. You do not want the license to expire before a legal wedding can be performed. If it does, you will have to purchase another license. My suggestion is to purchase the license from 7-14 days before the ceremony.

In Virginia the license is provided to the minister or officiant by the couple, on or just before the wedding date. The minister will retain the license, complete and sign it (no witnesses are required), and mail it directly to the Clerk within days of the wedding. The couple is given information by the Clerk's Office at the time of purchase regarding cost for original copies (only a few dollars per copy) and where to send a request for copies. The couple needs to keep this information for any future need for copies of the marriage license.

In Virginia a couple can purchase the marriage license at any Clerk's office and use it immediately at any location within the state. A license is only good in the state where it is obtained.  There are waiting periods and other restrictions in other states, but once you have the license in Virginia, you are not restricted for immediate pursuit of being wed. The state of Maryland has some restrictions such as a waiting period of 48 hours from purchase until hosting a ceremony, and the license in Maryland is only good within the county where the license was purchased.  This makes Virginia less problematic for late purchases, but a couple's planning should not be allowed to wait until the last week day before a ceremony. Don't be surprised when a government office is closed for a holiday. If you do wait, problems can arise, and a legal wedding may be delayed. Just sharing.

A Final Note of Importance ... I do not marry couples inside courthouses

A couple may think that ministers will marry them in a courthouse or the Clerk's Office. I do not perform weddings in courthouses. On the marriage license form is a block which I must mark as a "religious" ceremony, and religious ceremonies are not performed in courthouses. I do perform "non-religious" ceremonies, but that is not the same as a "civil" ceremony performed inside a courthouse setting.  Many Clerk's offices do not have arrangements for marrying a couple in their facility, while others may be able to schedule a couple for an Officer of the Court to perform a short civil ceremony.  Use your time wisely to get the details needed for planning.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Most Pleasant Place for a Most Intimate Wedding

Over the last ten years we have been asked if we perform "elopement" size weddings. What that generally means is just a couple alone or perhaps a few friends or family members (usually six or less) accompanying the couple. So - YES ... we do perform very small weddings at homes or farms, and under large shade trees at one favorite public location mostly on week days away from the crowded venues geared to weekend events. The location is Pleasant Grove Park, located along Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53) just 12 miles from Mr. Jefferson's home of Monticello, between Charlottesville and Palmyra, Virginia.


A Magnificent change has taken place over the last few years at Pleasant Grove


The large 800 acre park now has something for everyone, but one dynamic transformation has been the renovation of the 1854 William Douglas Haden House, which had been empty for years. The Haden House is now a Visitor's Center and Museum, and offices are open daily Monday-Friday. The House Museum hours are open for four hours on Saturday and Sunday. There is a restroom building next to the parking lot at the rear of Haden House open during business hours, and many locations under the large shade trees for reserving time for a wedding. There is even the opportunity during normal business hours to use the small reading room upstairs in the House, if inclement weather intrudes for an outside ceremony.  


Your best bet for details is to call Malinda Payne Monday-Friday at (434) 589-2016  


Reading Room for Inside Wedding

Again, here is the link for more information about Fluvanna County's Pleasant Grove Park. When mapquesting the location, the address is 1736 Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Highway 53), Palmyra, VA 22963. What will be a truly pleasant surprise is how reasonable the fees are for reserving space and equipment for weddings and family gatherings. As time allows, check out Fluvanna County's latest and greatest addition for creating memories. THEN - give us a call or send an e-mail and let's plan your wedding in this lovely country setting.  


Grinding Wheel Outside

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vows ... The Key Moment in Every Wedding Ceremony

Intimate Loving Couple This element is the verbal exchange between the couple that expresses the sincere promises they are making to each other regarding their intention for the marriage. Perhaps a visit to a dictionary definition of the word vow allows for a start: "a solemn promise or assertion ... by which a person is bound to an act, service or condition." On the basis of this definition alone, the decision to write your own vows or adapt traditional vows makes perfect sense.  After all, if you're binding yourself for life, shouldn't you have a say in what it is that you're binding yourself to?

Think about it!

Not so long ago, wives were bound to obey their husbands. For hundreds of years no one gave that "obey" clause a second thought. It's only in recent times that people have begun to blaze their own trails.  When it comes to vow exchanges now, there is indeed flexibility. Mixing and matching traditional vows, incorporating lines of poetry, or writing completely original material are all acceptable, at least in the weddings we perform. However, the solemn nature of the vows has not changed. You are still making a pledge before all, so keep this question in mind: "What exactly are you promising your betrothed?"

Vows seem to create the most apprehension for many couples

In well over half of our weddings, a couple will decide to allow us to review and write vows for their review, after receiving their in depth questionnaires, which are used for the process of discovery as to their hopes and dreams and other matters of the heart.  Through their openness in answering questions about their relationship and how it evolved for a lifetime partnership, each individual is forced to write down those pertinent aspects of their growth together, and therefore the exploration touches on the uniqueness of their journey and the qualities which convinced each of them to make this public commitment for all to share.

The Questionnaires are not a test; they are a tool for knowing each couple intimately

hearts-icon.jpg This exploration in writing has proven to be the answer for personalization of text for all elements of the ceremony. It is also a marvelous stimulus for capturing and highlighting thoughts for personalizing vows, and/or at least providing the minister with insights for originating a couple's vows. The words spoken by the couple as promises or vows may be memorized, read from a card, or recited after the Minister.

Our approach for a Couple who originates and delivers their Vows has proven helpful

Couples must discuss the comfort level of each partner, especially when it comes to writing and delivering the vows in front of a gathering.  Some partners simply are very uncomfortable personally speaking in front of an audience at a time of high emotion. However, when the couple has concluded this direction, and wish to withhold sharing of the text with each other until the actual ceremony, then each partner e-mails the minister a copy of the script in advance. The Minister will review each script for balance for timing and tone, and relate back some suggestions which might enhance one or both deliveries.  This necessity for feedback has only occurred when a Bride had an abundance to relate, and the Groom's words were much too short. In addition, when a couple submits their vows early enough, the minister has time to tailor his or her address so as not to repeat the couple's thoughts for each other. After all, the vows should be given priority and never over-shadowed or repeated in other elements. Just ideas to consider.

Let your imagination be your guide

Whether customizing your own vows for personal delivery, or making a list for reciting after the Minister, develop vows that are meaningful to both you and your partner, that say something unique about your love, and that exemplify the way you envision your future together. Although your guests will be there to hear you speak your vows, this part of the ceremony is strictly between you and your intended. Listen to your heart ... the words will follow.

Sincerely ... Reverend Elisheva

P.S.  There are three books which we frequently access for reference for wedding elements.  We recommend:
  • "The Everything Wedding Vows Book," 3rd Edition by Don Lipper and Elizabeth Sagehorn
  • "Sacred Ceremony" by Dayna Reid
  • "Alternative Weddings," by Jane Ross-MacDonald
Some of the thoughts in this article on vows came from these sources.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When a Love Affair Impacts Total Strangers in a Most Positive Way

bride-holding-bouquet.jpg You would be absolutely correct to assume that the love of two people expressed openly for family and friends in a wedding ceremony truly radiates an energy deeply shared by all. You would also be correct to assume that over the course of the life of those couples who sustain and nourish their love for each other, each new contact to enter their home will be influenced by the kindness which is integral from a loving environment.
There is another unexpected consequence of a ceremony performed by Rev.  Elisheva

Since 2010 a significant portion of every ministerial fee received has been directed to support
the independent non-religious, nonprofit, 501(c)3, ALL volunteer public charity known as Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS). Some couples over the years have made separate donations and others were made aware that a percentage of their wedding fee would be applied to support the least able among us in times of family crisis ... families neither the ministers or the couples will ever meet or know. 

So - when a couple reads my blog posting of November 11, 2013 which is 2014 guidance for allowing me to be considered as the wedding minister, it is prominent to know that their love for each other will cause a ripple effect when it  reaches out to be shared by strangers in crisis.
"In essence the love of two people through the act of a public commitment is extended one more level when an automatic contribution is triggered for lodging, food, and other needs for an underfunded patient or caregiver to sustain for a long distance trip for critical treatment to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. Every wedding allows a couple to fall under our umbrella which states, ' You don't have to know someone to be a Friend'."
Blessings .... Reverend Elisheva

Friday, January 31, 2014

WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards™ 2014

For Immediate Release: PRESS RELEASE

            Charlottesville, VA - January 31, 2014  - WeddingWire, the nation's leading online wedding marketplace, named Reverend Elisheva Weddings as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards™ 2014 for Reverend Elisheva Clegg, Interfaith Minister & Pastoral Counselor, M.A. in Palmyra, VA!
            The WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards™ 2014 recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The esteemed awards are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their professional achievements from the previous year.
            While many industry award winners are selected by the host organization, the WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards™ winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Reverend Elisheva Weddings. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.
"There's no better way to start the year than by honoring the hard work, commitment and success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network," said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. "It is exciting to celebrate a sixth year recognizing businesses whose clients believe they are committed to quality, professionalism and all around top-notch service. We are honored to recognize Reverend Elisheva Weddings for their impressive achievements within the wedding industry."
            As a Couples' Choice Awards™ winner, Reverend Elisheva Weddings is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout North America and abroad.
            Reverend Elisheva Weddings is proud to be one of the top Interfaith Wedding Ministers serving the Virginia, Maryland, DC areas in the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding,, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards™ 2014.
            For more information about Reverend Elisheva Weddings, please visit our WeddingWire Storefront today at Reverend Elisheva Weddings.
            To learn more about the Couple's Choice Awards™, please visit  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Poem for All Seasons Every Day


On page 10 from "Poems that Touch the Heart,"
Compiled by A.L. Alexander, first published in April 1941
is this memorable lesson.

Tell Her So 

Amid the cares of married strife
In spite of toil and business life
If you value your dear wife -
Tell her so!

When days are dark and deeply blue
She has her troubles, same as you
Show her that your love is true
Tell her so!

Don't act as if she's past her prime
As tho' to please her were a crime
If ever you loved her, now's the time -
Tell her so!

She'll return for each caress
A hundred fold of tenderness,
Hearts like hers were made to bless;
Tell her so!

You are hers and hers alone;
Well you know she's all your own;
Don't wait to carve it on a stone -
Tell her so!

Never let her heart grow cold
Richer beauties will unfold
She is worth her weight in gold
Tell her so!
                     AUTHOR UNKNOWN

If we had one more thing to say, do not delay another day.
Happy New Year ... Elisheva and T. Wade