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