So today's review is a little bit different than the usual. Rather than a book review, today's post features a review I've written for the officiant that my husband and I reached out to, to have marry us. Her name is Barbara Densmore and she is fantastic.
My husband Dearran and I got married about 4 months ago. And we got engaged a mere 6 months before that. Needless to say, things were hectic during that time. Dearran did a lot of research on different officiants we could go with, and many of them responded to our inquiry, but none of them felt "right"
Until Barbara got back to us that is.
Her tone of her response to Dearran's inquiry email was warm, and inviting. She set up an inital Skype consulation with us and explained different types of ceremonies she had performed. She shared some lovely stories with us about the other couples she had married, and had a genuine passion for what she does.
She also was very in tune with Dearran's and my desire to actively participate in our ceremony and not to just simply stand up in front of our families and be pronounced married. She understands that getting married is an active process, which we were all for.
I knew right from the initial call that she was the one to go with, but we did check around a bit first before giving the go ahead. There was one slight misunderstanding in the very beginning, in terms of how intimate and detailed that we wanted our ceremony to be. At first Dearran and I had mistakenly given off the impression that we wanted a more basic ceremony, with particular elements due to our circumstances, but we wanted something much more intimate, with our particular required elements included.
Luckily,Barbara is very understanding, After a bit of clarifcation, we were on the same page and moved forward with creating our ceremony.
We had a few unique elements to our situation that probably would have made other people hesitate at the task of marrying us, but none of it seemed to phase Barbara in the least. She helped us figure out exactly what we wanted to do.
First, we were having a destination wedding of sorts. I live in the US, my husband lives in Canada (we are in the midst of the immigration process at the moment), and we got married in Vancouver B.C. So unfortunately,there were not any face to face meetings with Barbara before the wedding.
But, she was great about scheduling Skype sessions, corresponding by email when questions arose, and helping us put together a schedule to get our beautiful custom ceremony finished in time for the wedding. She was also okay with us not having a rehearsal beforehand as it was too hectic in the days leading up since our family and friends were all flying in at different times.
Second, we wanted to have a handfasting as part of our wedding.
According to Wikipedia, a handfasting is: The verb to handfast in the sense of "to formally promise, to make a contract" is recorded for Late Old English, especially in the context of a contract of marriage. The derived handfasting is for a ceremony of engagement or betrothal is recorded in Early Modern English.
Dearran and I took it to mean the act of binding ourselves together physically (using ribbons) and emotionallythrough our wedding vows and the promises we made to each other. It's where the phrase "tying the knot" is derived from.
Here's what ours looked like
There are many different ways to customize a handfasting. We chose to use nine different ribbons, with each color signifying different meanings and promises.
We also wanted to personalize our handfasting ceremony. Luckily for us, Barbara is all for customization.
She took the time to get to know us by asking a series of detailed questions about us as individuals and as a couple, and took the time to really craft a unique story with the details of our nearly ten year relationship history to tell our guests.
She gave us guidance and options of what we could include in our ceremony. She also gave us suggestions of things she thought might work nicely, but without any pressure to use them. She wasn't offended in the least when we turned down some of her suggestions or personalized them to make them our own.
We had a smaller wedding, with only 18 guests in attendance, and many of them participated in our handfasting portion of our ceremony.
Barbara was great about explaining how the handfasting worked, helping coordinate it, and prepare for it. Things were a bit crazy, and she had no problem jumping right in to help cut the ribbons to the right lengths for us to use.
I only got the chance to meet and talk with Barbara for a few minutes in person because things were so rushed. She came up to see me right as I was just about to be getting in to my wedding dress. I had a full slip that went underneath my dress, and I had just gotten it on when she came up.
Whereas with anyone else I would have been utterly embarrassed to be meeting them in only a slip, it wasn't that way with Barbara. I think my lack of embarrassment was a combination of the frenzy of the day, but also her warm personality.
She's done plenty of weddings and she knows how hectic things can get, and so my being in just a slip was just a fact and nothing to be embarrassed about. She said hello, checked over some last minute details with me, and told me not to worry about it when I apologized for my state of undress. Then she left me to finish getting ready and I wasn't embarrassed in the slightest.
I got downstairs and we went on to have a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. There was laughter, tears, and a few nerves and stumbled over words, but it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so far. Everyone from family members, to our photographer commented on how unique and heartfelt our ceremony was.
Dearran and I alternated our promises to each other with each different colored ribbon, and I got so lost in the moment of it at one point that I was just standing there staring, not realizing it was my turn to share a promise. Barbara quietly prompted me through some other parts as well.
She also genuinely shared in the joy of our day. Whereas I've heard stories of officiants just perfunctorily performing their duties, and calling it done, Barbra's joy and passion for her work is evident in her enthusiasm before, during and after the whole process.
Dearran and I are both thrilled that she was able to perform our wedding, and we are so glad we went with our gut and chose her to marry us.
In addition to weddings, Barbara also performs many other types of milestone celebrations, so if you're looking for someone to help you create a one of a kind, heartfelt ceremony or celebration, I can't recommdend Barbara enough.