Finding the Right Wedding Officiant

Father Pat and Rabbi Lebow, happy!There is one area about weddings that is so often over-looked but just as important when it comes to the planning stages of a wedding. Most people think of finding a wedding officiant as a given. There’s always someone out there who will marry two people together, or maybe your aunt’s great cousin happens to be certified for officiating weddings. But the process for picking the right wedding priest or rabbi goes a bit further than just expecting to find one. Because you may find one, but they may not be the right one! But what is the right kind of wedding official?

The first key to the right wedding official for you is to find someone you are comfortable with. When shopping around for any official from therapist to rabbi you need to be able to be comfortable with the person you find, and if you aren’t then you might want to look for someone else. Keeping the wedding officiant clued into what is going on and what you are looking for with your wedding is a good way to figure out which one might be right for you and how comfortable you are with them.

All it takes is talking about what kind of ceremony language you want to include in your wedding and what you want in your ceremony to determine rather quickly if you’ve found the right wedding officiant. Sometimes something as simple as changing the words of man and wife to husband and wife could be something a wedding official doesn’t want to do. Or you might find a wedding officiant that just wants to talk and they have speeches laid out in between vows that may not be something you want.

Of course, you don’t control everything with a wedding official. If you go to a Christian priest, you can’t always expect them to agree to the idea of saying a Hebrew prayer during the ceremony. Though it never hurts to ask if that is something you are looking for. Just remember to be respectful and you will be able to find the right wedding officiant for you.

Nevada’s First Same-Sex Married Couple?

14439977_SThe excitement around same-sex marriage exploded into full-blown celebrations as the California court of appeals struck down multiple same-sex marriage bans in one go, with the supreme court backing them up by letting laws stay in a few states that would prevent same-sex marriage from being removed as a possibility to the state. Overall the whirlwind resulted in a total of 35 states of the 50 that will have legal same-sex marriage.

Among the couples that jumped at the chance to finally get married were the Nevada State Senator, Kelvin Atkinson and his partner Sherwood Howard, who married on the courthouse steps, moments after getting their license and had the first same-sex wedding within Nevada.

At first the senator was unsure if they would marry as soon as they were able to get the license, but it became clear after their wait for over 6 ½ years, they were finally able to go through with it. And that was after a great moment in which the senator proposed in front of hundreds when it was revealed on what the appeals court decision was.

All over the United States we are seeing people rejoice for further same-sex marriages that can take place once again. Unfortunately South Carolina does hold out despite the recent ban over-turning including them. They continue to wait until a Supreme Court decision is made on their ban case, which will stall things. But with the way things have gone with the Supreme Court so far, short of the court deciding they just don’t want to deal with a case and hold it off, they are likely to approve the strike-down of the ban.

It seems more of the nation is jumping on the chance to allow any couples to get married if they want to. Still, there are around fifteen left that have not dealt with this and it’s likely to only be a matter of time, especially as more cases are filed against the bans. Maybe America really is the land of the free.

Can an Expensive Wedding Negatively Impact the Relationship?

11312359_SThe media is constantly abuzz with celebrity news, and they love to talk about lavish wedding ceremonies in exotic locales. Too often, people hear about these stories and yearn for their own luxurious nuptials on the French Riviera or some other suitable locale. This is one reason why people feel so much pressure to put together a dream wedding.

In fact, spending big bucks on a massive ceremony and reception can actually negatively impact the relationship, which undermines the whole reason for the marriage ceremony in the first place. As this article published by The Wall Street Journal discusses, some leading economics researchers from universities here in our own city of Atlanta have weighed in on the situation.

Two professors from Emory University published a paper discussing the findings of a study in which they tracked wedding budgets and the records of the marriages that followed. On average, couples that spent more on their weddings got divorced more often than those who had a somewhat more austere ceremony.

Although the researchers define this as a correlation and haven’t found a direct link between expensive weddings and higher divorce rates, there are plenty of theories. When a large price tag for a wedding causes a financial strain on a relationship that can lead to undue stress and turbulence in the home. As the article points out, average wedding costs in the United States have skyrocketed while people aren’t earning much more from their salaries.

Planning a wedding that fits within a budget is not as hard as it sounds. Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings charges a reasonable rate for his wedding officiant services, and brings a great deal of fun energy to any nuptial ceremony. From traditional Jewish to interfaith to LGBT weddings, he can help a wide array of couples celebrate the tying of their marital bonds in front of their friends and families.

Private Love Finally Publically Official

27513880_SVivian Boyack and Nonie Dubes are just one of the many people in the world that just got married in 2014. The only difference is they had been waiting for over 72 years to be able to do it officially. Vivian and Nonie could not legally marry in Iowa until 2009, and it was only recently that they finally went through with it because of a friend that came to their home. They had never considered it before because they had to hide their relationship for so many years.

So they finally chose to go through with a wedding and make it public after 70 years of silence and having everyone around them believing they were just long-living roommates. It was a shock to some of their friends and family, but only because they hadn’t considered how the two women had felt about each other.

The wedding was complete with wedding dresses for the both of them, and vows exchanged, even while they were both in wheelchairs. But it is a wedding like this that just shows how powerful they can be and why they are so important for same-sex couples to have access to them just as much as anyone else. If you’ve spent over 70 years with someone, privately enjoying your love and life with them, shouldn’t you be able to choose to marry when you wanted?

And although these women had taken the next step and plunged into the world of marriage, they were quite adamant in saying that their relationship and life had been what it was so far, and even getting married wasn’t going to change that. Except that, now they can be public and open to their friends and family about their relationship and that is the kind of load off one’s shoulders that you truly can never replace.


Historic and Hip in Atlanta

11593519_SAll too often people decide that if something is historic or traditional it also can’t be trendy or hip. But Atlanta has been doing both of these for so long that it now actually has history of its trendiness. But it’s not just the history of trendiness that makes this city a spot to enjoy; it’s also the amount of romance that can be found from the collection of history and livelihood.

When you have a city so filled with history that it has places like the Goat Farm Arts Center or a Civil Rights Center, it can be a bit difficult in determining the kinds of places you might like to enjoy with a loved one. Well sometimes following your favorite trends can actually lead to the perfect places to visit in Atlanta, like the Goat Farm Arts Center actually had filming from the Hunger Games series of movies, as well as the TV show The Walking Dead.

Another crowd pleaser comes with the Swan House in Atlanta, which not only serves a variety of tours and is handled by the History Center, but it also has been a site for a number of films. Many of the tours will actually include some of the areas where the films were shot and even mention it.

30326166_SNow if you are looking for more of the food variety to enjoy there is always the biggest drive-in in the entire world. Varsity Drive-in is so massive that they serve miles of hot dogs daily and seem to constantly be busy. It doesn’t seem like such a great spot if you want some alone time, but because it is a drive-in, you can stop in and pick up a meal quickly as long as you know what you want, then you can go somewhere like the various parks in Atlanta and enjoy a picnic elsewhere.

If you are looking for more of a sit-down place then you’ll find the Mary Mac’s Tea Room, which has been around for 70 years. It’s one of the only remaining original tea rooms to pop up in Atlanta and actually kept much of the same outer look while constantly changing their inner look to be hip. But their food has always remained the same, and you won’t find a better peach cobbler.

These are just some of the amazing and ‘Hipstoric’ places in Atlanta that you can enjoy with anyone really, but always be on the lookout for ways to make it romantic with someone, especially if you’ve never been in the area before.


Celebrity Wedding Fun

14116481_SAbove all else, a wedding should be a fun time for everyone involved and invited. A marriage is a celebration of love, and that sense of celebrating should be present during every moment of the ceremony and reception. Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings knows how to keep the day relaxed, and he loves to see examples of couples across the country taking it easy, sometimes in very goofy ways.

This photo gallery published by The Daily Beast shows some wedding photos from couples who have really let loose, often with a boost from a friend with someone celebrity status. For example, look at the dinosaur disaster photo featuring a tyrannosaurus rex chasing a wedding party that includes none other than Jeff Goldblum, star of Jurassic Park. The bride and groom, friends of Goldblum’s, asked if he would take part in the unusual photo shoot, and photos show how into character Goldblum and others got during the experience.

Another photo features that ultimate wedding crasher, Bill Murray. This celeb star of Caddyshack and plenty of other films has made a name for himself in recent years by showing up unannounced to parties and making his presence felt in some unusual ways. In the photo gallery, we can see him getting in on one couple’s wedding photos. According to the story, Murray had stumbled into the photo shoot and amused the couple being photographed until the cameraman decided to let Murray join the shot.

It’s nice to see big name celebs helping each other on their big day. Look at the photo from Vanessa Carlton’s wedding, for example. In it, we can see Stevie Nicks, lead singer of Fleetwood Mac; Nicks was actually on hand to officiate Carlton’s wedding.

People are always interested in the activities of celebrities, even if those actions aren’t always to be emulated. However, there are plenty of examples of responsible celebrity fun as well, and it’s nice to see so many taking an active role in the matrimonial ceremonies of friends. Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings will make you and your significant other feel like the celebrities on your day of marriage. Call today if you need someone both professional and relaxed to officiate your wedding.

The Benefits of a Surprise Wedding

Jewish weddingA couple’s wedding day all too often becomes a source of stress, especially in the days leading up to the wedding, and especially for couples who are trying to accommodate large numbers of friends and family members. It’s important to remember, however, that the real focus of this day is the bride and groom and the celebration of their love for each other.

In some cases, couples have gone to some extremes in order to tie the knot clandestinely, allowing them to focus their attentions on a much smaller ceremony. As this article published by CBS Boston reports, surprise weddings have been a way for couples to dive right into the ceremony, getting rid of any chance that cold feet may develop.

For these ceremonies, the couple must do a great deal of planning in order to make sure that the surprise goes off without a hitch. In many situations, a group of people must be brought together at a specific place and time. It’s not until the bride and groom start walking in that many are aware that a wedding will take place. However, surprising guests in this manner allows a couple to spontaneously celebrate their love and focus on far fewer aspects of the event than weddings with many attendees and a large reception afterwards.

In very few cases, the surprise is taken even one step further and a fiancé is kept in the dark as to what’s going on. This may be something that only the bravest may want to attempt, or those who are sure that their significant other will appreciate the gesture. However, as the above article discusses, this can also become a romantic gesture which a bride or groom will remember for years to come.

Here at Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, we’re interested in helping couples express their love for each other in the way that suits them best. Rabbi Lebow can help you celebrate your wedding, no matter if you’re looking for a ceremony with a lot of fanfare or a simple program. Call us today to discuss the possible dates for your nuptials.

Finding Your Soul Mate in Atlanta

8632612_SDr. Carmen Harra, a psychologist and relationship expert who works with the Huffington Post, is of the opinion that soul mates are found, not made. That’s not to say that life-partner relationships cannot be formed and even successful when the people involved are not soul mates, just that it’s a different experience.

Dr. Harra has put together a list of five characteristics that define soul mate relationships, as opposed to life-partner relationships.

First, partners who are soul mates may experience bouts of déjà vu or flashbacks. She believes that most soul mates seek each other out, in this life or one from the past and sometimes those memories break through.

Second, some people chalk up partners that finish each other’s sentences to simply spending too much time together. However, Dr. Harra believes this is the soul mate connection – a sign that two people are so in tune with each other that they can not only read each other, but also write each other.

Third, soul mate relationships generally stand the test of time more easily than life-partner relationships, as soul mates not only accept each other’s flaw, but also learn to love them.

Fourth, soul mate relationships are formed around compromise and unity more than life-partner relationships. This is a facet to be wary of, as it can sometimes lead to an “us against the world,” almost relationship-bubble mentality.

Finally, soul mates look each other in the eye much more often and with more ease than life-partners. Looking into someone’s eyes denotes a high level of comfort and confidence, so it’s not surprising that soul mates do it naturally.

If you’re ready to make it official, whether you believe you’re soul mates or life-partners, contact Rabbi Lebow at Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings. We’re excited to be a part of your big day.


Enjoying Your Partner Without Technology

Jenna Briand met her husband at a bar in New York City and hit it off instantly. Except that when they parted for the night, he refused to exchange numbers. He asked for her name and requested that she meet him again, same time, same place, four days later. Thinking it was quirky, but endearing, she did.

But Mrs. Briand started to become suspicious of a man that vehemently eschewed e-mail, texting, and phone calls. She couldn’t imagine that he only wanted to discover her face-to-face and didn’t have something (a wedding ring, perhaps?) that he was hiding. But he wasn’t married – just a hopeless romantic.

They married a year later, finding that the no-technology policy paid off. They celebrated their twelve year anniversary this year, with Jenna’s husband having maintained a thoroughly non-technological slant for the majority of that time.

However, one night, the Briands found themselves in bed on two different iPads, watching The Daily Show and House of Cards, respectively. They were enjoying alone time together, an important part of every long-term relationship, but Jenna noticed that this was the fourth or fifth night in a row that had ended this way. So she shut off the iPad, turned to her husband and asked about his day. They talked for hours and decided that those moments succeeded in bringing them closer than the past five nights just sitting next to each other.

Technology is an important part of our courting system now. It’s not a bad thing – just something to be aware of. Taking time to shut off the iPad and enjoy your partner face-to-face without a screen between you is what being in love is all about.

Call Rabbi Lebow of Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings today to start writing the rest of your story. We’re excited to help!


*Video courtesy of Rendersen25

Love Grows With a Kiss

We are at our most vulnerable in a first kiss. There’s a beautiful project circulating the internet right now where a videographer, Tatia Pilieva, asks twenty strangers to kiss for the first time on camera. Of the ten shots, every single “couple” starts out asking each other names, standing awkwardly, laughing at the ridiculously personal task they’ve been set.

Some of the couples wind up with a quick peck and finish with a hug. Other couples get a little more passionate, an artificial or a genuine chemistry flaring up between them. It’s bizarre to watch – this very structured project taking something as personal as a first kiss and putting it on display for millions of viewers to invade.

But it says something about how we work. We can’t control who we’re attracted to physically, or not attracted to. We can’t control how the other person is going to respond to a romantic advance. We can’t control how we are going to react when the kiss is over.

Perhaps the most stunning, raw part of the project is in the aftermath of the kiss. One of the men, taller than the stranger he was paired with, drapes an arm around her shoulder and leans his head on hers. It’s hard to imagine that this couple is not going to go grab a coffee after the camera shuts down.

Love blooms in the most unexpected of places. It starts with a kiss and who knows where it will lead? A true relationship must stand the test of time, of trial, of strife, and of change. But it’s a nice reminder that it always starts the same: with a kiss.

At Atlanta Jewish & Interfaith Weddings, this is what we do: we celebrate love and commitment. Contact Rabbi Lebow today to schedule your first kiss, as bonded partners.


*Video courtesy of Tatia PIlieva