Valentines Day Q&A with Fabulous Wedding Celebrant Terri Williams of Moonstone: Meaningful Marri
Cue the red velvet and rom-coms: It's Valentines Day (week)! I LOVE this holiday. Who cares if it sparks a little last minute procrastination, longer lines at the grocery store and PDA? Not this girl. Bring me ALL of the pink and red icing, punny Valentine memes, chocolate, cheesy love notes and flowers because to be honest I could celebrate this a few times a year and be fine with it. This year for Valentines Day I wanted to offer something to the area's most newly engaged couples to celebrate in the name of LOVE, and who better to partner with than my friend Terri Williams, Wedding Celebrant and Owner of Moonstone: Meaningful Marriage Ceremonies. Terri is something special, and the tears on the cheeks of audience members at her wedding ceremonies can prove it. She was kind enough to spend some time telling us all about how she prepares her couples for the most significant moment of their relationship to date (including her own daughter's - my best friend Emma got married in October)!
Terri with a happily married Kaylee and Katherine! Photo by Cindy Lee Photography
SGO: What made you want to officiate weddings?
MMMC: I have attended MANY weddings over the years; they were all pretty much "cookie cutter" and it seemed like the priest/minister/officiant just went through the motions. Often, it was obvious that they didn't know the couple very well; one priest even called the bride by the wrong name! There was nothing very spiritual or special about the majority of weddings I witnessed... until I went to a wedding where the mother of the groom officiated. It was the BEST wedding I had EVER been to! It was held in the couple's back yard on a beautiful fall day. The ceremony was funny, loving, spiritual, and meaningful. I remember thinking that I would be good at marrying people and if I ever did become an officiant, MY ceremonies would be something that couples and their loved ones would remember for years to come.
Several years after that wedding, my oldest daughter's best friend and her fiance (both of whom I have known since they were in high school), sent me a card saying that they had just gotten engaged and couldn't think of anyone else that they would want to marry them. After I finished crying, I called them and said it would be an honor. And Moonstone: Meaningful Marriage Ceremonies was launched.
Terri marrying her daughter Emma and son-in-Law Jeff - OH THE TEARS THAT WERE SHED THIS DAY! Photo cred: Alex Nardulli.
SGO: You married your own daughter, Emma, and her now husband Jeff. And I got to be a part of it! What was that like? Was it easy or hard? Did you cry? Spill!!
MMMC: Many people have asked me if it was hard to perform my daughter's wedding ceremony. The answer to that is both yes and no. During the process of building a ceremony, I am privy to intimate and personal thoughts that family and friends share with me about the couple, as well as what the bride and groom themselves discuss with me. I have choked up at some of the things people have sent me in response to my questions; I have even struggled to hold back tears during some ceremonies because I have been deeply moved by how a couple reacted to what I said about them.
I encourage all my couples to write or find something that speaks to what they feel about their partner...IF they are comfortable doing so. These special "Blessing Vows" are one of the little surprises that the couple first hears on their wedding day - as I ask them not to share the vows (and a few other things!) - with each other until the ceremony. With Emma and Jeff, after receiving their personal Blessing Vows, I sobbed...all three times I read them. And yet again when I dropped them into the ceremony.
By the time their wedding day arrived, I had built the ceremony over several days and had read and re-read the wording and was pretty much good-to-go ...until I actually SAW Emma come down the aisle with her dad...and I could feel myself tearing up...and then I looked up at Jeff and HE was crying...which made me start to cry...
By the time Emma stepped into her designated spot to the right of me and across from Jeff, I had pulled it together because a.) I had a job to do, b.) it was so freaking cold that I thought that if I kept crying my tears would freeze on my face, and c.) I had given Jeff all of my Kleenex.
Photo by Alex Nardulli
SGO: How has your history of public speaking helped you in this line of business?
MMMC: I served as the Mayor of Webster Groves and I have served in other leadership roles for decades... which makes me VERY comfortable in front of a few people or a crowd. My public speaking skills are such that I help both a bride and groom feel confident, calm, and relaxed. And I know how to make an audience - the guests - enjoy themselves and feel like they are an integral part of the couple's wedding day.
SGO: What would your dream day on the job look like?
MMMC: Each wedding ceremony I perform is a "dream job". Seriously. That's because each couple I marry are unique; they share really cool things with me about themselves and each other - which is such a privilege to be a part of! In addition, I get amazing feedback regarding what the bride and groom mean to their family and friends. During the ceremony, I share the answers to the questions that the couple sent back to me separately (another one of the surprises I mentioned earlier!) and they choke up and/or laugh; THAT makes officiating an absolute joy.
However, if I had to say what THE "best dream day officiating job" would be, I would have to say performing each of my three daughters wedding ceremonies. One down...
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...2 to go! If you're interested in Terri officiating your special ceremony (and why wouldn't you be!?), you can get in touch with her via her website - designed by Emily Johnson, website designer extraordinaire. Terri's also also listed on The Knot where couples can peruse reviews from past couples. She's got 5 stars across the board and its no surprise here - to say a few tears of my own have been shed at her weddings would be an understatement! Terri can also be reached by phone at 314.898.6329 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Moonstone Meaningful Marriage Ceremonies Facebook page here.