Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lord Thompson Manor: A Connecticut Treasure

I have the best job in the world. I get to celebrate couples and their families on a very, very special day in their lives. It’s also wonderful to get to discover the best venues around the state. I had the opportunity to work at Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, Connecticut last week at Alice Lin and Jonathan Stilwell’s wedding and I cannot say enough good things about the venue, its owner and the remarkable staff. 

Tucked away in the northeast corner of Connecticut, Lord Thompson Manor is an absolute treasure. Built in 1917 as the summer home of the Gladdings, (the family who founded the department store of the same name in Providence, Rhode Island), the manor house is situated on a 40 acre estate, the grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The current owners Jackie and Andrew Silverstone celebrate the elegance and history of the manor house, having created the gold standard of wedding venues anywhere. 

Jackie Silverstone brings an inspired vision to everything she does. This is not a venue that you just rent for the night, it is a complete experience that Jackie, her general manager Ted Reynolds and the rest of the highly professional staff create. It’s like a destination wedding venue, even if you live just around the corner! That is how special it is. 

The couple I married, Alice and Jonathan, told Jackie the colors they wanted for their wedding, then gave her full creative freedom. It was truly one of the most beautiful weddings I have seen. Before the ceremony started, I wandered around looking at the gorgeous table settings, trying to take in everything because it all was a treat for the senses. Jackie did all the flowers herself, including the bridal bouquets. There were buckets full of every shade of purple flower imaginable and parisols gracefully sitting nearby. A table of whimsical clear glass vessels of every shape and size were full of purple candies and reflected the light from numerous votive candles. Even the cake table was something special…a deeply-hued purple cloth covered the round table and ever so slightly ballooned out with a gentle fullness then tucked back in at the bottom. I wasn’t sure how she achieved this, maybe it had crinoline underneath it? I don’t know, I just know that I love this kind of creative elegance and attention to detail. 

And then, there is the staff. The wonderful Ted Reynolds is the general manager and heads up a group of people who care about what they do and make sure you are beautifully taken care of. Ted is a classically trained vocalist (with a gorgeous tenor voice) and can bring his formidable skills to your wedding as well. So consider having a special song to begin your ceremony and for goodness sake…get Ted to sing it! 

Most of the adult staff have been there a good while and they treat you as if welcoming you into their own home. And truly, that is the feeling you get from the moment you step in the front door and are warmly greeted by LouAnne. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best bartender in the world, Peter who has worked there for years. 

Even the young adult staff were amazing. The guys were smartly dressed in clean and well pressed tuxes. The young female staff were dressed in tea length, a-line black skirts, black tops and a strand of pearls and they all had impeccable manners. This is when I knew I had died and gone to heaven. Be still my heart. What these young people are learning from the mentoring of Jackie and Ted will serve them throughout their lives. It’s not just about butlering or table service…it is about poise and presence, about doing things with care, elegance, and grace. 

Lord Thompson Manor is a beautiful manor house, there is no question. But what Jackie has created and what Ted and his staff foster, goes way beyond that. They set the highest standard and do it in a warm and welcoming way. 

Thank you Jackie, Ted, Kate, Danielle, LouAnne, Peter, Kevin and all the wonderful people at Lord Thompson…and Alice and Jonathan for having me as their Celebrant!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy 1st and 19th Anniversary to my friends Mark & Michael

January 18th, 2012, Mark Rhodes and Michael Decker exchanged their vows of marriage. Today marks the first anniversary of their marriage as well as the 19th anniversary of being together. 

Congratulations Mark & Michael!

Mark and Michael have been friends of mine since 1999 when I moved to the beautiful neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, New York. On historic Middagh St. is the charming store front of Salon Van Sickel ( the hair salon of choice for everyone who is anyone in Brooklyn Heights! This is where I met owners Mark & Michael and it didn’t take long for us to become friends. In fact, it happened the first time I walked through the door. So when they asked me to officiate their wedding ceremony I was thrilled! Michael & Mark have been part of my life for years and even though I no longer live in Brooklyn Heights, they are never far from my thoughts or heart.

January 18th of last year was a lovely crisp and clear winter’s evening in New York City. We gathered in the upper westside apartment of Michael’s mother and step-father and with family and friends and Max & Luke (their two enthusiastic shelties) all around, we celebrated Mark & Michael’s wedding ceremony. Then we went off to enjoy dinner together! A perfect evening in every way.

It really doesn’t get any better than having the honor of officiating the wedding of dear friends.
Thank you Michael & Mark and a very happy anniversary to you!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


While looking forward to the new year is certainly something that comes naturally to us humans (and often with a sigh of relief that we get to start all over again) it’s always valuable to review the year ended. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on how much progress we’ve made while being mindful of how much more progress is needed. While we have miles to go with regard to achieving marriage equality, looking back over 2012 we can celebrate some significant progress here at home and around the world.

In 1989, Denmark became the first country in the world to legally recognize same-sex partnerships. In 1997 same-sex couples were given the right to be legally married in Denmark but they were not allowed to marry in the church.  In June, Denmark’s Parliament approved same-sex couples’ right to full church weddings if they choose with amenable clergy permitted to officiate. 

On this side of the pond, Washington state approved same-sex marriage on December 6th with the great state of Maine following soon after on December 29th. On November 6, 2012, the state of Maryland’s voters approved same-sex marriage, becoming the first instance in which voters approved same-sex marriage at the ballot. 

I sincerely hope that next year I will be able to post many more states and countries to this list. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Katie & Lindsay on New Year's Eve!

I met Lindsay and Katie more than two years ago and from the moment I met them I knew they were two very special women. They bring so much care and thoughtfulness to how they live, committed to experiencing life in its fullest terms. They have enjoyed many adventures together, climbing Half Dome in Yosemite, riding their bikes up Cadillac Mountain in Maine and training for and running in marathons (Lindsay has run 11 so far!) Katie and Lindsay are seekers, not only in exploring the outside world but also the interior world, the mysteries of the heart and this tenacious yet fragile life we are so fortunate to have. And it is that appreciation that informs who they are and how they value their family, friends, and all creatures.  Plus, they are exceptionally fun to be around!
So naturally, I was thrilled when they ask me to do their wedding ceremony! Last night at Lindsay’s mother’s home, under a beautiful arbor made by Katie’s father, we celebrated their 10 + year relationship as they exchanged their vows of marriage. Family friends created a gorgeous and scrumptious table of goodies as guests took pictures of Katie and Lindsay and reveled in the evening’s celebration. Lindsay’s sister Kylie toasted the couple with a beautiful reading by Joanna Field:  

I was as sure as that I was alive, that happiness not only needs no justification, but that it is also the only final test of whether what I am doing is right for me. Only of course, happiness is not the same as pleasure, it includes the pain of losing as well as the pleasure of finding. 

It was an absolutely perfect way to end the year and begin the new one. Lindsay and Katie, you are wonderful and I treasure having been part of this very special journey in your lives. Congratulations and a very, very, very happy 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Poor Old Shine

Last night I saw the most wonderful band, Poor Old Shine, who bravely made it through 10 inches of snow to play for a party in Coventry, Connecticut. They are an incredibly talented and creative group. Not every band member could get there last night because of the weather, but those who did, treated all of us to their beautiful compositions and thoughtful arrangements. Thank you Poor Old Shine! 

Chris Freeman (vocals, guitar & banjo), Max Shakun (guitar, pump organ), Harrison Goodale (Bass), and Brian Conlon (washboard, percussion, bells). 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wyatt Bombara's Baby Blessing!

On November 11th of this year, at the beautiful Golden Lamb Buttery in Brooklyn, Connecticut, (  10 month old Wyatt Bombara celebrated his official Baby Blessing surrounded by family and friends. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and we were lucky enough to be able to do Wyatt’s blessing out on the deck overlooking the pastures. We could not have asked for better weather.
This was a particularly meaningful ceremony for me because on November 14th, 2010 I officiated Wyatt’s parent’s wedding ceremony at the Hartford Society Room. I got to tell the wonderful story of how they met and fell in love and their proposal story which involved a lot of texting! Kate and Chris Bombara are the most wonderful, genuine, and warm couple and when they contacted me to do Wyatt’s baby blessing I was thrilled! This was the first baby blessing I have done for a couple whom I married. It was so fun to see their family members and friends after almost 2 years. Chris’s son Christian, now 13 years old, was Chris’s best man in 2010 and since then he has grown SO much! I am a big fan of Christian’s. He is a wonderful big brother to Wyatt and is quite a good athlete and student. I’m sure in a few years he’ll be as tall (if not taller) than Chris. Plus he is a very good public speaker and helped in the ceremony by reading  a lovely piece about children by Dorothy Nolte.Thank you Christian!
Wyatt, our guest of honor, is a smart and seriously handsome boy. I could definitely see both of his parents in him. He is very aware of everything going on around him and was wide awake and interested at what was being said and done at his baby blessing. Chris held him for most of the ceremony and just at the end when I was about to present Wyatt to his community and give the final blessing, Chris held on to Wyatt’s hands as Wyatt practiced standing, which gave me a perfect opportunity to kneel down right in front of him and offer Wyatt’s blessing face to face! He seemed a little surprised at that and I saw a big smile cross his face, and then even more smiles when everyone cheered and clapped.
Chris and Kate Bombara honored me the first time by entrusting their wedding ceremony to me. To be asked two years later to offer the blessing for Wyatt was another huge  honor and one I will always cherish.
Happy belated second year anniversary Kate and Chris! You and Christian and Wyatt will always be part of my heart.