“Making It Official!”: Our Ceremony Officiant
When Rich and I first got engaged in Vernazza — after I stopped choking and got over my panic attack about planning a wedding and drafting the dreaded “guest list,” that is — I thought to myself, “Hmm, finding an officiant might be a bit of a challenge.” You see, I don’t associate myself with any kind of organized religion and was never even baptized as a child, whereas Rich is Roman Catholic. I knew that having a religious ceremony would be difficult, but I’ve also known since I was an undergraduate that I wanted to be married at Harkness Chapel. Connecticut College’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life requires that all wedding ceremonies held at the chapel be religious ceremonies, so I didn’t really have a choice. Also, I thought it would be nice to keep things as traditional as possible when it came to the ceremony itsel, which I woud prefer to have a sense of gravity in proportion to the seriousness of the commitment involved. Having a justice of the peace seemed to me a bit sterile. After searching for over a year for an option that both the College and I would find acceptable, Laurie McGrath of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life suggested that I get in touch with Rev. Carolyn Patierno.
I didn’t know much about the Universalist Unitarian church prior to this experience, so I decided to do a bit of research on both it and Rev. Patierno. I liked the church’s inclusive nature, as exclusivity and exclusion of “sinners” and undesirables is generally a problem I have with organised religions. I was also pleased by the results of my research on Carolyn Patierno. Rev. Patierno, of All Souls Church in New London, CT, serves as one of Connecticut College’s Chaplains. I was especially impressed by an article I found on a Valentine’s Day speech she delivered several years ago, in which she stated her reasons for not signing marriage certificates in the State of Connecticut, which at the time did not yet recognize same-sex marriage:
“I’ve always understood my role as a minister to be religious,” she said this week. “I help couples create a service that is reflective of their religious lives and their commitment to each other.”
“I don’t see it as a civic role, especially in the case of a state that is not extending the same privileges and rights to all adult couples who choose to be joined that way.”
If you’re interested, you can read the entire article at:
A couple of months ago, I had a conversation via telephone with her to make sure that she would be a good fit to preside over our nuptials. Rich and I finally met with her in person just this past weekend, and my initial positive impression was confirmed. We got a little bit more out of the meeting than we expected, which we assumedwould be a simple formality. She asked us a lot of questions, listened intently and gave us some good advice. Most of the details are private, but suffice it to say that she gave us some food for thought. Overall, she seemed really caring and friendly. We both came away from the meeting feeling like we had made a good choice of officiant for our one-and-only wedding.
We’ll be meeting with Rev. Patierno again before the ceremony to talk and go over our vows and other details. As always, I’ll keep you posted!