To Begin With Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Poet Mary Oliver






To Begin With, The Sweet Grass by Mary Oliver

Evidence, 2009



Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat

of the sweet grass?

Will the owl bite off its own wings?

Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or

forget to sing?

Will the rivers run upstream?


Behold, I say—behold

the reliability and the finery and the teachings

            of this gritty earth gift.



Eat bread and understand comfort.

Drink water, and understand delight.

Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets

            are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds

who are drinking the sweetness, who are

            thrilling gluttonous.


For one thing leads to another.

Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.

Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.


And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star

both intimate and ultimate,

and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:

oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two

beautiful bodies of your lungs



The witchery of living

is my whole conversation

with you my darlings.

All I can tell you is what I know.


Look, and look again.

This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.


It’s more than bones.

It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.

It’s more than the beating of the single heart.

It’s praising.

It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.

You have a life—just imagine that!

You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe still another.



Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,

the dancer, the potter,

to make mem a begging bowl

which I believe

my soul needs.


And if I come to you,

to the door of your comfortable house

with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,

will you put something into it?


I would like to take this chance.

I would like to give you this chance.



We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we


Congratulations, if

            you have changed.



Let me ask you this.

Do you also think that beauty exists for some

            fabulous reason?


And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure—

            your life –

what would do for you?



What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.

Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.

That was many years ago.

Since then I have gone out from my confinements,

            though with difficulty.


I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.

I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.

They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment

            somehow or another).


And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.

I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.

I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,

I have become younger.


And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.


Enjoy! To connect with me, please fill out our Contact Form or to return to the Home Page, click here.

You’re Nervous Standing in Front?

Meditating so you're not nervous standing in front of people

Nervous standing in front of peopleHow many of us do you believe DON’T get nervous standing in front of people? Professional speakers? Teachers? 

Can you repeat after me: “I shall not place anyone on a pedestal.”

Being in the public eye

Many couples tell me they’re really nervous about their wedding because they intensely dislike being in the public eye.

So okay. I get that. I’m so used standing in front of people to make a presentation that I AM used to it. But the “IT” is being nervous. It’s not that it doesn’t happen, but I’ve learned to manage the nervousness. 

I appreciate you reminding me of that fact so I don’t get you to do some crazy dance in front of everyone at your ceremony.

Kidding — really — well, it could be fun… but no. I won’t ask.

Flashbacks of other times

Yep, that’s how my mind works, flitting from one thing to the other. And when you’re nervous, that’s what your mind is doing too. Your overactive brain is jumping between thoughts of  looking gorgeous, all the decisions that had to be made to get you to this point, probably a flashback or two to when you first met the person you’re about to marry, and wondering if everyone is going to like your wedding gown or how you look in your tux. 

Flitting is fodder for nervousness. So here’s an early key:  focus. Learn to meditate sooner than later?

If you’re having a very small, intimate ceremony, you might not be QUITE as nervous. In my experience, the number of people in attendance doesn’t matter. Large and fancy, small and simple — either way, people get nervous.

The Nervous Elephant in the Room

Least I forget the elephant in the room, you’d be abnormal if the obvious — “am I making the right decision by marrying this person?” wasn’t also flitting across your mind. Let’s talk about that more below. And I wrote this about making decisions and questioning them. Make the Choice.

Two Things to Ease Being Nervous Standing in Front of People

I ask my couples to do two things when we begin their ceremony to help them handle being nervous standing in front of people:

  1. Face me for the beginning of their marriage ritual
  2. Act like you know each other so hold hands, stand arm in arm, etc.

Facing me helps them put their focus on me and move forward with the event. This begins to take their attention off of the people staring at their backs and release some of the mind flitting that’s taking place about things that are immediately beyond their control.

Result:  Nervousness gets distracted

Holding hands or touching somehow lets my couple lean on each other and in fact, it’s a memory they’ll always have. Those supportive touches during their ceremony can go a long way!

Result:  Nervousness is shared and distracted.

A great idea gone bad

I remember one wedding I’d just read something by another Officiant who asked her couples to turn around and face all their friends when the ceremony started. The point was for them to see how many folks were there to support them. It sounded like a great idea, an act that would show the couple how safe they were surrounded by friends.

But that was not what happened when I tried it on Jill and Jack. They got super-strained looks on their faces. Their bodies noticeably stiffened. 

I should have asked their permission before I asked them to do that, but it was an impromptu moment which fell flat. 

Needless to say, I don’t ask couples to do that anymore unless they’re prepared ahead of time and okay it. 

Acceptance is still the key

Now that you REALLY trust my judgment let’s just say for the record, that the best way to overcome nervousness is to accept that you’re going to get nervous. Acceptance is the key to working through almost anything. Why does it work? Because it changes the energy from being totally grounded in fear to being more in control of the fear. 

Then doing little things like facing your officiant and touching each other are small acts of kindness to each other that offset the discomfort of being nervous standing in front of people. 

And here’s a few more tips rolled into one about being nervous standing in front of friends, family and the occasional stranger: being jittery is not the end of the world. You can handle it, trust yourself. The feeling will go away, eventually. Keep your knees bent, and take deep breaths. Remember to take deep inhales and exhales. Practice now reminding yourself to touch, breath, bend, focus. That’s it! See, you can do this!!

The Elephant is Still Here

What about questioning your decision to marry this person you’ll be meeting down the aisle. How could you not wonder about that? You don’t have to dwell on it. You don’t have to shove it away. You don’t have to let that question incapacitate you.  But you DO HAVE TO GET A HANDLE ON YOUR ANSWER. 

If you question whether this person is right for you, you need to stop.

It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve shelled out.

If you’re NOT SURE, if your feelings of nervousness are way out of proportion, then you may indeed be getting signals from your Inner Self that you may be marrying the wrong person.

In that case,  do not take one more step forward. You’re going to spend a lot more money disentangling yourself through divorces, therapy and paying someone to help you move, not to mention buying all those mind altering substances you might be inclined to take comfort in. 

You Can Handle It

But the truth is, whatever happens, whether this nervousness about your decision, allowing yourself to ask that question is not only normal, but it can also point to this response to ANY NERVOUSNESS. Which is YOU CAN HANDLE WHATEVER HAPPENS, including being insanely happy. 

You’re bound to grow in love. Love also takes a dip down and around and even disappears sometimes. But you can handle these ebbs and flows. Maybe you need to talk it through with someone. Maybe you need to take an extra few hours to settle yourself. Maybe you need to let everyone party and come back to your yes or no with a small, inexpensive ceremony in a month or two. 

Trust Yourself

Trust yourself. Trust the heart of Love that brought you together because it’s Love’s nature to point you to the source of Love within yourself.  Knowing Love is within you means it can never be taken from you by death, disaster, illness, betrayal. Or being nervous standing in front of people (the latter which seems like a small thing when propped up against those biggies like death and disaster).

Last but not least: if you want to get the energy of nervousness out and away, just send me an email and we’ll figure out how to proceed from there. Or pop into my Facebook page, Michigan Wedding Officiants and see what support info is there for you. There’s lots.

Being nervous is small when compared to the underlying Love that’s within you. 


Rev Crystal


What to Look for When You’re Exploring Venues

exploring venues
Exploring Venues in Northern Michigan

Lawn weddings at Jolly Pumpkin on Old Mission Peninsula

Exploring Venues

After “Yes, I’ll marry you,” is spoken, a list of to do’s begins to pile up in your head. One of the first is choosing a site to hold your ceremony, and often, hold your reception afterwards. You are on your way to exploring venues. 

From vineyards to barns, beaches to forests, art galleries to VFW halls, the area I live in is abundant with beautiful venues and wedding sites. Being an Officiant in Northern Michigan means I’m always surrounded by great beauty. 

A First Time Site

Every year I get to go to another location I’ve never been to before. Like last year I led a wedding at Flower Basket Farm in Omena. What a fun site! This year I went deep into a woods that was part of a new vineyard in Leelanau Peninsula. My couple had set up the first wedding site within that woods that if I hadn’t had a Subaru, I’m not sure I would have made it up hills and through the ruts in the road. 

It was great fun! But it did have some challenges not every set of family or friends may appreciate.

I will say this couple in particular had a fairly young group of people at their wedding. The elders among us (me included) loved this couple enough to travel far up the Leelanau Peninsula and down country roads, in and out.

What to Keep in Mind When Exploring Venues

But it doesn’t hurt to keep a few things in mind if you’re a  newly engaged couple out exploring venues. If you look with open eyes, you’ll set things up in advance so it’s a fun and wonderful experience for young and old alike.

  • Consider the ease with which people can get from their car to the ceremony site.
    • If the site is hilly, encourage people to come casual. Make it fun to “ditch the heels”.
    • For sandy areas, make being barefoot the requested dress, or encourage flip flops, wedges and flats.
    • Without a hard surface to walk on, suggest women not come able to aerate the soil by poking holes in the ground with their high heels. 
  • How out of the way is the venue?
    • Make sure everyone has detailed directions and when possible, a link to Google Maps. 
    • Signs to your wedding site can be fun, creative and helpful. Appoint someone trustworthy to put them out the night before and take them up the night of the wedding or early the next day. Check the local sign restriction ordinances
  • What will the heat and wind factor be like at the time of your wedding?
    • Early weddings may be cooler. Warm guests in advance it may be chilly, even mid-summer in northern states 
    • Mid-day weddings can get hot. If you have a program consider printing it on hand fan. If not, make jugs of ice water available. (try to stay away from bottled water).
    • Wind can affect interference with the microphone. The closer your site is to the water or the higher up, wind can create a problem.
  • The season you choose your site affects how many people will be there when your wedding is in real time. 
    • If you visit your site in the winter, ask locals how many people are at your site during the season you’re getting married in
    • On the beach consider wave-runners, boats and swimmers who may be in the area and not aware of your wedding. Consider putting signs out that a wedding is in progress and quiet is appreciated.

The Benefit of Having A Coordinator

These are a few of the situations I’ve noticed the most during the 28 years I’ve been traveling across northern Michigan. I’m sure there’s more. One thing that might be really helpful is to have a wedding coordinator from the area help advise you about these types of issues. Don’t hesitate to ask the venue coordinator for advice.

Any area that you choose can be made into an adventure. Preparing your guests in advance by making it fun, and being clear as possible will set this up for you to have the best time at your wedding. 

If you’re in the Traverse City area, here’s a little guide I put together that lists some local venues and beaches to hold your wedding at.Sites and Venues

Your Happily Ever After

Enjoy yourself, your day, your love. Make sure you take your guests needs and abilities into considerations as much as you choose your wedding site for how it makes you feel. When you go exploring wedding venues, you’re looking for the backdrop to your happily ever after. 

Above all else, make sure your wedding site feels right to you. 

I wish you well today and especially on the day you’ll be starting on your way to forever together.  

Rev. Crystal

Looking for an Officiant? Be sure to fill out our CONTACT US form to request a no obligation chat!

What’s the Difference Between Officiants?

Difference between Officiants
Difference between Officiants

Leigh and James

What’s the Difference Between Officiants?

If you’re answering the question, “What’s the difference between officiants?” it starts with the range of beliefs and values that varies from officiant to officiant. Each of us do what we do for our own reasons.

There’s those who were asked to lead a friend or family member’s wedding and said, however reluctantly or excitedly, “Yes!” (If that’s up your alley, see my program for new officiants).

How Some of Us Came to the Profession

Some of us came into marrying people because of church affiliation and it was part of our job. Others are looking to create additional income because the field of marrying people is wide open to anyone thanks to the Universal Life Church’s court action for religious freedom. Other officiants have a love of being part of a couple’s special day, and still other’s are true hams who love being in front of people.

To be clear, I can be ham, but I set out to use humor appropriately.  I always ask my couple if it’s okay if I loosen things up / use humor. I’ve done a few weddings where it was clear from the beginning that the bits of wit I threw in were falling flat, so I stopped being funny and stuck with the plan (even with the couple’s permission to be funny.)

I can’t negate that I am an Officiant to make a living for myself which can be cause for some disapproval. This is due to the stigma that still accompanies some beliefs that being an Officiant is a religious profession and you should do it for free. Or super cheap.

Officiating for me is done in love in exchange for creating and wonderful and meaningful experience for my couple as they promise to love each other for as long as they both shall live. If I had a congregation who generously supported me lower fees might be an option.

But I don’t have a congregation so I get to offer my brand of officiating and the right people come to me.

In any profession there’s always going to be people who want to and probably need to, make a quick buck. Just like there’s always going to be couples who don’t want to do anything other than exchange vows. Others not only want to create an event, but they see the value of being part of a CEREMONIAL event which is more than a simple exchange of traditional wedding vows.

Defining A Wedding Ceremony’s Purpose

Here’s what I think a wedding ceremony is all about:

  1. Engages an invisible power that moves through a couple’s commitment
  2. Taps into the desires that brings two people together in the first place
  3. Leads them to their willingness to promise a forever bond to one another.
  4. Sets the stage for two people to publicly profess their love for one another
  5. Orders the step-by-step course of action that results in validating a legal contract between two consenting adults

Officiant Role Defined According to Rev Crystal Yarlott

This is how I define my role as an Officiant:

An Officiant can think on her or his feet and improvise, go with the flow and know when to stick with the plan and when not to. An Officiant’s responsibility it to keep the ceremony moving towards that momentous kiss and pronouncement that seals their commitment and continually hold sacred space for the importance of the couple’s love, all while staying in the background.

Magic Moments

I love what I do as an Officiant. There’s been so many magic moments in the ceremonial experiences I get to participate in with my couples that I’m continually grateful for the opportunity AND the authority to participate in two people committing to one another.

Honored by My Couple’s Trust

When I’m hired, I am honored by their trust in me to convey what’s meaningful to them, to have fun and set the romantic, celebratory tone for the day.

Loving what you do because you are focused on people’s love for each other is fabulous.

What could be better than that in life?

Here’s to your happiness,

Rev. Crystal



Your Friendiant- Pluses & Minuses

Are you looking for a professional Officiant? Or do you have a Friendiant?  Here are some minuses — and pluses of the latter!

friend officiant at Homestead ResortFirst of all, let me cut to the chase. Don’t make this event — your wedding ceremony — TOO CASUAL. As a culture, a society, we’re definitely moving into a time of challenging norms and reinventing roles. But there are some norms that deserve preserving (wow a rhyme!) One of them is the brevity (and yes, of course, the joy) of the event.

By the way, a Friendiant is a friend or family member who’s been asked to take on the role and responsibilities a professional officiant is usually hired to do.

There is a responsibility taking place via your ceremony that is going to sign you up (literally and figuratively) for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Make sure the friend Officiant you choose knows this is a responsibility. Make sure she or he will treat this event with a loving hand but at the same time, a respectful hand.

To Party or Not to Party

For example, it’s too casual a relationship with your ceremony if your chosen / friend Officiant is partying with you beforehand. Especially they should not be drinking with you and just hanging out prior to the ceremony taking place. They have tasks to do (see below) that they’re responsible for. Make sure they know you expect them to be the host, the director of your ceremony and they need to have it together

Getting to the Site EARLY

While you hope everything is in place, there are plenty of reasons things might not be coordinated but can be handled before the ceremony so everything IS together. Your Officiant should arrive at the wedding site at least half an hour ahead of time. That way he or she has time to

  1. Connect with the venue coordinator or wedding planner.
  2. Check in with the photographer or musicians about any requirements he or she might have and vice versa
  3. Check out the exact place where you’ll be standing together as you share your vows. Are the chairs close enough to where your Officiant stand with you so your guests can hear?
  4. Do a sound check to make sure the sound carries well or that the microphone has been set up properly.
  5. Also make sure there’s a microphone for any readers if needed
  6. Make sure everything that is needed for any special ceremony you want to participate in is there (the Wine Box or Sand ceremony elements, a table to put them on).
  7. There’s always more details to take care of last minute than you’d expect. Sometimes it’s the officiant who’s the only one to catch what’s missing and can get the ball rolling to put everything together last minute!

A Team Effort

Remember, your wedding ceremony is a team effort. If your friend or family member doesn’t take it seriously, the other professional people who are there to do their jobs can’t do their work as well either. Everything is connected on your wedding day so each person has to do his or her part.

The Big Plus

Your friend or family member knows you. They may know you too well — but your connection is the big plus that no matter how much a profession Officiant like myself can bridge the gap between knowing and getting to know you. Yet be careful — such knowledge is NOT a guarantee things will go well beyond your shared familiarity.

You can avoid many mistakes if you make sure, really sure, your friend or relative knows they are the conductor of the whole ceremony, not just the sharer of a few words, meaningful and fun-filled as they may be.

Insuring Your Officiant is Ready, Willing and Able

If your new Officiant friend or family member needs help understanding all the ins and outs of conducting as well as delivering a wedding ceremony, have them check out the very helpful Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Training program. The RW&A program is a very affordable, easily accessible program of 7 lessons that are delivered within a week. They’ll get the basics of how to run a ceremony, how to stay organized (like a great checklist to make sure they have everything covered when they get to your wedding site early), even ways to elicit and enhance the stories they have about you that will make your ceremony uniquely your love story. 

Every couple and every Officiant deserves to create great memories they’ll always value. You of course, deserve this too. 


Rev Crystal


Rev Crystal has been officiating weddings as a professional since 1990. She loves doing weddings (and comes highly recommended) and wants to make sure your officiant loves doing YOUR wedding. Find out more about her on her “Meet Rev. Crystal” page.

Little Love Teachers



(You can listen to Rev Crystal read this blog post and multitask to your heart’s content!)

What’s the single most wonderful thing about having children? Narrowing it down to one characteristic might be pretty difficult, but let’s give it a go anyway. I’ve never had children so I’m asking you what you think.

My first guess is they are little love teachers.

Bring Out the Softness

Alicia explained how her young daughter is a comfort to her as she adjusts to the passing on of  her grandmother she was so close to. Her son will tell her out of the blue, “Mama, you are so beautiful” in his cute little four-year old voice. These are the kinds of endearing moments that lodge in our hearts. Children can bring out the softness we’ve learned to hide because of our learned responses to people and circumstances. Our kids can remind us to open up and it has nothing to do with money or status, drive or goals.

They’re simple. Unassuming. Innocent.

Loving the Little Things

Jamie, one of my first northern Michigan brides is now a wonderful mom. When I asked her what she loved about her children, she said, “I love the little things. The look of awe every time they see an airplane. The ‘leg hugs’ [that come] out of nowhere while I’m folding laundry. The belly laughs when something so simple (to us) is just too funny. It’s all of the little memories and the way they look at you when they’re proud of themselves and look to make sure you saw them.”

As a parent you have the privilege and presence to enjoy these little teachers running around your house. They remind you what it’s like to be in the moment and how important that state of mind is.

Four-Legged Teachers

The closest I’ve come to the kind of love you must feel for your children is with my surrogate children, my two dogs and Millie my copper-eyed black cat.

Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re dogs which I expressly realize whenever they get their noses right on “smelly yucky substances” shall we say? But they’ve taught me over and over about being in the moment, and getting over myself.

I remember when I was still the minister at Unity of Traverse City. One of the board members thought she’d be a better minister than I was and was actively trying to take over. Whenever she visited the church, my soul dog, Clarissa, would still go running up to her, wag her tail, and be super excited to see her. She didn’t know or care that we were having serious disagreements. Dang pooch. She was supposed to be on MY side!

Actually she was on my side, the side being in the moment. Some call this forgiveness. Whatever you or I want to call it, I forget about the beauty of being present, simple, innocent when I’m into being right.

What Can We Ask Ourself to Snap Back Into the Moment?

Or is it as simple as shaking ourself with a slap to our sweet face?

Is there any question we can ask our self that would help bring us back to a state of innocence when we forget how much being open can improve our life? In the throws of being right, OMG, I can feel like a Mack truck barreling down a Kentucky mountainside and it’s hard to stop the momentum.

What comes to me is, do I want to be remembered for this moment? Speaking in this tone of voice? With this distraction on my mind saying THESE words? Is this look in my eyes conducive to joy? Is there something in my gut that’s urging me to see differently?


You have your children to remind you. But do you have something else you use to remind you? If so, will you share it with me? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Opening Up Outweighs the Challenges

For those of you who are parents congrats that you have such wonderful teachers by your side day after day. I’m sure they have their moments of really trying your patience, and you may regret some days that you don’t have the freedom you used to have. However, I’m betting the opening up you do outweighs the challenges.

Ah yes, our little love teachers. Our furry-four legged teachers of presence.

We are learning.

I’ll talk about growing and learning together the next time you hear from me. Please feel free to contact me at any time. Email, text, comment.

Love to you!!

Rev Crystal

Image courtesy of imagerymagestic at

If you didn’t watch the TED talk I sent you last time, here’s the talk again. 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

Don’t Let Regret Ruin Your Future


Every morning I go through the same ritual. I write what I appreciate, evidence of what’s going well, 5 things I need to do that day, and how I want to show up (energetic, loving, smart, prosperous, etc). Then I write out what I want my life to look like, kinda like my personal screen play.

In addition, since my mother passed on in December of 2017, I choose a card from The Soul’s Journey Lesson Cards by James Van Praagh (JVP). JVP communicates with those who have passed on. I like to think because James is tuned into spirits, Mom in her current spirit body helps me draw that day’s card.

These Soul Cards, unlike Tarot or Green Man, etc., convey quite a positive message, no matter how negative it may at first appear.

1, 2, 3 Times Better Pay Attention

Well, you know when something happens once and it passes in and out of your radar without much import? Twice your ears perk up a tad? But 3 times you know something is trying to get your attention?

Yes? This morning when I picked my JVP card, for the third time IN A ROW, it was the dull red card, Regret.

Pay attention Ms Crys.

The Regret card is partially explained: “Focusing on the past and letting it dictate the direction of your future is taking your power away from yourself. You are the creator. You hold the power. Reflect on the lessons of the past and use your current power to create your bright future.”

I never thought of myself as being particularly regretful. What could the reason be that I drew this card out of 43 others every morning for the past three days?

Loving Someone Dearly and Incompletely

What first came to me is my mom had Alzheimer’s. No walk in the park for sure. She challenged my ability to love her. I got upset, short-tempered, intolerant. But I came to realize the lack of love I felt so many times was not about her, but more about my not loving myself. I hated being so impatient with her incessant repetitions and mood swings. I’d blame my upset with her on the disease, on time, on medical science for not coming up with a cure. I blamed it on mom not taking better care of herself. And truthfully, I also blamed myself because I wasn’t stronger, more able to handle the roller coaster ride that comes with loving someone with Alzheimer’s.

Biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time with her just loving her.

Truth be told, there’s never enough time when we’re out of it.

Yesterday Takes a Toll on Our Future

Regret has been unconsciously sucking the life out of me. It was impacting my today and that meant it could really take a toll on my future.

How about you? Any regrets?

All Things Work Together for Good — Really?

Thankfully regret has a gift to give. It’s that judging anyone, self or others, is seeing the small picture as made up of put black or white images, and feels either good or bad. The larger picture is there’s a present contained within regret.

For example, I made the judgment that I didn’t spend more time with Mom, and that was bad. Black and white: you either love all the time or you don’t. No grey areas such as I did the best I could to spend time with her, AND love her.

Paul said in Romans, “…Know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”* Sometimes it just takes time for things to work themselves out.

Any decision, shortcoming, lack of any kind, can work together for good if we let it.  Maybe they aren’t as bad as we think they are. They may show us how to reframe a perception into a “wait and see” or force us to look for the bright side of an issue. Regrets feel bad and feeling bad is no fun AT ALL. Why would I / we continue to settle for feeling bad about the past. What good comes from it?

All We Have is this Hokey Overused Statement

Regrets will sweep the life out of us if we spend much time in that negative and draining space for long. Perhaps this sounds really hokey/ trite/ overused, but it’s still true: All we have is right now. Our now is creating our future.

Now is the moment we can recreate a revitalized relationship with someone we love. Whether they’re here on the planet with us or not. That re-creation comes from reframing judgment with the opportunity to know all things are working together for good.

New Commitments

My commitment is to stop the energy of regret ASAP. Instead I choose to feel grateful for every minute we DID spent together. I’m taking the ache of missing her and letting it become sincere appreciation that she trusted me enough to become as vulnerable and dependent on me as she did. And that I was able to handle watching her die, hold her hand hours on end and give her hundreds of kisses and I love you’s before she made her transition.

No regrets. Just moving forward. Creating a new tomorrow based on appreciation for what’s come before. I hope you’ll do the same.

And hey, we’ll see what tomorrow’s card may be. I’ll let you know!

Lots of love,

Rev. Crystal


I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

If you’d like the Soul’s Journey cards for yourself, I’d appreciate it if you’d check them out by clicking this link. Thanks!


Blessing Of the Rings

Exchanging wedding rings is one of the highlights if not THE highlight of a wedding ceremony. Here are ways to convey the meaning of the rings’ symbolism.


Community Blessing of the Wedding Rings

There’s a number of great ways to include guests in the blessing of the couple’s rings.

Option 1: As the ceremony begins, have the wedding rings in a pouch easily and tightly closed at the top. The Officiant will announce the rings are being passed around for each guest to silently bless. Have one of the Attendants begin passing the rings around. Have an Attendant from the other partner collect the rings when it’s time for the couple to exchange rings.

Option 2: When it’s time for the ring exchange, add this:

Officiant: As I hold these rings I invite all here to send a silent blessing to the two of you, to be imparted into your rings and to remind you of the community of people who have pledged you their support and encouragement in the days and years ahead of you.

Blessing 1

Let these wedding rings made of precious metals remind you every day of the strength and durability of your relationship.

Blessing 2

May these rings remind you that your love, like the sun, warms all that it touches, like the moon, brightens up the night, like the eye, is a gateway to your innermost soul. And your love, like the arms that embrace you, makes everything right with the world.

Blessing 3

May the vows and promises you have made today be as ever-present in your hearts as these wedding rings are on your fingers.

Blessing 4

May these wedding rings be a reminder to BRIDE and GROOM of the commitment they have made today and be as a testimony to all the world of their devotion in marriage.

Blessing 5

Wear these rings as the enclosing bond of reverence and trust. Fulfill the circle of love that now makes you one.

Blessing 6

A circle is the symbol of the Sun, and the Earth, and the Universe. Your wedding rings are a symbol of holiness, and of perfection, and of peace. They are also the symbol of that which has no beginning and no end. And in this moment, Bride and Groom choose them to also be a symbol of unity, but not of possession, of joining, but not of restricting; of togetherness, but not of entrapment. For true love cannot be possessed, nor can it be restricted.

Blessing 7

Your wedding rings are the chaste and changeless symbol of your evermore pure and unending affection.

Blessing 8

May your wedding rings be blessed as the symbol of your affection and unity. Your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle.

Wherever you go, may you always return to one another in your togetherness.

Seek and find in each other the love for which all people yearn. May you grow in understanding and in compassion.

May the home, which you build together, be such a place of sanctuary that many will find there a friend.

May these rings, on your fingers, symbolize the touch of the spirit of love in your heart.

Ritual of Unity — Sand Ceremony

Traditional Ritual of Unity

A traditional ritual of unity is the Candle Lighting Ceremony used in many weddings. The lighting of two candles represents the individual light of each person. The couple lights one large pillar with their individual candles to represent their coming together in one light. However, when a ceremony is held outdoors, wind can be unpredictable. Candles can be easily blown out.

No Lights Out

A Unity Sand Ceremony can take place regardless of the wind or weather. Because Sand is such a flexible medium a couple isn’t faced with the question, “Does this mean the light in our marriage will go out?”

So the Sand Ceremony is a very cool contemporary ritual that offers the same type of symbolism as the Candle Lighting Ceremony, but without the “risk” of lights out.

Ritual of Unity

The Sand Ceremony begins with the bride and groom pouring a smaller vial of sand together into the central vessel. The bride/partner1 is represented by one color, the groom/partner2. If a couple has two favorite beaches, often the sand is different color. Anyone can distinguish which sand reps whom by mixing a bit of colored sand in with the examples from each beach.

When the sand is poured together, it’s a ritual of unity. The mingling of the sands is represented by two individuals bringing together their past, their hopes and dreams, and all the influences that have brought them to their wedding day. The Ceremony’s script also includes joining together the influences of their separate family and friends. The many individual grains of sand combined is a meaningful representation of both individuals’ life coming together as one because of the bride and groom’s marriage.

There are many places in your ceremony that the Unity Sand Ceremony fits well, although I usually use it after the couple shares their vows.

From our Unity Sand Ceremony text~

“Your marriage not only joins you together as a couple, it also joins your two families together in very unique and special relationships. In this bond, each of you may share many experiences as if you were one person. You will share celebrations and times of loss and grief. While you will share life’s unfoldment together, you never loose your own identity. The miracle of love is that it allows us to overcome any sense of isolation. Yet love continues to permit you your individuality.northern michigan wedding officiants

“The two colors of sand symbolize your separate lives and your separate families that you bring here today. As you merge your sand into the one you indicate your desire for your lives, and the lives of your families and friends to be joined as one. I ask that you each take your sand and then pour it into the large single container.

[Sand is poured]

“We know that it is the wish of each of us here, that you will continuously blend your families with love, sharing and happiness, so that there will always be light and joy, peace and harmony in all of your hearts and in all of your homes.

Check out Rev Crystal’s blog on the Sand Ceremony.


A nice touch is to use sand for your wedding ceremony from your favorite beaches, such as Sleeping Bear Dunes Shoreline, any Traverse City beach, Old Mission Peninsula, Lake Michigan, Crystal, Glen or Long Lakes, Higgins or Houghton, Lake Superior, etc.

There are many sources for Sand Ceremony kits on the internet. Also try Michaels.

First Look Pros and Cons


A First Look 

The First Look is a scheduled time for a couple to see each other all put together and ready prior to the ceremony taking place. First Looks are a break from tradition, and you have to weigh the pros and the cons. Before deciding if you want to take this unconventional break, consider these do’s and don’ts.

An Intimate Moment Together Alone

The wedding day is filled with moments…being walked down the aisle…exchanging rings…dances…speeches… hugs and kisses…and everyone who attends your wedding will want time with you. You may wave at your new spouse from across the room more often than you are together! The events within your Event adds up quickly then you realize suddenly the day is over.

A First Look with your one-and-only will allow for a genuine moment with just the two of you. A moment to say something special, exchange gifts or just gaze into the eyes of your future spouse.

If you want help picking the location, your wedding coordinator or your photography team can find the perfect location for your First Look and let the moment happen between you.

Get Your Emotions in Check

When all of the planning and preparations are finished, your emotions can be overwhelming. Enjoying a First Look with the one you love truly helps to get the jitters out and allows you both to have a more relaxed and comfortable day.

You’ll Have More Pictures Together

A First Look is one more opportunity to capture those light airy romantic images that you want in your wedding album. The more choices the better! You may even have more opportunities to utilize different areas on the venue’s property by doing a First Look in one spot and Bride and Groom formals in another location.

A First Look May Help You Relax

A First Look means you may be less likely to fight the clock! In a typical wedding timeline you have to sign your  marriage license and finish paying your vendors (If you haven’t already). The cocktail hour is the only time to photograph your bridal party (unless you are pulled from the reception for your photos). Pictures are a big part of your memories so they’re very important to get done and be done right. Check out the photographers I recommend here in northern Michigan.

The Cocktail Hour Formals timeline generally looks something like this:

a) Family Portraits (20 minutes)

b) Bridal Party Formals (15 minutes)

c) Bride and Groom Formals (20 minutes)

A First Look timeline allows looks more like this:

a) First Look and Bride and Groom Formals (45 minutes)

b) Bridal Party Formals (30 minutes)

c) Ceremony

d) Family Portraits (30 minutes)

e) Additional Bride & Groom formals (15 minutes)

f) Bride and Groom banquet room viewing (10 minutes)

5. You May Attend Your Cocktail Hour

Staging a First Look means that most formal photographs happen earlier in the day, allowing for a more relaxed timeline which means that you may attend a portion of your cocktail hour with your guests or arrange a private cocktail hour with your bridal party!

The First Magic of Your Wedding Ceremony Changes

Ask friends and family who got married without having a First Look. Many will say there was nothing as touching as one partner seeing the other walk down the aisle — seeing that person in all of his or her wedding finery is awesome. As an observer, I love seeing the look on the Groom’s face when he sees his partner for the first time especially if they haven’t been together since the day before.

The choice to do a First Look comes down to your personal choice. There is no right or wrong, so make sure you have your day go as YOU prefer. The memories of your wedding ceremony and wedding day will sustain you for a lifetime.


Thank you to Palm Beach Photography for some of the ideas in this blog post.

Website Design and Development by Pro Web Marketing
© images provided by Dan Stewart of