Brett, Rovan, And Jim at Chase Court Photographs courtesy of John Jiao Photography

Brett, Rovan, And Jim at Chase Court Photographs courtesy of John Jiao Photography

The Rev. Rovan Wernsdorfer in wedding at Engineer's Club in Baltimore.

The Rev. Rovan Wernsdorfer in wedding at Engineer’s Club in Baltimore.

You are a minister.  Will you do secular weddings?

Of course!  Both the Episcopal Church of my heritage and the Church of Universal Ministries, under whose authority I would preside at your wedding, do not believe that any one person or human institution has a monopoly on truth or morality.  If you and your mate have freely chosen each other, are confident you truly love one another, and pledge yourselves to a faithful life-long relationship, then that, in my estimation, is blessing enough for us all.  I am happy to help you celebrate that blessing by presiding at your wedding, recognizing that we all should be trying to live life according to our best understandings, while drawing on the wisdom of those who have come before us. 

Will you marry same-sex couples?

After having lived with my late male partner for 12 years when gay marriage was not legal, it will always be my special delight to preside at the wedding of any two women or two men – or anyone from the LGBT community – who can now affirm their love publicly and be recognized by the State as married.

Are you comfortable with inter-racial, inter-religious, and multi-cultural relationships?

The answer to this question is an enthusiastic “Yes!”  I would be pleased to help you design a ceremony that honors the different traditions you are bringing to your marriage.  As a youth I was raised as a Christian in a community that was largely Jewish.  As an adult, I have lived my life in close association with the African-American community.  My late male partner of 12 years was African American.  In addition to my two white biological children, I have an adopted African American son.  Furthermore, I have traveled extensively in the world and lived abroad, spending significant time in both Viet Nam and Brazil.  I have learned to appreciate all the wonderful varieties of culture, religions, and peoples.  In this tribalistic world, marriages that involve mixed races, religions, and/or cultures can have their own special challenges.  But they also have their own special delights.

If one or both of us is bringing children into a new marriage, can they be included in the ceremony?

I would almost insist on trying.  When death or – more often – divorce move children away from their biological parents and towards intimate relationships with “new” parents, it can be very distressing for the children.  Whatever other support they may be receiving for this transition, having them participate willingly in the wedding ceremony can be one small part of helping them make a healthy adjustment.  My preference would be to meet with them as well prior to the ceremony.

What would you wear at our ceremony?

I can wear a long white clergy garment called an “alb” together with a stole.  If you do not wish religious symbolism in your ceremony, I will wear a dark blue suit and tie (or, as might be appropriate in the summer, a light suit.)  Whenever I wear a stole, it can be used as part of a hand-fasting ritual. At the end of the ceremony, when I am pronouncing the bride and groom as now “husband and wife,” (or something else appropriate)  I can wrap one end of the stole around the hands of the newly married couple as I do so.

Is it possible during our wedding to honor relatives or other family members who for reasons of death, illness or distance cannot be present at the ceremony?

In a society in which families are so often geographically scattered, this is a recognized need.  We can use candles or have mementos present or read letters or find other ways to link to and name absent loved ones.  Having the bride wear some part of her mother’s or even grandmother’s wedding dress or jewelry is a long-standing tradition that reminds us that this is not a new idea.

What happens if, between the signing of the contract and our wedding date, you have an emergency or become incapacitated or otherwise cannot officiate at our wedding?

In the unlikely event of such an emergency, I work with other experienced and highly capable wedding officiants who would be able to back me up and allow your wedding to go forward.  This is standard practice among wedding officiants.  You will be taken care of!