Hi, I’m Hope Mirlis and I have a Zen wedding practice. I officiated my first wedding ceremony in 2009 when a friend asked me to marry her and her boyfriend. Since I was in essence ‘clergy for a day,’ I took my job of wedding ceremony officiant seriously. When an issue reared its head right before the wedding, I told the couple that I would not perform the ceremony until the conflict was on the path to resolution. After an awkward pause, the couple retreated downstairs to begin to begin discussing. After an hour, they re-emerged with smiles on their faces and the small wedding party was on the way to the beach for the ceremony.
I learned much that day. First, that not only was the experience of performing a ceremony powerful, but I was really good at it. Secondly, that if I continued being wedding ceremony officiant, I would strongly encourage some sort of pre-marital counseling.
Many couples jump into marriage without talking about expectations and personal goals. The big questions that you ‘wait until later’ to ask, many times just go unasked, and then unanswered. I encourage couples to talk openly and honestly before the wedding – and with a workshop-style counseling program, I hope I make it easy to do so. Or at least easier to have the difficult conversations. And that’s where the Zen comes in. For me, Zen is a mind and body connection. There is ease and breath. There is awareness and presence. And what could be better paired with a wedding?
Weddings in general are a stressful thing. It’s years of love and months of planning expressed in one day. ONE DAY! Mixed with family dynamics, the need for perfection and countless potential pitfalls, I am anxious just thinking about it! So what can you do?
Take one step at a time. One breath at a time. And most importantly, be present.
I offer a Yoga practice for Weddings. Sometimes it’s for the couple leading up to the wedding, sometimes it’s the morning of the big day with the bridal party. It allows everyone to breathe together, laugh together, play with strength and flexibility and be truly in their bodies. For most, the hectic schedule of the wedding day – with hair & make-up, photographs and getting dressed – does not allow time for yoga. So, I have to bring that sense of grounding and ease to the ceremony.
I specialize in custom ceremonies that really tell the couple’s story. They can be funny or traditional, religious or sentimental depending on the couple. However my true strength is my presence. First off, as wedding ceremony officiant, I make sure the community of friends and family feels welcome. Then I ensure that the couple speaks AND listens from their heart. Whether that means I go off-script and check-in with couple during the ceremony or put my hand on one of their backs when they get emotional during the vows. It’s important that we experience this ritual together and we know what we’re celebrating.
Just in case you were wondering, that first couple is indeed still married, they worked out many of their issues soon into their marriage and they added a child to their beautiful family just over 4 years ago! For me, I continue to love what I do and I am honored to be with some amazing couples on their journey towards wedded bliss through yoga, counseling and being their wedding ceremony officiant. Together we take one step at a time, one breath at a time. And most importantly, stay present.
Find out more about Hope and her Zen wedding practice at perfectunionny.com
Hope’s Facebook page: facebook.com/PerfectUnionNY
Photo by Kamila Harris