I’m going to write about weddings today, I promise, but first a little story.


Once, when I wrote a letter to the editor on a political issue, I got a comment telling me to stay in my lane. The person said I should stick to writing about weddings and shut up about other things. More recently papers have disabled the comment sections – and for good reason!


People have used it to make hateful and even threatening responses. It’s easy to do that when you have a fake ‘handle’ or identity that you can hide behind to spew your prejudice. The internet has given us the best and worst of humanity.


The idea is still prevalent that actors, athletes or other public figures shouldn’t have political voices. Just play ball and shut up. This is so wrong on so many levels. We are all individuals, and because we do one thing publicly doesn’t mean we don’t have views and even a lot of knowledge about other things. The Pocono Record publishes opinion pieces from many people, even those who might lack specific background, knowledge or training on their subject matter. Kudos for that! We all have a voice.


Ironically the person who told me to stay in my lane had no idea how many lanes I’ve been in over my lifetime.


So, yes, I’m allowed to have opinions and feeling on issues besides weddings. I even like to bring some of those views and some of my background in other fields to my work as a celebrant. But I am mindful this must be done with respect, listening to those I’m working with.


When I create ceremonies for same-sex couples I always ask them if they would like some words about their right to marry, something denied for so long. Sometimes I will quote from the rulings that made it legal. That might even be connected to many other forms of discrimination. Of course not everyone wants to do this, but it can be a powerful statement in a ceremony, which is such an important time in one’s life.


Modern couples have many choices for their ceremony from the extremely religious to completely secular, and everything in between. No matter where you fall on that spectrum if you feel strongly about a social issue you can have your values infused into your wedding ceremony, or celebration.


Here are a few suggestions:


Make a statement in your ceremony. For example, have your officiant say that you celebrate your love in freedom and it is your wish that every person has freedom from bigotry, hate, and access to the opportunities you have had in your lives. Or "the couples asks that you honor them by standing up against hate."


Infuse a ritual with symbolism of justice and freedom, or create a community vow where everyone pledges to do more to bring peace and justice to the world. A candle lighting ritual could include words about bringing more light and truth into the world. Add words of support of social justice to a sharing the peace ritual, or butterfly release with words that express how the butterflies carry your values of justice out into the world.


You might ask your guests to make a contribution to a cause you support. Put a note at each place setting at the reception with envelopes to mail or links to your particular issue.


Everyone has a voice. With the heightened awareness of the systemic racism in our society, now is the time to use yours! Take any opportunity you can to speak out, as well as listen and learn, and do something! Help us fulfill our American Dream for every citizen. Why not express that at your wedding?


Lois Heckman is a certified Celebrant officiating in the Poconos and beyond. She writes about creating meaningful weddings, focusing on ceremony, ritual, and diverse traditions. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and website: www.LoisHeckman.com