This past Sunday, I met with my lovely colleague, Lamira Martin, to film wedding rituals in downtown Chicago. Lamira is an instructor at the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, where we both received our certification. She is putting together a film of rituals for the class she teaches to future Celebrants.
We had some difficulty recruiting participants, so I rounded up my family to play as many parts as possible. Lamira's son was kind enough to do the filming and he even provided his two actor friends to participate.
We set up our props inside the Cultural Center, in the gorgeous Tiffany-domed room, Preston Bradley Hall. It's such a stunning place - definitely an incredible venue for a wedding!
It was especially fun telling my kids about the old days, when this building was the main Chicago public library. About 30 years ago, I even used to volunteer here as a book shelver! I can remember many days of being shushed by the librarians here. Good times. But I digress.
So, as we were setting up, I had the idea that maybe we could convince a few passersby to participate in the filming. We had enough grooms in our group, but no brides. So, why not?
My husband took charge and went outside to see if he could find someone to help. To my shock, he came back with a lovely (and patient!) woman named Jenny. She was so gracious and offered to help us, while her husband and their relatives continued walking around. She was such a good sport!
After accosting several other people, including a group of Austrian tourists (I thought I had them when I explained in German what we were doing- but no luck), a nice man named Thomas was willing to help. He was also very patient and willing to do as much as we needed. He was great!
Jenny and Thomas went through several rituals for us, portraying the bride and groom. They were fantastic! In the top photo, they are in character (with me), waiting for their children (mine, actually) to present them with flowers.
Later, we even got Jenny's husband, Tovi, to join in. Here he is (middle photo) with Jenny, participating in the Bell of Truce ritual with Lamira. After this, they stayed for a remembrance ritual. It was very sad. I had to tell him that his character had a lovely aunt and grandmother. And then I broke it to him that they were both deceased. He handled the news very well. In fact, during the remembrance, he bowed his head and was quite somber looking. I was so impressed - until he later told me it was to keep from laughing. That cracked me up!
After our first wonderful volunteers had to move on, we then convinced another woman to participate in filming a handfasting ritual. Jennifer, who was at the Cultural Center with her husband and cousin, roped in her unsuspecting husband, Bruce, to join the fun. We even got them to stay for another ritual, the Earth Blessings which included a Hindu water pouring ritual. Her cousin Tom, visiting from DC, was dragged into the fray, to act as the groom's father. These poor people had no idea what they were in for when they walked into that building!
In the end, we filmed over fifteen different rituals. It was great! The kids were a little tired by the end (bottom photo) but they were troopers. Everyone was wonderful.
We're especially grateful to our gracious volunteers, who were willing to be adventurous and help us out: Thomas, Jenny & Tovi, Jennifer & Bruce, and their friend whose name I neglected to get (sorry).
Thanks for starring in our movie!