Premarital Counseling and Officiant Support
We highly recommend that couples work with experienced officiants for their weddings. Rabbis and cantors receive extensive training in how to perform weddings and how to customize them for different couple's needs (including interfaith couples, queer couples, and weddings on Shabbat). They also are trained in premarital counseling which helps couples identify strengths and weaknesses in their relationship before issues snowball and become bigger issues.
That said, according to Jewish law, Jewish weddings do not have to be performed by a rabbi or cantor to be legally binding, they they only have to be done well. We have found that many couples opt, for one reason or another, to have a friend or family member officiate their wedding. While it is easy to get online ordination to perform a wedding (and we do NOT provide this), it is difficult to learn how to learn how to meaningfully officiate a wedding, or to counsel couples they are close to. We offer the following resources to couples getting married without clergy present who would like rabbinic support.
Supporting the Ceremony
Unorthodox Celebrations's founder Rabbi Getzel is offering personalized training and support for those who want to learn how to better lead a Jewish wedding. Consultations cost $150 per hour and are done online or by phone. Rabbi Getzel can help couples or officiants:
Choose an appropriate and meaningful ketubah text
Learn the traditional wedding service script
Consult on how to adapt this form for an individual couple (For feminist, LGBT, interfaith, atheist, or aesthetic reasons).
Spiritual Counseling for Couples
All couples face relationship issues as they plan their wedding. There are new stresses as families of origin test boundaries with the couple. Couples themselves have new challenges to work through in the negotiation, planning, and follow-through of the wedding. Religious differences can come to a head as the couple and their families decide what is important to them in the ceremony itself. It can be very useful to have an experienced guide to check in with through the process and support you in learning from the experience.
It is a difficult to transition from being dating to becoming a family. Some move through this transition quickly, others take their time. In either case, the period of wedding planning is a wonderful opportunity to vision what this transition to family means to both partners, financially, familiarly, religiously, and spiritually. It is a shame to waste the opportunity to vision your life together. Even if you have opted out of having a rabbi perform your ceremony, you might want to speak to one as you plan your life together.
Consultations with Rabbi Getzel cost $150 per hour and usually take a minimum of three meetings.
Rabbi Getzel Davis is the founder of Unorthodox Celebrations and a graduate of Hebrew College's rabbinical and educational schools. He is a Jewish Chaplain at Harvard University and the Chair of University Programming Committee which organizes much of Harvard's interfaith work. Getzel is also the Director of Graduate School Programming at Harvard Hillel and the adviser of its Reform community. He is a Keshet trained Jewish GLBT educator, a certified PREPARE/ENRICH Couples Facilitator and a member of Rabbis Without Boarders. Getzel is also the founder and Executive Director of Unorthodox Celebrations. He loves performing weddings and working with couples. Getzel married his beloved wife Leah almost two years ago in Boston.
Note: Getzel is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist and this work should is not itself and is not a replacement for psychological therapy. Psychiatric counseling may be a better fit if you are struggling with emotional or personality disorders, addictions, or deep family issues, or if you are feeling highly depressed or driven by phobias.