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A Conversation with Wedding Officiant Amanda Tarling
July 5th, 2016
We are so excited to have Wedding Officiant Amanda Tarling oversee our upcoming imitation LGBTQ2 wedding and help illuminate new ways for our members to serve this community better. Amanda is new to WoW, so we asked her share a little bit more about herself and her experiences. Keep reading for a little inspiration, and see you on July 12!
I have been creating rituals for people since I wrote and led a blessingway for a friend who was having a baby in 1997. I am passionate about all rites of passage. I have had the pleasure of officiating at hundreds of weddings and over 100 other ceremonies, such as baby namings, croning ceremonies, memorials and celebrations of life for people and pets. I have helped to create rituals for when a family member is dying, and I have also created house blessing rituals and retirement ceremonies. I love ritual so much that I created The Ceremonies Project – a website totally devoted to helping people bring ritual back into their lives.
I am a Unitarian Lay Chaplain, however I can marry anyone, anywhere. In a sentence Unitarians believe that we are each responsible for our own spiritual journeys, Unitarians encourage you to quest for what it is that makes your heart sing – be it atheist, agnostic, Wiccan, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist… I especially like working with couples who say they are “spiritual but not religious”. I began my Lay Chaplain work in 2004 and since 2010 I have also been training Lay Chaplains across the country.
The most important aspect of my work is ensuring that couples have the ceremony of their dreams. My favourite aspect of the work I do is spending time together with each couple co-creating a unique wedding ceremony for them. I really want the words to resonate with their beliefs.
I worked with my first LGBTQ couple in 2003 (the year it had become legal to be married in BC) when I was training to become a Lay Chaplain. [The couple had come to Victoria from the States. Unitarians have been openly and proudly providing services of union and weddings to the LGBTQ community since 1974. (Documented in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights).] I was appalled, the person mentoring me gave the couple a wedding book written for heterosexual couples and said “just make the pronoun changes in your heads”. From that moment on I have striven for equal rights of all couples getting married.
My favourite wedding story amongst a whole host of tales was a wedding where the parents of the flower-boy, who was nine, had just discovered that he was very smart but profoundly deaf. This was a revelation for the family as previous to his diagnosis it had been thought that he had developmental delay. The young boy was so nervous as he was walking up the aisle, with a full basket of flower petals, that he had forgotten to strew them. Luckily it was a very long aisle. I was standing up at the front and suddenly realised that he spoke sign language so I started speaking sign language to him. I said “Don’t forget to …” and then it dawned on me that I didn’t know the word in Signed English for “strew” so I signed “throw the flowers”. He looked at me with a big beaming smile and with all of the nine year old strength he could muster, flung the basket to the heavens. Somewhere in mid-flight the basket spun upside down and rained flower petals on us all. Everyone looked up to follow the arc of the basket and flowers and a photo was taken at that moment from the balcony. In it you see friends, family and the couple being drenched in flowers and more joy on those faces then I have ever experienced.
I have two wonderful children, an 18 year old daughter who just graduated Valedictorian from High School and a son who is profoundly disabled, who still lives at home and needs around the clock care. When I am not officiating you can find me solo hiking in the remote Sooke Hills, cycling or practicing Hot Yoga.
Thanks again to Amanda for sharing, and don't forget to email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for our upcoming event!