justice of the peace


We All Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends:


Kim Kirkley

You are getting married and blown away by the way your friends and family receive your good news! When you think about your big day and your vows, you know you want something meaningful and distinct -- something that feels like the two of you. Of course, weddings tend to be pricey so you may also be thinking about your budget. How do you fulfill your vision without breaking the bank? You may be thinking well we don’t have a clergy person in our lives but we do have eloquent, warm, witty friends. They know  us. They love us. We love them! Let’s ask a friend to officiate! It’s a win-win! Or is it?

I get calls from friends who have been drafted to officiate. They are usually nervous and clueless. Sometimes they even say, “I tried to get them to hire you.” They ask me to compress my many years of officiating knowledge into a nutshell. Although I help in the ways that I can, it’s impossible. Friends quickly see -- there is a lot more to creating and delivering a custom tailored ceremony than most people realize. Do you really want to send them on this journey when they could just be happy for you and enjoy your wedding? 

Adroit officiating calls for a highly specific set of skills. It relies on the knowledge of what makes a meaningful ceremony to the skill to write one and perhaps, most importantly, knowing how to deliver a ceremony that everyone can hear and feel. 

Here’s another challenge. In a friend-led ceremony, the friend is processing their emotions at the same time as they craft and deliver the ceremony. Marriage hasn’t always been good to everyone and no one knows what really goes on behind closed doors. You should be in agreement and certain about how your friend  feels about marriage, love, and commitment because, chances are their beliefs will be present in your ceremony, openly or subtly. In a Celebrant ceremony, you benefit from the expertise and professional distance of a ceremony expert. 

You may think that your friend's public speaking experience will seamlessly transfer to ceremonial speaking. It may or it may not. Delivering a ceremony is different than delivering a lecture, speech or poem. Do you want to test your friend's ceremonial speaking style during your once in a life-time event? That is up to you but I would not. Is your friend familiar with what it takes to create a full-ceremonial experience whether it is religious or not?  Most importantly, is your family willing to take a chance on an amateur at this once in a lifetime event? 

My favorite compliment that I receive time and time again is "How long have you known the couple? Because of the care and attention I offer, your guests will believe that I am a friend delivering your ceremony. And, because my process is tailored so that I only work with couples when the three of us click, by the time we begin to craft your ceremony, I am a friend as well as a ceremony professional. This is the best of both worlds. This is a win-win. With a professional Celebrant you have access to the heart of a friend and the expertise of a professional officiant. 

The truth is not every friend led ceremony is a success. I know because people tell me so. Often saying something like, “I wish my [insert loved one here] had called you.”

Here is my current favorite success story --  I was approached by a humanistic Buddhist groom and a Protestant yoga-loving bride. They didn’t know what to do or where to turn in order to create an authentic wedding ceremony experience. The groom was okay with one or 2 mentions of God and the bride wanted a ceremony that honored the Protestant traditions that she loved growing up. So here’s what we did -- we started by welcoming everyone to the gathering by giving reverence to God. We told a bit of their love story and then spoke about the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism because as a yoga-lover, the bride is studying Buddhism and that was something that they were exploring together. And then in the vows the bride took the groom “In the presence and awareness of God” and the groom took his vow “Giving reverence to life….”  It was a beautiful celebration that represented them to a T -- such a special ceremonial experience for all! Their ceremony was a living work of art dedicated to them, that they and their guests will treasure for a lifetime. 

Isn't that what every couple desires and deserves? 

Celebrants love friends and family and understand that your friends and families are your treasures! As the Beatles sang, “We get by with a little help from our friends.” However, for your ceremony, professional Celebrants would like you to do more than just “get by.” We seek to deliver ceremonies that get invoke a shared euphoric experience! One that leaves every one’s spirits elevated by love -- Elated with life! If you would like to check out how a Celebrant led ceremony can enliven your wedding,  please visit CelebrantInstitute.org and schedule a no-obligation meeting with a Celebrant or, since I am happy to travel, visit my website, OurElegantCeremony.com. You will be glad you did! 

By the way, I am so certain of the quality of ceremony I deliver, I offer a “no questions asked” money back guarantee for every ceremony I deliver. In all of my years of officiating, no one has ever requested a refund. What happens if your friend flubs your big day? 

Irim & Mahmud!


Irim and Mahmud wed at the gorgeous Park Savoy Estate, Florham Park, New Jersey, an idyllic oasis just minutes from New York City. 



Their non-religious, love story ceremony was authentically theirs and unforgettable! The Park Savoy Estate with its lush gardens, historic and serene courtyard provided the perfect setting for this heart-centered wedding ceremony! 



Although initially they were not interested in marriage coaching sessions, after the first session they told me that they found the tips I shared to be really helpful! Another benefit of coaching is that I really get to know and love the couples I marry.  With this always being my goal, I must say I especially adore and appreciate Irim and Mahmud, a pediatric anesthesiologist and a vice president of an investment firm because their hearts are even more beautiful than their impressive careers. By the way, their wedding was featured in the New York Times.  



Their custom-tailored wedding ceremony celebrated the transformative power of love in all of its forms -- the love of parents for their child; the love of peers who pledge their lives to each other; the love that unites family and friends.



This is how we celebrated the exchange of Irim and Mahmud's rings:

"Rings are an ancient symbol. Circles-the symbol of unity, of wholeness, and of perfection; of the sun, the earth, and the universe. These rings are singular and individual, yet they represent a unity that has no beginning and no end."

On this sprawling, peaceful estate, we were able to create an experience that invited all in attendance to connect with the love that lives in every heart. 

The Park Savoy Estate

The Park Savoy Estate


There are so many beautiful places for pictures and for your guests to explore the splendor that is the Park Savoy Estate and GlenMar Photographers did an outstanding job documenting these once in a lifetime moments.

Also, the staff at the Park Savoy Estate is top notch! Every one is professional, welcoming and attentive to the needs of the couple, their guests and vendors. Performing a wedding at the Park Savoy Estate and collaborating with the exemplary team of staff and professionals was a magical experience. 

When you are looking for a wedding officiant/Celebrant for your wedding ceremony, families I have worked with will tell you that Kim Kirkley of Our Elegant Ceremony is always the easy choice! An experienced ceremony and communication specialist, declared "The Officiant" by New York magazine, I delight in helping each couple authentically and meaningfully enjoy their walk down the aisle as the ceremony invokes an experience where everyone feels more alive and euphoric than when the ceremony began!

And I love collaborating with wedding professionals like the amazing ones listed below!


Photographers: GlenMar Photographers 

Flowers: Teaneck Flower Shop

 Venue: Park Savoy Estate 

Rings: David S. Diamonds 

Invitations: Fourteen-Forty

 Music: Choimatic

Dance Instructor: Wedding Day Dance

 Cake:  A Little Cake