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As many of you know, I am an ordained nonsectarian minister/wedding officiant and run a business called Nonconformist Nuptials. Yesterday (May 14), I had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony for Kimberly Nickel and Ted Johnson at the Black Bear Crossing Lakeside Pavilion at Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kim’s sister/matron of honor, Jenny, had recommended me to her after having met me through her work with the Carver-Scott Humane Society, at whose fundraiser, the Walk Fur Love, I’ll be selling my books (“Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss“) on May 22.

Como Lake as viewed from the Pavilion

The setting was beautiful; the bride, groom and their respective entourages, glorious; and Mother Nature…dare I say it?…well, she was kind of a bitch. This “spring” (in quotation marks because we really haven’t had one following one of the longest, toughest, snowiest winters in Minnesota history) has given us about three days of spring; a couple of hottest, most-humid summer-like days; and a ton of residual winter.

Yesterday, it gave us gray skies, arctic winds, rain, and 44˚ temps. Of course, we couldn’t spoil the look of the gorgeous dresses and suits worn by the bridal party by covering them up with parkas, so the girls, wearing strapless gowns made of cold-conducting satiny fabric, and I got to literally freeze our smiles in place. I’m certain our various goosebumps could be detected by low-flying planes.

But what was most remarkable was everyone’s complete lack of tyrannical behavior or rampant complaining!

In addition to the frigid climes, we discovered the marriage license had been forgotten in the hotel room and one of the attendants had to race back to get it. Then we had to ditch the idea of lighting the Unity Candle during the ceremony because nothing could stay lit even momentarily, I just explained what the act would have symbolized and told the crowd the couple would simply do this at the reception instead. Kim remained calm, composed, and smiling no matter what happened.

She was Zen-like (or maybe she’ll already frozen solid in her happy place, I’m not sure). Either way, I was extremely impressed. She and Ted had had to scramble to find another officiant just two weeks before the wedding because of “artistic differences” with their formerly scheduled person. Then, in that short time, always known for being a time of brides losing their minds from managing details, she (and possibly Ted) managed to shop for some really awesome Flintstones memorabilia (some Flintstones Fortune Tellers and four Hardee’s commemorative Flintstones glasses) as gifts for me because she’d visited my home and seen my Flintstones shrine in the basement! I was floored not only by the generosity and thoughtfulness, but by her rising above the conditions that would have overwhelmed most other women in her position to be generous and thoughtful!

Did we all wish the weather had been more cooperative on the wedding day? Of course. But did we all perform like pros and pull off a lovely, meaningful, and memorable ceremony in spite of Nature’s best efforts to mess things up? Absolutely! Yeah, team Nickel-Johnson!!

My heartfelt thanks to Kim, Ted and all their friends and family for making this wedding one I will remember forever—more for how warm they made me feel inside than for how cold I was on the outside! Congratulations, newlyweds!!!—Sid

P.S. Sometime soon, I will have photos and maybe even a video of their ceremony to post on my Nonconformist Nuptials Photo Gallery page. Check in to see it.

The following is an article about my and my business Nonconformist Nuptials posted on the Adventurous Writer website by Laurie Pawlik Kienlen

Wedding Officiant Career Profile – What Ordained Ministers Do

September 25th, 2010 • RelatedFiled Under

In this wedding officiant career profile, an ordained minister describes what she does, and shares the best and worst parts of performing marriage ceremonies for “nonconformist” couples.

Here’s one of the best parts of working as a wedding officiant:

“I never encounter Bridezillas!” says Minnesota-based ordained minister Sid Korpi. “By definition, nonconformists shun the over-the-top trappings of a conventional wedding. These couples seek wedding ceremonies that are customized to them, that reflect their history together, and that reveal their personalities and values.”

Ordained ministers may perform weddings in churches, or while jumping out of airplanes — so they need to be prepared for anything!

And here is Korpi’s job profile, plus her career tips for aspiring ministers…

Career Profile – Wedding Officiant

Korpi is a wedding officiant/nonsectarian minister through Universal Ministries; her business is called Nonconformist Nuptials. She is legally ordained and registered with the state of Minnesota to perform marriage ceremonies.

How Much Money Does an Ordained Minister Make?

“I work as a minister on a part-time basis,” says Korpi. “I average about eight to 10 weddings per year and charging roughly $150–$200 apiece.”

She and her husband also teach private social dance lessons through their home-based business, Two Right Feet Dance. They specialize in getting couples ready for their first wedding dance and/or teach dance at the wedding reception. Those lessons are either $50 each or $135 for a prepaid package of three 90-minute lessons.

In a separate but somewhat similar job, Korpi also works as an animal chaplain.

The Best Parts of Working as a Wedding Officiant …  to learn more click here

I received this message online from a fellow minister/animal chaplain and I really loved what she had to say about her church’s progressive support of pet owners. I’d love to hear from anyone who has incorporated animals into their church service/day-to-day spirituality, etc. It’s a burgeoning field with myriad definitions. My focus is helping people prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. Others infuse their chaplaincy with animal communication and/or energy healing. What do you think animal chaplains should do? Please feel free to add your comments. —Sid

Dear Sid,

I have been the pastor of the Marina United Methodist Church (my fifth congregation) for the past six years, and as a new ritual in this small congregation we had the first blessing of our pets service two years ago. We pray for our pets (also the departed ones) during our Sunday worship and we include them in our monthly newsletter in the prayer section, too.

I increasingly feel the need to create other blessings and rituals for our pets and their people exactly at a time of sickness or death and grief. Again, I can’t wait to read your book.

I have a 1-year-old cat, Bunny Muffin, the love of my life. She will be spayed tomorrow, and I think that there should be a ritual or blessing for occasions like that both for the pet and the pet parent.

I think that churches and pastors need to start to treat pet issues as family issues and acknowledge the milestones in the life of our pets.
I am leaving my church in June to work on—and hopefully finish—my Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree and am seriously considering  changing the current topic of my dissertation to pet-related issues.

Blessings and best wishes,

Aniko Olah

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