Real Couples // A Private Quaker Ceremony in a Tree: Darren + Elyse

Elyse and I are a relatively low-key couple. "Exciting" weekends typically consist of movies at home and hikes in the woods... so when we thought about our wedding, we always saw the ceremony as a small and intimate event. We wanted to make sure that we were fully present and not nervous or self-conscious about being in front of a large crowd.

With a small wedding of only our closest family present in mind, we then had to decide the type of ceremony we wanted. Neither of us is particularly religious so we didn't have strong ties to a specific wedding tradition. My mother however, is a member of the Society of Friends Church, or the Quaker church. She is considered a ‘convinced friend' — someone who joined the church rather than being born into a Quaker family. Through her, I learned about the elements of a Quaker wedding and thought that they would be perfect for our own ceremony. Quaker weddings, like all of their services and ceremonies, are not led by a priest or minister. Weddings are led by the bride and groom themselves. This appealed to us because it put the focus solely on our relationship. This part of the wedding was only possible because we were married in Pennsylvania, one of the few states that allows couples to marry without an officiant, know as a ‘self-uniting ceremony’ (Elyse's family is from Pittsburgh and her mom was the one who tipped us off on the choice). 

Another Quaker aspect that we incorporated was a moment of silence — where we, along with our families could reflect on our marriage and what it meant. Our families were encouraged to stand and share thoughts during the moment of silence. We look back at this part as especially meaningful. It was a time when everyone present could fully realize and appreciate the significance of the step we were taking.

While our ceremony only incorporated certain elements of the Quaker tradition, those moments were integral in allowing us to create the ceremony that was perfect to begin our marriage.

PS. We got married in a tree! We were both incredibly excited about this.

Photos by Betty Clicker Photography

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 Betty Clicker Photography

Kate Thompson Feucht of Betty Clicker Photography is inspired by the art that exists in genuine moments of connection between people and their surroundings and enjoy working with couples who are not afraid to be creative and live fully outside the lines. She is based in Richmond, Virginia, but is available to travel everywhere.