** I do not always receive an alert about a pending inquiry here. For the fastest response, please write me here and let me know some basic details about yourselves (Jewish, interfaith, secular, etc) -- but also send a text or email me directly at SecularJewishIrishWeddings@gmail.com. TY! 267-902-7752. **
So "How is this officiant different from all other officiants?"
Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, best summarized my approach to our tradition, in his famous quote: "The past has a vote, but not a veto." In other words, while the traditions of any religion or culture are a great place to BEGIN the process of planning any religious event -- they should not dictate it -- especially if they don't reflect YOUR beliefs or your partnership!
My focus in every wedding I create is on love, community and family -- not to have a captured audience to "sell" my personal ideas about a diety or after life!
I also NEVER officiate the same ceremony twice. I don't have two or three pre-scripted ceremonies and ask you to pick one (or decide which would be best for you) -- which is what low-cost officiants do. (Think about it: How can a person invest 15 to 20 hours meeting you, follow up calls, proofing a ketubah, writing a ceremony, driving 2 hours RT, and officiant your ceremony -- all for only $300 or $500? They obviously can't; so that's the difference between "budget" officiants and someone like me).
What I find even more painful are those clergy who use the pre-scripted wedding ceremony from the Clergy Manual of whatever Christian or Jewish group they belong to -- one usually written in the Middle Ages, over 1000 years ago -- and just deliver the SAME ceremony for EVERY couple who contacts them. It's just such a tragically wasted opportunity.
Of course, you want great food and a nice venue, but at the end of the day, it is the content of your ceremony that I believe is the MOST IMPORTANT part of your wedding. And having that entirely hinges on your celebrant's ability to write beautifully; use the rituals or readings that best reflect who you both are; and then have an engaging, joyous, and entertaining delivery during the ceremony
Probably 90% of the couples I marry are Catholic-Jewish partners, but I've married Quakers, Hindus, Baptists -- you name it!
I'm happy to officiate ceremonies where neither partner is Jewish; such couples usually self-define as agnostic, atheist, or "spiritual but not religious." I can create a ceremony with SO much more heart and soul than a Justice of the Peace would!
And still others find me specifically because of my special love and expertise in the Celtic handfasting ritual. (I'm half Scot ancestry myself; I can tell you about two lesser-known Irish/Scottish wedding rituals.)
That said, I AM an ordained rabbi and legally able to perform marriages in every state; I've studied or worked in all non-Orthodox Jewish branches for 30 years: Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Secular Humanist, Renewal. My training was the standard, uber-demanding 6 years of full-time post-graduate study, akin to earning a PhD.
Of course I am always HONORED to officiate for LGBTQ couples.
My first career was as a journalist, both writing and editing. I provide you with many dozens of files I have written to help you weigh your ceremony options (such as providing alternative options of traditional prayers). In a meeting, we would first review all 8 Jewish elements in a traditional wedding, any traditions that might work from the non-Jewish partner's background, culture, or current religious affiliation, and lastly, we'd talk about any American traditions you might wish to consider.
You'd then take however long you need to talk it over and make your selections; you would send me your final choices in a Q&A file I would provide.
In this way, we literally co-create your ceremony! You have total say over ALL the content in your ceremony (though I naturally share pointers based on my experience doing about 250 weddings over the past 14 years.)
By far the most popular (and unique) element of my ceremonies is what I call "The Love Story.” Here, I ask you each to answer questions about how you met, your first date, what qualities you fell in love with, etc. You each would email me your answers privately – the surprise is half the fun! If you read through my Reviews, you will see this is hands-down everyone's favorite part of every ceremony!
I'm a certified facilitator for the Prepare & Enrich premarital prep program, which is a free "add-on" service I offer anyone interested. It involves taking an online survey (about 20 minutes) where you each answer questions in the top 9 categories that affect marital happiness, based on 30 years' scientific research by top social scientists, such as Dr. John Gottlieb and his Love Lab at the University of Oregon.
The P&E program is especially beneficial for couples who haven't been together for more than a few years; where one or both partners have never been in a serious relationship before; or if you are interfaith and plan/hope to have children!
As far as logistics, this is the process: FIRST, we have a phone call to "meet" (no obligation!) SECOND, I invite you to my home to brainstorm the MANY options you have for your ceremony; it takes about 2 hours. THIRD, after receiving your final decisions, I will write a ceremony based on your selections.
At whatever point you are ready to reserve your date, you make a 50% deposit. The balance is due by the wedding day.
I encourage you to take 5 minutes and watch the video clip on this site of me co-officiating with an Episcopalian priest -- just to get a sense of my writing, speaking style, and stage presence.
Congratulations on this joyous, exciting BIG step in your life!
-- Rabbi Joysa
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We have worked with Joysa on several weddings and she is very easy to work with. Her friendly manner and professional approach put the bride and groom at ease and make for a great ceremony (& video). We hope to work with her again soon. Kevin & Rachele