For many interfaith and same-sex couples, finding the right officiant can be more challenging than meeting the parents. Fortunately, New York is full of ministers and rabbis willing to unite all couples. We've sought out those most willing to personalize the ceremony according to your wishes, however unorthodox. In these listings, individuals are alphabetized by last name.
The Reverend Dr. Robert Brashear212-362-4890; email@example.com
Not only can Brashear officiate at interfaith weddings and gay "holy unions," he can do them in Spanish as well. Half of an interfaith couple himself, he mostly presides at Jewish-Christian unions but occasionally works with other faiths. His fee usually starts at $350.
The Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway212-631-3520; firstname.lastname@example.org; weddinggoddess.com
This interfaith and nondenominational minister has incorporated rituals from all faiths—Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and more—to create what she calls "wedding theater." A former journalist, Brockway is dedicated to crafting a personalized ceremony. Prices upon request.
Cantor Ronald Broden914-720-8509; jewish-ceremonies.com
A classically trained opera singer, Ronald Broden has officiated hundreds of Jewish, interfaith, same-sex, and civil unions over the past eighteen years—making each as traditional or nontraditional as the couple desires. He will help you draft a ketubah, provide the chuppa, and even sing at the recessional. Prices vary according to travel.
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture53 Prospect Park W., nr. 2nd St., Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-768-2972; bsec.org
Although each local Ethical Culture Society provides officiants for ceremonies—interfaith, secular, or gay—the Brooklyn branch, with its historical mansion and garden, also makes a wonderful venue. BSEC leader emerita Lisel Burns requires at least two meetings to help plan a ceremony; fees range from $400 to $750.
The Reverend Pat Bumgardner212-629-7440
The longtime pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Bumgardner presides over gay unions both small and large. She'll unite couples with any religious background (even none), but she requires at least two meetings to discuss the sacramental meaning and practical details of the ceremony. Book five to six months in advance; her fee is a $350 donation to the church (negotiable) if the ceremony is held there, $500 minimum if she must travel.
Captain Arnold's Nautical Wedding Bells18-05 215th St., nr. Bell Blvd., No. 4E, Bayside; 516-413-4555; nauticalweddingbells.com
Captain Arnold, complete with captain's uniform, can marry you on the high seas, at the Boathouse in Central Park, or on the ship or venue of your choice—even the top of the Empire State Building. The interfaith chaplain works with couples to create customized ceremonies. Prices start at $500.
Community of Peace and Spirituality212-787-7272; interfaithhome.org
Principal ministers Susanna Weiss and Allan Lokos perform some 100 individually crafted ceremonies every year—thanks to Lokos's background as an opera singer and Weiss's expertise in linguistics, performed in virtually any language (past weddings have incorporated Hebrew, German, Italian, and Chinese)—and they can be religious or nonreligious, spiritual or nondenominational. Prices upon request.
The Reverend Alma Daniel212-613-5885; email@example.com
The ordained interfaith minister (also a best-selling author, spiritual teacher, and founder of a counseling service) will marry couples of all faiths, including interfaith and nondenominational, and will perform spiritual, intimate, and elegant civil ceremonies as well. She can sometimes perform ceremonies with as little as 24 hours’ notice. Prices start at $700.
Sharan DePalmaBlissful Bonds Ceremonies, 914-506-0300; firstname.lastname@example.org
An ordained minister based in Chappaqua, DePalma is registered in all counties of New York State, including the five boroughs, and has been officiating interfaith and nondenominational weddings for five years. After meeting with the couple in person, DePalma—whose warm, good-natured disposition is invaluable for stress-free nuptials—creates a ceremony honoring their unique story, personalities, and values. She incorporates religious and/or spiritual beliefs and blends elements from the couple’s respective cultures to ensure a meaningful, memorable event. Optional services include premarital counseling, a keepsake wedding certificate, and a photo slideshow of the ceremony. Fees range from $150 to $600.
Rabbi Joseph H. Gelberman212-866-3795; allfaithseminary.org
At 96, Gelberman may be the oldest interfaith clergyman in the city. The neo-Hasidic rabbi is widely recognized for his teachings on the Kabbalah and has married all faiths for more than 70 years. Prices vary; try to schedule his services three to six months in advance.
Rabbi Joel S. Goor212-679-8580
Goor has been marrying all faiths since 1978, when he realized that mixed unions had become "the reality of life." He'll perform services at the Metropolitan Synagogue of New York (one of the few that allow interfaith ceremonies) or wherever you wish. He requires at least one consultation; appointments should be booked about nine months ahead. Prices upon request.
The Reverend Leslie Harry212-949-9529; revles.com
Former clients herald Harry for the "extraordinary sensitivity and spirituality" he brought to their ceremonies. As both an interfaith minister and a practicing psychotherapist, Harry prioritizes the couple's needs and personalizes the process as much as possible. He welcomes any and all faiths. Prices upon request.
Celebrant Kim Kirkley718-753-1993; kimkirkley.com
A nonpracticing lawyer, Kirkley has been performing personalized ceremonies for several years. She's married more than 300 couples in interfaith, secular, spiritual, and same-sex unions, at venues from the Waldorf-Astoria to the Brooklyn Bridge as well as all over the tri-state area. Prices from $500.
Dr. Katherine Kurs917-328-5206; email@example.com
With a master's from Harvard Divinity School (and a Ph.D. from the Royal College of Art), Kurs can incorporate almost any religious tradition into ceremonies for straight or gay couples. (One wedding included Episcopalian, Greek Orthodox, Wiccan, Gnostic, and Jewish mystical elements.) She likes to work closely with couples, which usually means three meetings and lots of e-mails; her fee is $1,000 plus travel.
The Reverend Allan Lokos212-877-4655; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lokos was once a Broadway performer (he sang in the original Broadway production of Oliver!). In addition to being an ordained interfaith minister, Lokos is also a mediation teacher. He'll marry all faiths and is the co-founder and co-director of the Community of Peace and Spirituality here in the city. Prices vary.
Celebrant Tulis McCall917-318-8943; weddingsbytulis.com
With a strong background in both performance and writing, interfaith minister McCall became a celebrant after sensing a dearth of creative ceremonies. She has married more than 150 couples, in secular, interfaith, religious, and same-sex ceremonies from Manhattan to Maine. Prices begin at $400 and include an initial consultation.
New York Society for Ethical Culture2 W. 64th St., at Central Park W.; 212-874-5210; nysec.org
The Ethical Culture "Leaders" at this forward-thinking organization officiate "humanist ceremonies" that reflect gender equality, with an emphasis on ethics and no talk of God. Rather than asking for a blessing from above, leaders ask for one from friends and family focusing on their personal commitment to the couple's relationship. Ceremonies are appropriate for couples without a traditional religious affiliation or for those of different faiths and are also available to same-sex couples. Prices start at $600 plus $50 application fee.
Rabbi Marcia Rappaport212-741-7378; rabbimarcia.com
Known for her bluesy voice (she used to sing in a gospel choir), Rappaport is an equal-opportunity officiant: She leads Jewish, interfaith, civil, and gay and lesbian weddings. Prior to the ceremony, she likes to hold an "appreciation meeting" for couples to express their gratitude for one another. This popular practice with to-be-weds strengthens a couple's bond, while also allowing Rappaport to form a connection with the people whose ceremony she will perform. Prices start at $750.
Rabbi Roger Ross & The Reverend Deborah Steen Ross212-222-1475; lovingheartsceremonies.com
An ordained rabbi and an ordained interfaith minister, this married couple is happy to preside over traditional as well as interfaith and same-sex ceremonies, and they're also happy to travel: Rabbi Ross once married a couple in Spain. He also co-officiated a Jewish-Christian-Hindu ceremony with a Christian minister and a Hindu pundit in New Jersey. They like to meet with couples at least two times. The cost is $850 plus travel expenses.
Cantor Dan Rous212-665-1685; email@example.com
A former opera singer, Rous now performs at the 92nd Street Y on High Holidays and officiates at weddings for couples (including same sex) in which at least one partner is Jewish. Though he'll incorporate the other partner's religious preferences, he always sings the traditional Hebrew blessings (with the translation of your choice); $1,200 plus travel expenses.
Rabbi Burt Aaron Siegel212-570-9047; firstname.lastname@example.org; theshulofnewyork.org
Siegel welcomes all faiths and requires at least one conversation with the couple before marrying them at the Shul of New York (or a venue of their choice). He'll sing a traditional Hebrew wedding prayer and happily include readings selected by the couple ($100–$500).
Cantor Judith Steel718-544-9772; 917-371-4499; email@example.com; cantorjudithsteel.com
As a child, Steel evaded Nazi persecution in Germany when a French Catholic family took her into their home—an experience that informed her view that love does not always fit within the neat confines of religion. She is the cantor at the New Synagogue in Manhattan and an ordained interfaith minister. Highlights of Steel's highly personalized services include a candle-lighting ceremony to join the two families and a wine ceremony consisting of seven blessings chosen specifically by the bride and groom. Pricing start at $650 plus travel expenses.
Carissa TempletonTwo-In-Love Ceremonies, 646-404-7453; firstname.lastname@example.org; twoinloveceremonies.typeped.com
Templeton is experienced in officiating interfaith, nondenominational, multicultural, and commitment ceremonies. Many of which have taken place in Central Park. She’ll also co-officiate and can recommend wedding vendors to suit the couple’s needs and budget. Templeton takes a special interest in each couple she marries, meeting with them a few times over the course of the engagement if desired, offering private premarital workshops (also optional), helping them write meaningful vows, and, with their consent, posting about their wedding on her blog, which features photographs and links to wedding locations and vendors. Couples wed by Templeton vouch for her calming demeanor as well as her professionalism. Fees start at $500 (elopements and ten-person weddings are less).
A Wedding Your Way917-620-3014; email@example.com; nycido.com
Since she was ordained in 2004, founder Pamela Mudzingwa has married more than 250 couples. She works very closely with them to script a customized wedding ceremony, one that is not affiliated with any single religion or cultural heritage. She'll do interfaith, spiritual, and secular ceremonies and can accommodate a couple on a strict budget. For Hispanic weddings, she brings in a Spanish translator. And if you want to marry on a ship, you're in luck: Mudzingwa is affiliated with the Norwegian Dawn and Royal Caribbean. Free consultation; fees vary.
The Reverend Dr. Celeste Wiseblood44 E. 32nd St., nr. Madison Ave., eleventh fl.; 917-833-8885; 212-505-1569
Wiseblood is the founder and senior minister of the Spirit of Life All Faiths Congregation. She officiates at interfaith, same-faith, and gay and lesbian ceremonies. She’s fluent in Spanish as well as English and can officiate in both languages. Additionally, for couples with budgetary limitations, Wiseblood is able to recommend extraordinarily inexpensive spaces for the ceremony or reception. Her services cost between $350 and $600.
From the Winter 2008 New York Wedding Guide