In Uncategorized on January 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

First of all, congratulations! If you’ve found your way to this site, you’re more than likely engaged or looking to formalize a commitment to the person you love. That’s cause for celebration. You’re now looking for someone to perform a memorable ceremony that feels uniquely your own.

I specialize in working with couples outside of a strong faith tradition, but who still want a meaningful ceremony that is reflective of your lives together, your identities as individuals, and the history you share together and will continue to build over time.

I’ve married couples in art galleries, taverns, park-district buildings, wineries, and even my own backyard. I’ve performed ceremonies for couples with no religious tradition or varied religious traditions. I’ve married couples pregnant with their first child or planning for no children at all. I’ve officiated ceremonies with a dog as a ring bearer, a groom who threw out his back and had to be married on his knees, and a couple whose wedding was a planned surprise for everyone in the room.

I’m a fully licensed officiant who will work to customize a ceremony that reflects your past, present, and future together. Please take a look at my sample ceremony to the right to get an idea of what I do. Also see the Archives for other sample ceremonies and testimonials.

If you’d like to set up an initial meeting, please feel free to contact me at  I look forward to working with you.

– Christy Prahl


Sample Ceremony: Lindsay and Ken

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Welcome to Guests

It’s July 28th, 2007, and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to the marriage of Lindsay and Ken. It’s always meaningful for a couple to be surrounded by their families and friends on their wedding, and I know it means the world to Lindsay and Ken to have all of you here.

They know this wasn’t an easy place to travel, so those of you who made the trip give particular meaning to this ceremony. It’s a testimony to the strength of the union about to be affirmed, and to your feelings for the two exceptional people before you—and their feelings for you—to have so many here to join in their happiness today.

Their thoughts are also with those who have passed, and they’ve asked for a moment of silence so we can remember those who can’t be with us today. One quick note before we begin: Lindsay and Ken have asked to spend a few quiet moments alone together after the ceremony. But they’ll be delighted for you to visit with them and extend your congratulations later in the evening.

 My Reflections on Lindsay and Ken

It’s very fitting for us to be gathered here in Carbondale, which is where Lindsay and Ken first met one another, back as college students at SIU. This return to where it all began makes their ceremony a type of homecoming, which is a lovely way to usher a new phase of their relationship into the world. Although they already feel at home together, marriage will strengthen that feeling of security, that bond of togetherness, and that sense of the relationship as a kind of domicile – the place they go when they feel joy, or fear, or heartache, or wonder.

I’ve only known Lindsay and Ken for a short time, but I’ve come to understand and admire their relationship. I thought I’d share with you a few things I love about Lindsay and Ken that I suspect a number of you share:

• That they took their time getting to know each other before they let things get romantic. And they also took their time to create a meaningful foundation before deciding to be married

• That they don’t shy away from the fact that they’ve struggled together – that they’ve had 10 years together to figure out how to resolve conflicts and overcome bad patterns, and this has taught them how to experience happiness together, and to appreciate joy they share with one another.

• That they finish each other’s sentences, and make each other laugh

• That they feel a sense of spiritual connection to one another

• That when I asked Lindsay and Ken to describe the tone they were hoping to create for the ceremony, Ken said, ‘I want it to be pretty.’

• That Lindsay admits to finding Hamlet incredibly boring

• That Ken, in his first attempt to woo Lindsay, did the ‘stretch and yawn’ maneuver

• That Lindsay, in a moment of great confidence, was ultimately the one who pursued Ken

• That Ken credits Lindsay for helping him to not run from his emotions

• That they seem to value their time alone as much as their time together, which says they’ll always grow as individuals first, which is the key to a relationship that thrives over time.

• That they’re not afraid to be goofy together

• That they find great comfort in holding each other

• Perhaps above all, though, that when they’re talking together, you feel yourself hanging on every word. That their conversations may seem to be chaotic, at times even on the verge of collision, but when you really listen, you notice it’s an incredibly graceful thing, the way they are together. It’s the way they implicitly understand each other’s rhythms, so it’s not an impending incongruity at all, but a riveting, free-form dance, where one leads for a while, and then the other, and then back again.


Lindsay and Ken have selected a very meaningful reading from the philosopher Kahlil Gibran to mark this special day.

“You Were Born Together” (from “On Marriage” in The Prophet)

“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spades in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone, even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the land of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together, for the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

My Wish for the Couple

It’s especially fitting that we should be at a winery—not for the reasons that those closest to Lindsay and Ken may assume—but because wine is something that improves as it ages. It begins as something tiny and innocent as a grape, and transforms into something entirely different—still a reflection of its constituent parts, but also something beyond the sum of those parts. Sometimes the best wine makers combine two varieties of grapes and come up with something entirely new, better than either was on its own. And so it is for a good marriage, which combines the best of two individuals into something profoundly richer than either was in singularity.

A fine wine is one that is prized, saved, and savored. It is shared with friends, and it marks special occasions. My wish for Lindsay and Ken is to experience a similar kind of transformation, to love who they are both together and apart, and to open to the evolution that comes when you grow alongside one another – when you combine, and endure . . . and of course to only get better, both together and independently, as the years go by.

Before Lindsay and Ken exchange their own vows, they wish to ask for your blessing in supporting and celebrating their union. Lindsay’s family and friends have supported her during her life, as Ken’s family and friends have supported him through his life. These are the seeds of your love and support that they hope will follow them into their marriage. We ask you, the people here today whose relationships have been honored by your invitation to attend, to anchor, and to nurture the marriage of Lindsay and Ken. We ask you to offer your loving support through all the days of their marriage.

I’m about to ask you a question and I’ll invite you to answer with gusto, “We do.” Do you, their family and friends, promise, from this day forward to encourage them and love them, and to help guide and support them in being steadfast in the promises they have made?” “I do.”

Expression of Intent

Do you Lindsay, choose Ken, to be your beloved husband and to love and support him now and always? [I do]

Do you Ken, choose Lindsay, to be your beloved wife and to love and support her now and always? [I do]

Vows (Lindsay, then Ken)

It is with you that I experience the wonders of the world
It is with you that I triumph over the challenges in my path
It is your partnership that leads me
to the fulfillment of my dreams
It is your friendship that guides me
as I learn and grow
It is your patience and wisdom
that calms my restless nature
It is through you that I know my true self
I do not take you for granted, I cherish you
I do not need you, I choose you
I choose you today in witness of all the people who love us
I choose you tomorrow in the privacy of our hearts
I choose you in strength and weakness
I choose you in health and in sickness
I choose you in joy and sorrow
I will choose you, over all others,
every day for all the days of my life.

Exchange of Rings

I give you this ring As a symbol of our marriage
All that I have I share with you, all that I am I give to you

Lindsay and Ken have chosen a lovely Apache marriage blessing to seal their union today and I’m delighted to read it in their honor:

Apache Marriage Blessing

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Pronouncement and Kiss

And now, with the power vested in me by the state of Illinois, it’s my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss each other.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm


How many weddings have you performed?

Since 2004, I’ve performed 14 ceremonies, primarily in the Chicagoland area.

What are your credentials?

I hold an internet minister’s license, as of August 28, 2004, from Rose Ministries. Cook County requires only that an officiant hold an official minister’s license, and internet licenses qualify. Couples being married outside of Cook County should verify requirements from the local county clerk.

What is your fee, and what does it cover?

I charge $500, which covers an initial meeting with the couple, two subsequent planning meetings, any necessary email and/or phone communications, a rehearsal (if applicable), the wedding ceremony itself, and signing of the marriage license. I offer a 10% discount to couples who plan to integrate alternative transportation (public transit, cycling, or walking) into their wedding in a substantive way. Weddings held outside of the city of Chicago may require additional fees to cover travel costs.

Do we need to pay you a deposit?

I don’t require a deposit, and you can simply give me a check once the ceremony is completed. I generally recommend assigning a member of your family or the wedding party to be responsible for the check. That individual can seek me out at the conclusion of the ceremony, or vice versa, which frees the bride and groom to enjoy the festivities without distraction.

Are you authorized to perform religious and/or spiritual ceremonies?

As a nonbeliever with great respect for people of faith, I consider it disengenuous for me to refer to God, Jesus, or other dieties. It would also be inappropriate for me to offer the couple a blessing. If, however, these elements are important to the couple or their families, there are many creative and meaningful ways to incorporate them into the ceremony, such as readings by close family members or friends. I am happy to work with couples to integrate such elements respectfully and poignantly into their special day.

Do you perform same-sex weddings?

Short answer: Of course! To elaborate, I’m a huge proponent of marriage equality and have seen people I love fight tirelessly for this legislation, which needs to be protected. I was honored to perform my first same-sex wedding in December 2015 for very dear friends. I support any loving couple’s desire to formalize their commitment, and I would welcome the opportunity to be part of such ceremonies in the future.

Do you offer and/or require couple’s counseling prior to the ceremony?

I believe that counseling can help any couple, either before or after their marriage, but I do not have the qualifications to offer such counseling.

Do we need to have a formal rehearsal the night before the wedding?

That depends on the nature and level of formality of the wedding itself, as well as the size of the wedding party. Less formal weddings can generally be talked rather than walked through, while more formal weddings benefit from a certain degree of blocking and rehearsing the evening beforehand. I recommend not rehearsing the vows portion aloud the evening before, as vows tend to be more meaningful to the couple when experienced for the first time during the wedding.

Will we see a copy of the ceremony prior to the wedding?

I generally advise couples against seeing the ceremony verbatim prior to the wedding day. Couples seem to value the experience of a certain degree of ‘firstness’ as they experience the ceremony along with their guests. If a couple feels reticent about not reviewing the content in advance, however, of course I’ll be happy to share the text. To date, no couple I’ve married has requested to do so, and none have regretted that decision.

Do you send in our wedding license?

I generally recommend that the bride and groom keep the license with them and place it in the mail the day after their wedding. This ensures that you retain control of the document and can prioritize its mailing as soon as possible following the ceremony.

How frequently do you perform weddings?

Given the amount of time it takes to work with a couple to customize a ceremony, in addition to other demands (by day, I work long hours in the nonprofit sector), I do a maximum of 2 weddings per year.

Do we need to invite you and/or your spouse to the reception?

In no way are you required to invite me to stay for your reception. That’s a decision entirely up to you and your family, and it depends largely on the nature of the wedding itself and the scope of the invitation list. I’ve been honored in the cases where I’ve received an invitation, and I’ve never taken offense when I haven’t.

What role do you play in the wedding planning?

As the officiant,  my role is best isolated to the ceremony itself. Questions pertaining to the set-up of the room, timing or duration of processional music, positioning of the photographer, etc., should be decided by the couple and their families, in consultation with a professional wedding planner if desired.

Are you married, and if so, what was your wedding like?

John and I were married on September 17, 2000. We had an amazing wedding surrounded by family, friends, and good food and music at Schuba’s Tavern and the Harmony Grill. We hired an officiant we didn’t take the time to get to know, and regrettably, the ceremony was not as individualized as we might have liked. I consequently take my role as officiant very seriously, and I’m eager to make your wedding a meaningful and memorable experience for you and those who surround you.