Speaking a mix of Nordic languages and a licensed New York City tour guide for many years, elopement specialist celebrant Eva Engman, is not your average American wedding officiant.
Read her SHINE spotlight interview here:
I love rituals and traditions, and for some time I had been thinking about weddings, and why they can be so different. I had been quite shocked at the ones where the ceremony was like something you "survived" in order to party, and it disturbed me greatly. I also went to many others, where it was the most beautiful, personal ritual ever imagined. I wanted to be part of that beauty.
I had my New York State officiant license dormant for awhile, until a photographer friend, who has become the one I work mostly with, said, “I photograph a lot of Swedish weddings, with English speaking celebrants, why don’t you offer your services, since you speak their language?
It was the perfect time to start, and I am still the only Swedish speaking celebrant in New York. Naturally most of my ceremonies are in English, but being able to offer it in their native language, makes a difference for “my” Swedish/Scandinavian couples.
Your own language speaks deeply to your heart, there are nuances in words, which can get lost in translation, and there is a level of extra comfort of understanding perfectly, what is said in a moment as important as your wedding. As many also have their children along, it allows for them to be a more integral part, as well.
I love the privilege of getting to know the couple. Rather than having a conversation with them both, I send a questionnaire to be answered separately, and this is one of my absolute favourite moments.
Reading through it I cry, and laugh, and I adore to see how often the same story is told from two perspectives. even together we have different outlooks on life, and we remember different details. It adds a wonderful texture.
Often one is quote verbal and open, and the other maybe not so much, but I also get an idea from how they respond, not just what is said. That's where my intuition, used as a healer, comes in handy.
I have learned so much about true love, both from the young lovers, and the couples who've been together in civil unions for many years. One groom answered my question “How did you know this was IT? “ with “Because it’s so simple”. The Drama was gone.
I have noticed this in many responses since then. I early on said that all this love must be contagious - and I know that by really listening and taking all this in, I opened myself up to the person I now have in my life, the joy of simplicity, and peace, after having had quite the drama in my own life.
As a therapist, healer, I believe it's because we have known the hardships, and still know we are are a work in progress, that makes us good at what we do. I am humbled by how much I learn from what the couples share with me, in how they got to their special day, and that they have chosen to allow me to be a part of.
I have many elopement couples who say, ”I am not spiritual, or romantic", or something to that effect. I start there, and say that if you are in love, you are spiritual in the best sense. And I, almost always, use a Himalayan singing bowl to start the ceremony. It’s a great way to have the couple focus on each other, and also to calm down the butterflies.In a larger wedding, it also brings all energies in the room together to support the couple.
I have had sand rituals, a beautiful Hindu red paint ritual, and hand washings, which is probably my favourite, with the script of allowing the water to bring forgiveness of self, and others.
In a wedding that has had to be postponed until this fall, we have planned a beautiful reading of 7 blessings, and they are composed, and will be read by, family members. I really look forward to that very personal and special ritual.
Yes yes yes . Everyone one is of course fabulous in its own way- and I have some great ones with children, but I will chose the one where we had to make the best out of a small catastrophe.
I always tell the couples that all will work out as it is meant to - even if there are unforeseen things that happen, we will make them a good memory.
This elopement couple from Sweden had been very adamant in telling me they weren’t “romantic/spiritual “ They had prepared all legalities correctly online, and often the international couples only come for a few days, so time is of the essence
The day they went to City Clerk to obtain their marriage license, the whole computer system was down. They patiently sat there all day without getting a license.
What to do? They were flying home the day after, so we only had the day planned. I said - "you will have to get your Marriage Certificate in a brief ceremony at home, but let’s move on as if you have the license."
We met up at Ladies Pavilion, a beautiful, popular spot in Central Park, and had a lovely, personal, ceremony just as we had planned. During the ceremony I noticed that the famous musician, was in his usual spot, “busking”.
I had an inkling that this could be something special, so I steered the couple, and the photographer his way.
The musician immediately realized what was happening - so he called out for them to stop, and have their first dance, there and then. They were extremely shy, but had no choice, when he, and probably 100 people, started singing “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”. There were some videos and photos snapped, and the couple has shared these several times, with the caption “The most wonderful, perfect, and romantic day of my life“
They had their two minute legal service back in Sweden, but the day in Central Park,is their wedding anniversary.
It may not have been the most unusual, but certainly the most moving.
This couple had been living together for almost 30 years. Early in the relationship she had developed cancer, and she was convinced he was going to pack his bags and leave. Not at all, he was there in every way. There had been more medical set backs along the way, but now everything seemed to be alright. They decided they wanted to elope to New York, and get legally married finally.
After so many years together, I also saw it as a renewal of vows, in the most poignant way. I met them the night before, as I always do, and the bride told me that three weeks before this, she had been diagnosed with yet another cancer.
It was very difficult not to cry during the ceremony - the connection and love between them being palpable, and she had a glow in, and around, her. I knew there and then, that I was in the blessed presence of Real, True, Love.
And, I should add, they are still going strong.
Listen to what resonates with you two. It is about what you want, who you are, and how you want to make the ceremony yours.
No one else’s opinion matters.
Awesome photos by kind permission of:
Eva is based in New York.She loves every type of wedding, but she has a special affinity for smaller affairs, and elopements.
Her original training is as a singing actress, and in her concerts she strives to offer a moment of reflection, which was natural path into writing scripts for weddings. Eva, as Reiki Master, and certified Sound Therapist, is making sure everyone is feeling safe, and supported, whether it is the couple, or the guests. She enjoys having children participate in the ceremonies, and a smaller child will most likely bring something unplanned. In small weddings, it's even happened that she has held the couple's child on one hip, in order for them to focus on the rings, or a special ritual. One of Eva’s strengths is to think on her feet, and if need be, ad lib, which has come in handy. If you are young, or more mature in age, straight or gay, and looking for a celebrant who will help you along the process, answering your questions, soothe your nerves, laugh with you, hand you a hankie for your tears, and who you might consider a trusted and loving sister, or aunt, Eva would love, and be deeply honoured, to being a part of your Special Day.
22nd May 2020
13th May 2020
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8th May 2020
2nd May 2020