Personalized … Exceptional … Innovative

Dr. Richard A. Kaplowitz, Officiant

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A Wide Variety of Ceremonies

Details of these various ceremonies are found below

                                   [ Scroll down, or click on the links to go directly to that section ]

Civil Wedding Ceremonies                     Spiritual Wedding Ceremonies

Multi-Cultural / Interfaith Marriage           Involving Children in Weddings
Same-Sex Weddings & Commitments     Ceremonies without a Legal Marriage

Surprise Weddings                                Second & Third Marriages

Unity Candles and Sand Crystals            Elopement // Short-Notice Ceremonies

Baby Welcoming                                         Renewals of Vows

                       Northern California as a Wedding Destination

                        Memorial Celebrations and Funeral Services


 Civil Wedding Ceremonies

Civil ceremonies have become very popular in the Bay Area.  

In contrast with a church based wedding, your civil ceremony can be conducted wherever you prefer -- 
    in a park in Mountain View, 
        on a beach in Santa Cruz,
            in your back yard in San Mateo,            
                or in the roof garden at the Fairmont. 

  • There are no expensive or lengthy courses to attend or counseling required.
  • Being of different or no faiths is not an issue.
  • Having already had some children poses no obstacles.
  • Having been previously married or divorced becomes irrelevant. 
  • You are not subjected to probing personal examinations of your readiness and your intentions. 

In civil, unlike church weddings, you become the center of power.  
Rick will perform your ceremony where you decide to hold it, at a time convenient for you and your guests.

You’ll have complete control over both the content and length of your ceremony, with a selection of verses that best express your feelings for one another. Your families and friends will long remember your fresh thinking in blending tradition with innovation. Your own original verses, or those you have found elsewhere, can be incorporated.

For those couples who specifically want a ceremony with references to God, Rick can perform a non-denominational or multi-faith ceremony incorporating references to your particular beliefs -- see more detail just below, in "Spiritual Ceremonies." 

You have the final decision on all content so there will be no surprises during your ceremony, and, with Rick’s guidance, you’ll have the confidence to sparkle throughout your day.
 Spiritual Ceremonies

All marriage ceremonies are spiritual in nature, in that love, honor, commitment and mutual respect are core aspects of just about all faiths and humanistic belief systems.


Rick is happy to respectfully honor the values and traditions of each couple and of their families. In one recent ceremony, the couple elected to use the exact same religious vows [see video] taken by the grooms grandparents. 

There is a vast selection of verses and text with which we can acknowledge your beliefs yet avoid the typical heaviness of in-church or in-temple ceremonies.

      Elopement in Palo Alto


 Multi-Cultural and Inter-Faith 

Marriage Ceremonies


Mori Point, on the Pacific Ocean

The San Francisco Bay Area community embraces and celebrates our wonderful
diversity of nationality, race, and faith communities, and Rick can assist you in incorporating the traditions and cultures of your ethnic and religious backgrounds into a modern wedding ceremony.

Should either or both spouses identify with aspects of their ethnic heritage, you are encouraged to proudly reflect it.  If some of your families speak a language other than English, then one or both of the readings used during your ceremony can be in that language, allowing the beauty of the language to speak for itself.  

Celebrants with a Scottish background can enter and exit 
with a bagpipe preceding them.

For those of Jewish heritage, the breaking of the glass             [video link] 

is easily incorporated into the ceremony and enjoyed by all guests; similarly, African-American couple may choose to carry forward jumping the broom.


A Vietnamese couple can incorporate the serving of tea to both sets of parents into their ceremony, 

and couples of Mexican descent can reflect and bring 

honor their Madrinas and Padrinos.  

Filipino sponsors can walk in the processional with 

the parents. 

The specific respective traditions and cultures of couples with two different religious backgrounds can be integrated into an inter-faith wedding ceremony. 

If one member of the pair has an officiant of a particular faith whom they want included in the wedding, Rick will happily work with you and that other person to collaboratively build a great jointly officiated ceremony for you.


Your wedding is an opportunity for you to honor yourselves, your families and your heritage by bringing to your ceremony the beautiful accents of word, song, dress and tradition that have made you who you are, and Rick can advise you as to how best to achieve this in your script.

 Involving Children in Wedding Ceremonies

Yes, some extra attention may be needed, but most times including children into a ceremony can add a spontaneous freshness that appeals to everyone.

Having children present at and in your ceremony is a graphic symbol of the circle of life.

Whether you are including children from your own relationship, from a previous one, or are simply borrowing children from some family or friends, children can be incorporated into the ceremony in a number of traditional and innovative ways including:

     ~~  Groomsman

     ~~  Bridesmaid
     ~~  Ring Bearer
     ~~  Flower Girl
    ~~  Bell ringer
    ~~   Arras coin carrier


When you are integrating two families, Rick can also help you ensure that 
the children are properly referenced in the script. 

 Same-Sex Weddings 

             & Commitment Ceremonies

As a strong supporter of the Marriage Equality movement, Rick he is delighted that he can again marry same-sex partners in California.


Each same-gender ceremony is another opportunity to establish new traditions that borrow from the old yet find new forms of expression that incorporate the unique issues that should be addressed in order to ensure the complete satisfaction for all.

No two ceremonies are alike and Rick strives to help you find the balance that is appropriate for the two of you, your families, and your guests.

Click HERE to go to the LBGT Wedding page 

 Ceremonies without a Legal Marriage

There are situations where couples have personal reasons for wanting to have all the trappings of a wedding ceremony except for the actual signing of the legal documents. 

Sometimes they have been quietly married elsewhere in the past and they are now ready for the big celebration in front of their families and friends. 

Occasionally, the certified divorce documentation was not supplied in time for a license to be issued before an already scheduled ceremony date and expensive arrangements. 

There are circumstances where actually completing the marriage would have significant legal and financial impacts that neither of the couple wish to experience.

Regardless of your own personal reasons, Rick can ably assist you in planning a joy-filled ceremony to share with your families, with all of the emotions that everyone will want to experience.

 Surprise Wedding Ceremonies

Sometimes it's more practical to plan a wedding ceremony without the knowledge or involvement of some, most, or all of the other participants and guests.

Imagine having invited everyone to a house-warming party, as one couple did on the 7th anniversary of their having met.  At the party, they announced that everyone attending was invited to their upcoming wedding.   Someone then asked: “When?”  The response was:  “Well, in about one minute!”  The shock and surprise was calculated, and the response of their guests (and parents) exceeded their expectations.

While there are multiple reasons for doing so, often these reasons are based in not wanting your guests to incur unnecessary expenses. In other cases, family members are known to get too worked up just before a wedding, and their stress gets amplified all around. 

Inviting family and friends to another type of party, and then revealing the true nature of the event in due course, can circumvent lots of issues, and the shock effect can be delightful and spectacular.  There can be significant cost savings both to the couple, in having a party without some of the extra expensive trimmings of many wedding receptions, and to guests who don’t need to purchase unneeded one-time-wear formal wedding outfits.

 Second & Third Marriages
When there is a second or third trip down the aisle for one or both members of a couple, the wedding often differs sharply from the preceding ceremonies.  This ceremony can be more elaborate, more informal, more fun, more engaging, and more meaningful. Anything goes as you're clearly putting your imprint on a fresh start.


Reconnected after 20 years - link to their Beach Wedding Video to learn why she's laughing   

Rick can provide an opportunity to involve children from the prior marriage(s), which can help solidify their buy-in to the new family.  

A quiet elegant elopement ceremony is another option, where the new couple will manage the communications with everyone later.



 Unity Candles, Sand Crystals, Wine Ceremonials, Chocolates

Integrating a Unity candle into a wedding ceremony is symbolic of the uniting of the two families.

It involves two side candles, which are usually tapers, and a pillar candle which serves as the Unity Candle.

Often, the mothers of the bride and groom are asked to light the taper candles.
Then either they or the two people getting married light the main candle together from the tapers, signifying the union of their two families.

Candles are used almost exclusively in an indoor setting, as winds play havoc with the flames outdoors.


The Sand Ceremony is a beautiful

alternative to the Unity Candle, especially if  the wedding is held out-of doors.  It is similarly powerful for the imagery that dramatizes the joining of your lives together before guests.                                                                                   

Two container are filled with different color sand that will represent families of the bride and groom.  The sands will all be poured into one larger vessel, representing the blending of the couple’s hearts and lives.                                                                                     

The symbolism implies: once joined, never separated.  Photographers can capture exceptional photos of the blending of these sand crystals by the bride and groom. 

When there are children from previous relationships, the parents may also want each child to have a container of different colored sand, and to have the children blend their sand with their parents to represent the blending into a new family.

Hobby, craft shops, and dollar stores, and on-line shops usuallly have all of the sand and vases that you will need. 


Elopements and Short-Notice Weddings - Link

 Baby Welcoming / Naming

A Baby Naming Ceremony is a warm welcoming celebration of the safe arrival of a new life, your precious gift. 

If you want to demonstrate this love for your child with a special family ritual, then Rick can develop and lead an appropriate ceremony to honor your child.


The ceremony may be held at a location of the  parents' choosing.  It can be in your home, a garden, a hotel, and with
Godparents or sponsors, family and friends celebrating the arrival of your child with you. 

Ceremonies can be held for children of any age - and adults too! -  however, they are held most frequently for children when they are two and under. 

Attendees are there to welcome your child into the world with open arms, and to jointly express their love, friendship, and support for the child and its parents. 

 Renewal of Vows Ceremonies

There are times when it's important to do something really special ... 
something out of the ordinary, something that is not necessary, but that we know will make us and those we care for feel richer and more fulfilled.
This is what vow renewals are all about.

While there can be many logical reasons to do so, vow renewal 
ultimately, comes from the heart, not the head.  When is it appropriate?
Actually, when isn't it?

One of the things that is often heard at a customized wedding ceremony is "I wish that we'd been able to get married like this back when we were wed.” or, “Next time I get married, I'm going to do something like this.” 

Well, without even changing partners, keeping the spouse that you've already got, you may want to tell the person you've loved all this
time just how much better life is because of him or her.

Perhaps now is the time.  


Rick was delighted to participate in the renewal of vows for a couple who, at their tenth anniversary, were able to have the flowers, the dresses and tuxes, and the reception that had not been possible when they first married – as students on scholarships.

If a significant anniversary is coming up for you or your parents, perhaps a special, unique celebration is in order.  It is important in life to take time to pause, reflect and reaffirm. 

If you've come through difficult times with the love of your life, perhaps the most emotionally satisfying thing that you could do would be to reaffirm what you mean to each other. 

Say it between yourselves and in the company those who also mean something to you!

A renewal of vows is also ideal for a couple who were married abroad, but wish to have a celebration for those family and friends who were unable to attend the wedding.


Some couples choose to take the very same vows as when they first wed. Most write new vows to reflect where they are now in life.  Sometimes new rings are purchased for the occasion. People who are special in your lives at this time can take part in the ceremony.

There are wonderful ways to involve your children, grandchildren, guests from your wedding, or other friends and relatives in the ceremony. 

Any married couple, of any age and married for any length of time, can arrange a Renewal of Marriage Vows ceremony.  Ceremonies generally last between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the number of options and the readings chosen.

         Northern California as a
                          Wedding Destination -- Link

 Memorial Celebrations / Funeral Services

BAY AREA CEREMONIES will assist you as you hold your Memorial services in any appropriate setting, such as a private home, a garden, a beach, a funeral home, or the graveside.

Rick works gently with you to find just the right approach and wording to honor your wishes, as you celebrate the life of your family member or friend. He work a with family members to learn about the deceased's unique characteristics, and help you weave them into an engaging tribute.  

He brings his ability to balance dignity with warmth, and gentle humor as appropriate.

Officiant for Weddings, Baby-Welcoming, Memorial Ceremonies





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