Pride of Place Weddings is a business committed to the work of anti-racism.
I understand the responsibility of this business as one owned and operated by a white queer woman in the South, in an industry that overwhelmingly focuses advertising, energy and services to white vendors and couples, to be one of anti-racism. I commit myself and my work in this business specifically to the continuous learning and action needed to do anti-racist work. I commit myself and this business to the understanding that anti-racist work always contains an understanding of the way racism lives internally within me, and a commitment to fighting it internally and externally.
In order to remain true to this pledge, Pride of Place Weddings will:
1. Donate 10% of its annual income to BIPOC-centered bail out funds, the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter, or another similar local organization focused on anti-racist work. These donations will be be made in annual installments each Spring, beginning Spring 2021, when we file our annual taxes.
2. Never take part in a plantation wedding. Ever. This includes plantation-style weddings and weddings at venues that were never operational plantations but are intended to replicate a plantation.
3. Strive to pair any BIPOC client who is seeking an officiant who shares their racial, religious, or cultural identity with an appropriate officiant. We will never put our desire to book clients for our own services over the need to book clients with vendors and officiants who are affirming and reflective of yourselves and your communities, so that you can have the wedding you most deserve.
If you have any questions or feedback about our anti-racism pledge, please feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maria Michonski, MDiv.
Wedding Officiant & Planner
Maria Michonski (she/her/hers) is a homegrown, queer, Nashville-based wedding officiant and planner. She obtained her Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2019, with an accompanying master's level certificate in Religion, Gender and Sexuality. She earned a B.A. in Theological Studies and Women's & Gender Studies from Saint Louis University in 2016.
Maria dreamed Pride of Place Weddings into being near the end of her time at Vanderbilt Divinity School. With primary areas of study in queer liberation ethics and Catholic liberation theology, and as an out, queer woman in a complicated relationship with her own Catholicism, Maria knew she wanted to create sacred experiences and spaces for folks who have been pushed to the margins of and excluded from traditional religious spaces. Having officiated weddings since 2016, and with a passion for event planning and coordination, wedding planning and officiating for LGBTQIA+ folks and for cisgender and straight folks who want to have LGBTQIA+-friendly weddings felt like a natural vocational path forward. When Maria married her partner, Jay, in 2017, she experienced first hand the process of planning a wedding while navigating a Church that would not welcome and celebrate her marriage as a queer person to a queer person. She wants to use that personal experience to help other LGBTQIA+ folks craft wedding celebrations that affirm who they are in every way.
Maria is ordained to officiate weddings through American Marriage Ministries. Originally ordained in 2016, Maria had her ordination renewed in person in 2019, and so can legally perform marriage ceremonies in all 50 states within the United States (including, most importantly, the state of Tennessee, where Pride of Place Weddings is based).
"Whether I officiate your wedding or plan every single detail of the day, from preparations to ceremony to party, I cannot wait to get to know you and your story, and work with you to plan what will undoubtedly be one of the most important days of your lives together!"
Pride of Place Weddings: What We Do and Why
Pride of Place Weddings is an LGBTQIA+-centered wedding planning and officiating business based in Nashville, TN. Our mission is to provide sacred and celebratory wedding experiences for LGBTQIA+ clients and for clients to want their weddings to be safe, affirming, and comfortable for their LGBTQIA+ friends and family. Our services are intended to adapt to clients of all or no religious and spiritual backgrounds as much as we are able; we are always willing to coordinate with other religious and spiritual leaders when possible to uphold this commitment. We offer a variety of different packages for wedding officiating, wedding planning, and combinations of the two to meet the unique needs of each couple we work with.
Pride of Place Weddings is born of a desire to create affirming, meaningful wedding experiences for LGBTQIA+ folks, as we are often faced with unique challenges in finding affirming wedding officiants (especially for religious ceremonies) and vendors. Our name is drawn from a section of The Queer Bible Commentary, in which Thomas Bonache expands on the gospel of Matthew: "For Jesus' queer audience, it becomes clear that Jesus affirms the loyalty to justice and truth that supersedes the traditional family. In God's 'kin-dom,' non-traditional relationships are given pride of place, for they are often more authentic because they are not in thrall to patterns of domination (Isasi-Diaz 2003: 163)" (Bohache, Thomas. "Matthew." The Queer Bible Commentary. SCM Press, London: 2006. 509). When our founder, Maria, was looking for a name for her business, this passage seemed to perfectly sum up her hopes: that this work would create a "pride of place" for LGBTQ folks in spaces we are not typically celebrated or welcome, namely in weddings in the American South. While this is drawn from Christian Biblical origins, we understand this concept to extend to our non-Christian and non-religious/spiritual community members in that we consider all LGBTQIA+ people, especially those who identify outside of or who are pushed out of Christian religious communities, to be sacred and to hold a space of pride and dignity in the world that expands beyond religious precepts and limitations.
If you've found your love, of any gender or sexual orientation, we are here to celebrate with you. Let us accompany you on the journey to the day you commit to each other and celebrate with your family and friends. If you simply need a confirmed affirming officiant to make your marriage legal, we're here for you. If you're looking for someone to solemnize your wedding and to incorporate your deepest selves, we can work with you to craft a ceremony that incorporates all the most important parts of you as individuals and as a couple, and includes all of your most significant hopes and dreams for your life together. If you're looking for someone to walk you through each and every detail of the planning process for your wedding day and celebration, we can provide vetting for and coordination with LGBTQIA+-friendly vendors and can weave together every detail from food to photography to flowers to make your day every bit as special as you deserve.
We are a Featured Vendor with Catalyst Wedding Co., a Preferred Vendor with Dancing with Her, and a Recommended Vendor with Dancing with Them. We couldn't be more thrilled to work with these amazing partners in the industry to help connect us with lovers who could use our services!
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