A castle, a micro wedding, and a T-Rex

A T-Rex at a Wedding?

As a wedding officiant in New York, I have performed more than 1,500 weddings and Vow Renewals and this was a first.  It turns out my couple met online and part of what brought them together was their mutual passion for Jurrasic Park.  After having to postpone their nuptials numerous times due to Covid-19, they finally planned their micro-wedding in Westchester at Whitby Castle.

Looking for a Venue for your Micro-Wedding in New York?

Wedding Venue in New York
Castle Wedding in New York

Only 30 minutes from NYC, Whitby Castle in Rye, NY is the perfect venue for your fairytale wedding.  These days when you are planning your wedding it is so important to consider the safety of your guests.  Many venues are adapting to these new safety standards and are now offering small, intimate weddings for you to celebrate your big day.

New York Venues Offering Small Weddings

Central Park is the perfect option year-round for your intimate wedding.  If you’re looking for a venue where your guests can attend your ceremony and have a socially-distanced reception, the following New York venues are offering packages for your big day:

  1. Water Club (Manhattan)
  2. 620 Loft & Garden (Manhattan)
  3. Wythe Hotel (Brooklyn)
  4. My Moon Restaurant (Brooklyn)
  5. Midtown Loft & Terrace (Manhattan)

For Officiant and Pre-Marital Counseling services, contact Rev. Dr. Samora Smith for a consultation to discuss your needs.  Dr. Samora is an award-winning wedding officiant in New York and offers ceremonies for multi-faith, non-denominational, LGBTQ weddings and Vow Renewals.  

Email:  rev.samora@gmail.com

Phone: (646) 736-2510

Elopement in New York City

Are you engaged and overwhelmed with the idea of planning a big wedding?  We totally get it.  Being engaged is so exciting and when you are faced with countless questions and details about your future wedding, it can go from exciting to exhausting!!   What is your budget?  Do you want a wedding at a large venue or something simple with just family and friends.  The list goes on and on and sometimes it can be so overwhelming that many couples choose to elope and keep it really simple.  Why go through the stress of a million checklists, countless emails to shop for vendors, and let’s not forget the strain on your or your family’s pockets.

Eloping is trending like never before because the money you would spend on a big wedding can be used for a down payment on your first home together or you can have the month-long “honeymoon of your dreams”.  Could you imagine? Eloping is one of the most romantic options because you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourselves.  New York Elopements are the most romantic because you can get married anywhere in the city.  We have performed ceremonies on the Brooklyn Bridge, on top of the Empire State Building, in the middle of Times Square with thousands of onlookers and our fave…….Central Park!

Elopement in Central Park


New York City offers the most memorable places in the world in any season.  Couples love to get married at Christmas time under the tree at Rockefeller Center.  Central Park and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are full of Cherry Blossoms in the spring.  Our fave season is the fall when the leaves begin to change and the smell of apples and pumpkin spice is everywhere. Summer is spectacular in Central Park with endless locations to choose from.

Our New York Elopement packages fit any budget and start from as simple as “Marry Us Now” which is a step up from the courthouse to an elaborate experience that includes an officiant, a photographer, videographer, flowers, live music and even a romantic picnic in the park if that’s your style.  We will assist with all the details and help you secure the best location.

We also offer the same services for vow renewals if you have a special anniversary coming up.  Contact us today at (646)736-2510 to learn more about our services and let us help you create the wedding of your dreams.



10 Amazing Ways To Honor Mom At Your Wedding

With all the excitement of this past weekend’s Royal Wedding, we enjoy and celebrate two beautiful people whose love radiates and inspires us all.  It also brought our attention to the relationship of the new Princess and her mother Doria and of course honoring Prince Harry’s beloved mother, Princess Diana.  In celebration of our mother’s, we have compiled some beautiful ways for you to honor and include your mother’s, mother-in-laws and grandmothers on your wedding day.

  •  Have Mom Walk You Down The Aisle

The time-honored tradition of having the father give away their daughter at a wedding is not as standard as it used to be.  Many brides choose to have both parents walk them down the aisle and over the past few years,  we have seen many mother’s walk with their daughters alone.  If you still choose to have your father walk you down the aisle, it is beautiful to give your mother and mother-in-law the opportunity to make their own entrance and walk in the processional.

  • Ask Her To Do A Reading in The Ceremony

Your wedding ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate you as a couple but also the symbolic joining of two families.  Asking both mothers to do a reading is a beautiful way to include them in the ceremony.  If you are having a bilingual ceremony, one mother can speak in English and the other in the foreign language.  They can also take turns reading different passages from the same reading or they can choose to read something they have chosen just for you.  

  • Schedule A Special Day For You, your Mom and Mother-in-law

Many brides make time to celebrate with their bridesmaids and will include the other women in their lives at their bridal shower.  Scheduling a special meal or outing with your mother and future mother-in-law will also make them feel more included.  It will also give you all a chance to bond before the wedding day and look forward to future family celebrations.

  • Include Her in the Planning

There are so many lists and details that go into creating the perfect wedding day.  Having your mother or mother-in-law assist with some of those details will make them feel useful and appreciated.  If they love decorating and design, you can ask them to help with choosing colors, decor or flowers.  If they love to cook, include them in on menu planning and invite them to your tasting.  There are small items like invitations, place cards, etc. that you can have your moms assist with.

  • Have Mom Arrive in Style

As we saw in the Royal wedding, Meghan Markle’s mother escorted her daughter on her ride to the chapel.  After all, your wedding is also a day that should make your mother’s feel pampered and at their most beautiful.  If you are hiring a hair/makeup team for your bridesmaids, you should also offer this same treatment to your mother and mother-in-law.

  • Invite Moms to Light the Unity Candle

One of our favorite rituals is the Lighting of the Unity Candle.  This ritual holds it’s origins in the catholic faith but is also used as a non-religious symbol of two souls coming together to ignite the flame of their marriage.  This ceremony is a beautiful moment to invite your mother’s to light your individual candles which represent your individual selves. When they hand the lit candles to their children it represents the gift of life they have given to them and now set them off on their journey together.

  • Present a Gift or Flowers to Your Moms and Grandmothers

In many Asian cultures it is custom to present a gift to the parents during the nuptials.  There are many ways to also bring this idea to a non-traditional ceremony.  Mother’s and grandmothers can be honored and presented with flowers during the ceremony.

  • Have a Mother/Daughter Dance

In recent years, we have also seen many brides choose to also have a special dance with their mothers during the reception.  Many mother/daughter relationships are so close that it is not complete unless they share a special moment with their mothers.

  • Include Some of The Family Traditions

Prince Harry honored his mother by including many of her jewels in the engagement ring and adornments.  It is also rumored that all of the flowers used in the bridal bouquet and bridesmaids were from his garden and were in fact, his mother’s favorite flower, forget-me-nots.  Some couples incorporate family garments or jewelry in their ceremony garments or recite a special reading or song played during their parent’s weddings.

  • Display Pictures of Your Mothers’ Wedding Day

Photos of your parent’s wedding day is a wonderful way to honor the two families coming together.  For the couple who have parents that are deceased, a table or designated area that displays their photos and heirlooms, celebrating and honoring your family member’s memory on your special day.

If you are thinking about writing your own vows, click here to check out our guide “8 Steps to An Awesome Vow” and receive a special bonus as our gift to you!

Planning your Jewish/Catholic Wedding Ceremony?

Are you engaged and planning a wedding that incorporates your Jewish and Christian backgrounds?  Many of our couples face this challenge and do not know where to even begin.  Our experienced interfaith minister, Rev. Samora Smith has created and performed these type of ceremonies for hundreds of couples and offers some great advice.

First consider:

  1. Are either of you more religious than the other?
  2. Are you comfortable with the mention of Jesus or Adonai in the ceremony?
  3. Will you have a Rabbi & Priest present or an interfaith minister to represent both faiths?

Differences between a Jewish and Catholic Ceremony:

  1. Processional
    • Christian:  Groom waits at the Alter and Bride is walked by her father
    • Jewish: Groom and Bride are escorted by both parents
  2. Vows
    • Christian:  Bride and Groom recite vows and answer “I Do” in the ceremony
    • Jewish: Vows are not traditionally recited but are instead written on a Ketubah for the couple to sign in the presence of family and clergy before the public ceremony.
  3. Scripture Readings
    • Christian:  Most ceremonies include readings from the Old or New Testaments in the Christian bible
    • Jewish: The wedding ceremony does not include any scriptural readings
  4. The Pronouncement & Kiss
    • Christian:  Clergy will pronounce the couple married followed with “You may now kiss the Bride”
    • Jewish:  The Jewish wedding ceremony does not include a kiss but many modern couples have incorporated it into their ceremony.  Most Jewish ceremonies end with the “Breaking of the Glass”

Rituals and their Meaning

  • Christian
    • Lighting of the Unity Candle- Two tapers are lit for the couple and then a larger candle is lit by the couple to represent the joining of the two becoming one.
    • Bible Verses There are many bible verses that can be included in the ceremony.  (Corinthians 13, Ecclesiastes and Old Testament do not mention Jesus.)
  • Jewish
    • Ketubah- A contract containing promises that each promises to each other.  It is usually written on a beautiful piece of art for the couple to display in the home.
    • Chuppah-A four-pillared canopy that the ceremony will be performed under.
    • Kiddush Cup-The couple will share a cup of wine with a blessing
    • Breaking of the Glass- Usually done by the groom with the sentiment that it will take as long to put the glass back together as their relationship will last (forever)

As an experienced wedding officiant, many of my couples don’t know how to include both faiths in their wedding ceremony.  Your ceremony is an opportunity to show your families how your faiths are similar and honor your upbringing.  If you choose a ceremony that is less religious, you can incorporate some of the rituals as symbolic gestures to your faiths.

The Knot Best of Weddings 2017

We are so excited to announce our 6th year being chosen as The Knot Best of Weddings 2017 winner.  Each year brings new excitement and joy when we have the opportunity to marry couples from all over the world.  This year we won in New York City and Long Island.  Please contact Common Ground Ceremonies to assist you with your upcoming wedding, especially if you are interested in a personalized, heartfelt ceremony that truly celebrates you as a couple.  We offer all styles of ceremonies, marriage and pre-marital coaching and interfaith support.  We look forward to hearing from you.


The Wedding of Emmett & Claire

Emmett & Claire met while starring in the UK television show Hollyoaks.  They decided to have a small, intimate wedding here in NYC on New Year’s Eve at a unique warehouse-style wedding venue in midtown called Studio 450 .  Rev. Samora of Common Ground Ceremonies officiated the wedding ceremony in front of their closest family and friends.  The space was beautifully decorated with candles and a surprise flashmob Gospel Choir sang “Oh Happy Day” after the pronouncement and kiss.  Their wedding is featured in HELLO magazine. You can read the full article here.

The Knot-Best of Weddings “Hall of Fame” Award 2016

It has been an amazing journey from the moment I decided to become an Interfaith Minister back in 2005.  At that particular time I didn’t know where it would lead, but I knew that I had opened up myself to be of service to myself and others.  I still don’t define myself as religious but I feel blessed and liberated when I can assist people on their spiritual journey.  I began marrying couples in 2010 and it has been one of the most gratifying experiences.  I am so moved by all of the wonderful couples I meet, hearing their stories and always feel honored to bring their families together.  As a New York City Wedding Officiant, I have met people from all over the world, straight and gay who are overjoyed to finally marry the person they love.  I have won The Knot “Best of Weddings” award for the past 4 years and because of all of my amazing reviews, I am proud to announce that I have finally made The Knot “Hall of Fame” Award.  Happy New Year to everyone and please contact me at (646)709-2090 to discuss your upcoming celebration.