Hello and congratulations! I am Jeddah Vailakis, a NY Interfaith Minister and Wedding Celebrant ordained in 2002 by what is now One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City. In the last several years, I have had the great privilege of working with hundreds of very diverse couples during one of the most joyous times of their lives – a time of new beginnings and boundless possibilities. Every one of these couples has helped me believe in love and life just a little bit more.
I found my heart’s work in the Fall of 2002 when I performed my first wedding ceremony. I remember it as if it was yesterday. A non-religious, Chinese couple at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn with 300 guests! My knees were slightly shaking but it was one of the most joyous and heartfelt experiences I have ever had. Six months later, I was a full time wedding minister.
How I came to this wonderful work: I was born in Crete, Greece, in what was a magical childhood, splitting my time between a small village and the city of Chania. My sense of beauty, love for ritual, as well as love for the earth and all the creatures on it were formed during those early years and stay deeply rooted in me today.
I remember two types of people growing up, those who prayed, and those who mistrusted organized religion and found their refuge in reason rather than faith. Heated religious and political arguments were very much a part of Greek life – they were and are vital to the culture and passion of the people. One side of the argument always needed the other, and it was not uncommon during these arguments to be joking and clicking a wine glass at the same time.
These experiences deeply shaped me. I understood on a very deep level that beneath the different belief systems and points of view was another vast, spacious area of being. People have the ability to argue and disagree but also pass a piece of bread to one another. They can be very charged over an issue but also ask how the family is doing. What was this place that spoke more about what it means to be human and beyond concept or ideas? This is what interested me, and continues to interest me and feed my spirit. The place where we meet as human beings, regardless of our religion or non-belief, regardless of our culture and all the other attributes that we sometimes tightly hold on to as being the essence of who we are.
That place which makes it possible for people to marry from different races, cultures, religions, economic backgrounds etc. is the place of the heart. When we see the other with the eyes of the heart, it is the highest seeing of all. And that is what I get to witness each and every time I meet a new couple. And so as much as I offer as a minister, I am also profoundly fed by this work.
My simple beginnings in Greece found its strongest reflection in Buddhism as it has central in its teachings the interconnectedness of all of life, basic goodness and the importance of being truly present. Of course, all religions state these basic principles. They are all jewels with their own language and metaphors. I honor them all. There are countless roads to developing our basic goodness including non-religious paths.
I name some of my influences with deep gratitude for their timeless teachings: Pir Zia Inayat Khan, Thich Nhat Hanh, Trungpa Rinpoche, Pema Chodron as well as Dr. Harville Hendrix who has done profound work on couplehood, as well as the beloved Irish poet, philosopher and priest, John O’Donohue.
|It is said that swans mate for life||“May my heart be your shelter,
and my arms be your home”
Rev. Jeddah Vailakis, NY Interfaith Minister,
NY Marriage Officiant, NY Wedding Celebrant
Marriage is a pathway of the heart. A profound act of commitment and trust when we make the decision to walk the earth alongside our loved one. We are asked to extend our caring beyond the care of ourselves to the care of another living human being. To look across the table and realize that there is another person there. To make decisions with the awareness that they will affect two people, not one. When we allow ourselves to enter that space in our hearts of being fully aware and embracing of another, we find that love can soften us as well as strengthen us, help us fly as well as deeply root us. We can come into the fulness of our being with the believing eyes of our loved one as well as grow in compassion, forgiveness and countless other ways that are unique to our relationship.
Sometimes love seems to ask everything of us. Most importantly it asks us to let down the guard, let down the defenses. To relinquish being right and cultivate enough compassion so that we can understand what our partner is feeling. Because it is only through understanding and truly seeing our partner that true love is possible. If you have arrived at this point, it most likely means that you have said “yes” to each other. “Yes” means, “I trust in your goodness”, “I trust in our love”. It does not mean shutting down when things get difficult. It means that when difficult times arise, we have a choice. We are standing on a threshold with two decisions. Here lies the greatest opportunity. To soften and find your way back to one another or to retreat within yourself.
I wish you time and time again to make the decision to return home to one another. With every difficulty, however minor, however big, may your love deepen and your compassion grow . May you become each other’s greatest supporter. When you look in the mirror, may you see yourself with the eyes of your beloved. Beautiful and whole with countless possibilities before you. And when you return home after a days work, may you never take for granted the person that you are coming home to. May you always know in your heart that grace and blessings have been showered upon you.
In deep appreciation for being witness to your union,
Quotes About Marriage
A portion of your soul has been entwined with mine. A gentle kind of togetherness, while separate we stand. As two trees deeply rooted in separate plots of ground, while their topmost branches come together, forming a miracle of lace against the heavens
“Two Trees” by Janet Miles
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you,so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
Sonnett #17 from 100 Sonnets by Pablo Neruda
A true marriage is an act of transformation, a profound mystery of creation and rebirth as two loves are blended into one”
Reverend Diane Berke
I love you, for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite so far enough to find”