we asked other wedding professionals about Rev. Barbara Laughray,
we got this reply over and over: "When I get married I want her
to perform the ceremony."
The reason her peers, and indeed so many couples, choose Rev. Barbara
to marry them is no mystery: she changes lives. She is a charismatic
speaker whose words are filled with the love, support and tenderness
she feels for her brides and grooms and their families. She is able
to help couples clarify what is really important to them, and guide
them to an understanding of the wedding ceremony as not just a one-time
ritual between two people, but a lifetime commitment to themselves,
their families and their communities. In short, she awakens her
clients to the higher purpose of marriage.
"If you're looking for a left-brain ceremony, I'm probably the wrong
person for you," says Rev. Barbara. "For me, the wedding ceremony
is completely right-brain-it's an art form." She meets with each
couple twice, but by the end of the first meeting she's already
established a comfortable intimacy with them. "Often couples don't
know what they're looking for when they come in, but they tell me
they feel like they've found it by the time they leave," she confides.
Though each ceremony is individually tailored to reflect the values
of the bride and groom, a constant theme running through every one
is the power of unconditional love. Rev. Barbara's ceremonies are
organic creations. She doesn't speak from a book or a prepared piece,
but from the heart. Always present in the moment, she's able to
draw on the emotions, humor and energy all around her to express
words that touch people profoundly. What she says is extremely personal
to the bride and groom, but it is also meaningful for everyone in
attendance. Friends and family walk away from her ceremonies sensing
that they've received a gift too.
Rev. Barbara started out as a traditional pastor, with her own church.
But several years ago she realized that her true calling was nurturing
relationships. And that means her ministry doesn't stop when she
says, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Many of the couples
she has married have become lifelong friends, and have returned
for marriage counseling over the years. She has baptized many of
their babies, and has also performed memorial services when a family
member has passed away. And as a mother of a blended family (with
six kids), she is also gifted at working with people who remarry.
Rev. Barbara was ordained in the Church of Religious Science, but
her appeal is ecumenical. One of her specialties is interfaith marriage,
during which she encourages couples to take part in each others
religions and family traditions. "I don't pretend to be an expert
on the world's religions," she says. "What I am good at is seeing
the silver thread that is common to all."
former Tournament of Roses Queen unquestionably found her own higher
purpose in life. Her scrapbooks are filled with heartfelt testimonials
from couples expressing their thanks: "The love that exuded from
you set a welcoming tone that carried throughout the night. Compliments
keep pouring in for your originality and personal contributions
to our ceremony. A few times our guests asked us if you were a family
friend. We told them you are now!"