Thursday, January 23, 2014 | return to: supplement, celebrations


celebrations |  Couple touches down in Berkeley on ‘Wedding Tour 2013’

by debra rubin, jta

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Sometimes once is just not enough.

In less than a year, Dane Kuttler and Rowan Parker exchanged vows in 10 different wedding ceremonies at 10 different venues on two coasts under nine different marriage canopies.

Family and friends form a “human chuppah” in Berkeley.
Family and friends form a “human chuppah” in Berkeley.
In what Kuttler calls “Wedding Tour ’13,” the Seattle couple wanted to share their celebration with as many friends and family as possible while avoiding the pressures of one big party.

“It was fun,” Parker said. “We wanted to travel. We wanted to take a big vacation.”

One of the ceremonies took place Aug. 18 in Berkeley, under what the couple described as “a human chuppah” in the backyard of a family friend.

“We forgot my tallis,” said Kuttler, explaining that they planned to use it as the chuppah. So they improvised and had guests raise their arms over them.  

Second to last on “the big tour,” the Berkeley ceremony, which had a theme of Chinese food and parlor games, was comprised of about 15 guests, including Parker’s mother, family and a college friend.

“By the time we got to Berkeley, there was no anxiety to make everything perfect,” Kuttler said. “We had done everything right somewhere at least once and even though we were exhausted, there was a feeling that this ceremony was  kind of a victory lap.”

The couple first exchanged vows last February in the Florida apartment of Kuttler’s grandmother, under a tallit she had used when she became an adult bat mitzvah. Another ceremony was held over Memorial Day weekend in a waterfront town west of Seattle that Parker’s Unitarian family has been visiting since he was a child.

The largest was held in August at the Van Saun Park zoo in Paramus, N.J., where Kuttler grew up. Like most of the ceremonies, it was outdoors and the couple’s parents held a chuppah made from a prayer shawl belonging to Kuttler’s mother.

The final ceremony was held the day after Rosh Hashanah in a Seattle park.

In total, some 150 people witnessed the couple exchange vows.

“I’m against the legal institution that confers special rights on those who choose to monogamously cohabitate,” said Kuttler, who concedes the main reason the couple married was to add Parker to her insurance plan. “These things are meaningful — maybe more to my family than to me. But my parents did say, ‘We’re not throwing a barbecue for the whole family unless there’s a reason.’”

Kuttler alternated among three sundresses at the ceremonies, while Parker, a preschool teacher who identifies as transgender, wore a black Utilikilt, a version of the traditional Scottish attire with pockets for tools.

“I don’t consider myself traditionally gendered, so it was a way of playing with my gender,” said Parker, 28. “The Utilikilt, at least in Seattle, is a very masculine symbol, but in other parts of the country can be seen as a skirt.”

Each ceremony included two readings — a poetic interpretation of the traditional seven blessings and a Unitarian reading. Parker broke a glass and the couple recited vows they had written. None of the ceremonies included an officiant.

“Somehow it was important to me that it has always been just the two of us under the chuppah, that there not be a third-party officiant,” said Kuttler, 27, a poet who works as a cancer information specialist for the National Cancer Institute.

Legal status was conferred by Parker’s mother, Lynn, a minister in the Universal Life Church. The couple had told her they wanted some assistance with insurance forms. “When we showed up with the marriage certificate, we blindsided her,” Parker said.

Kuttler’s father, David, said his daughter’s wedding was vastly different from the one her sister Liora had in October.

“For Liora’s, I was in a tuxedo,” he said. “Dane’s, I was in shorts. It was very different. Kind of bizarre, but fun.”

J. staff writer Abra Cohen contributed to this story.


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