Hey everybody welcome to the wedding ceremony podcast we talk about anything and everything that has to do with wedding ceremonies. This is episode number 308 recorded on Tuesday March the 30th 2021. My name is Clint Hufft and with me is a gentleman that's excited about our special guest, the one and only JP Reynolds.
JP Reynolds 0:18
I am very excited to begin our conversation with Carly. yes yes yes yes
I will introduce Carly in just one second. I just want to remind everybody that JP is an accomplished author. His books are in the amazon store and in the kindle store in amazon. He is a communications expert. thebusinessofconfidence.com is that website. His wedding website is JPRweddings.com. Mine is reverendclint.com or clinthufft.com for all the things that I do. I mentioned our special guest there is no reason to hold back any longer all the way from North Carolina, she is Carly Miller. Carly, how are you?
Carly Miller 1:01
I'm great, how are y’all.
Oh life is fantastic.
JP Reynolds 1:03
Now that you're with us we're great.
Carly, you were referred to us because you are an officiant in North Carolina. So just tell us a little bit about what you do in that capacity where you are.
Carly Miller 1:20
Absolutely yeah. So I am a wedding officiant. My business name is Magical Weddings by Carly so you can find me there, instagram, facebook, google and I am a member of the LGBTQIA+ community so I'm really excited about serving serving couples that are in the community with me and also educating my fellow wedding pros about how to better better serve them. I'm also a big big geek nerd. I like Disney. I'm a Hufflepuff. I like doing fun themed wedding ceremonies. I've got a halloween batman ceremony coming up this year that I'm super excited about so those are really my main passions and I just I love having fun with my with my queer geeky nerdy folks.
JP Reynolds 2:10
Well, I just am fascinated with your story because you majored in biology as an undergraduate yes?
JP Reynolds 2:23
And then were you at Duke for your undergraduate work?
Carly Miller 2:27
I was actually at UNC Chapel Hill. Everyone hates me here because I went to both UNC chapel hill and Duke and so there's lots of tension there during basketball season but I don't pick a side.
JP Reynolds 2:42
I love that. So you majored in biology and then you went on for a master's in theological studies.
I did yeah.
I’m just fascinated by the combination and what brought you into theological studies and had you thought about officiating when you began your studies?
Carly Miller 3:14
I majored in biology at UNC chapel hill and I minor in Native American studies and Jewish studies and I was really intrigued by the Jewish studies. That was a minor I think I actually added my senior year. I took a class that was like one of the general ed requirements of like world diversity or something, I can't remember exactly what it was, but I just absolutely loved it. I spent a little time after I graduated trying to find a job doing stuff in biology because I also really love that. I'm really passionate about that and it is just super competitive here in the Raleigh durham chapel hill triangle areas is sort of like the the center of like science with major research institutes and so it was just really hard. I couldn't get into anything without having a master's degree. So I was like well I started thinking about a master's degree and I was really torn between pursuing the Jewish studies more and biology more and so ultimately I decided that I wanted to go for the masters of theological studies because I just really really love the Hebrew bible, old testament Judaism. things like that. I am not Jewish. I consider myself interfaith, multi-faith. I really love all religions and spiritualities and get a lot of good learning about them. I’d had experience taking sort of free community, open to community classes at Duke divinity school and it had a really good experience. They're very, Well, they're fairly progressive and in terms of being accepting of science and LGBT people for the most part. And so my initial plan was to go on to get a doctorate and teach Hebrew Bible Old Testament. But after I got into school, I was super disappointed and burnt out with the academic competitive kind of cut throat, work yourself to death kind of competition type environment that was there. And also, despite, saying that they're very LGBT friendly and black friendly, that my peers, I'm a white person but my peers of color were treated not super great. And LGBT people are not treated super great there. And so I was just, it was really disappointing because I thought it was a really, really liberal school. But you know, all those old Duke money's coming from old white is sysadmin. So the school doesn't want to do anything too radical to upset their donors, which I should maybe not be saying this, but what are they going to do to me?
Then I was like, well, crap. I'm like, yeah, I'm almost done with this degree. I don't know what I'm gonna do with it. I am a more multi-faith kind of person. So I didn't really want to, like start a church or be in a church. And then I attended my little brother's wedding, and it was so beautiful. I love him. I love my sister in law, all my family friends, this is pre COVID. And just seeing the love of, not just the romantic love but the family and friends and community and everybody just coming together. It was just such a lovely day. And I've always liked weddings for that reason.
I started talking to some of my friends about like, Whoa, what do you think about me like being a wedding officiant because most of my friends are in the LGBT community, or they're kind of weird, geeky, nerdy, like kind of offbeat, either not religious or sort of have their own personal beliefs that don't necessarily align with anything. And I looked around at what officiants in the area we're doing, and I didn't see anybody, but most of the officients I saw were like, very geared towards heterosexual couples, and they're like, but we'll also do gay weddings. And so I wanted to switch that around and be like I want to do all the gay, queer, trans weddings. And I'll also do straight weddings. And it's been really, really good. I feel really blessed to be able to do what I do. I get a lot of LGBT couples that say, picking out an officiant was like the hardest or most stressful part and they were really worried about it and worried about trying to find someone that would respect them and, use their pronouns correctly and then they found me and they were super happy. I love working with them. I haven't looked back. I thought I was like, oh, let's try and see if there's interest. And there's been a lot of interest and a lot of need and in the community that I'm really happy to fill.
JP Reynolds 8:25
I have to say. And I I don't think I've ever said this to a guest before. I love the photos on your website.
Carly Miller 8:37
JP Reynolds 8:39
I hate the way I look in photos. I shouldn't say but I we all, well, Clint is very photogenic. But we all try to find photos where we look happy, where we look, the day is joyful. I have to say you radiate in all of your photos.
Carly Miller 9:01
Thank you so much. I really do. I feel like I don't necessarily believe in like a singular purpose or destiny. But, I feel like this is something I was meant to do and I just absolutely love it. And I love my couples, like each couple I get. I'm like how are they just as amazing as the other couple? Like when I started I was a little worried about bridezillas and such, but everybody has been so wonderful and I really love them all so much and I'm so grateful to have been able to work with them.
I'm guessing that is kind of like a two way street, that the fact that you're so open and loving to them considering what other things they may have experienced in their lifetime, right? The fact that they find you not just loving but accepting and giving and everything else that we've just experienced so far, just the short time you've been on this podcast, that it's got to affect the way they treat you.
Carly Miller 9:59
Yeah, Probably so, because it's really hard, especially in North Carolina, I'm in a pretty liberal bubble, the RaleighDurham Chapel Hill area tends to be more liberal than the rest of the state and more rural areas. Even around here every few months, I see something in the news that some sort of venue or wedding planner, somebody has, like publicly stated that they're not going to serve LGBT couples. And people think like, especially people who have grown up in Durham their whole life, they're like, Well, of course, we serve LGBT couples. And I'm like, Well, you can't really take that for granted. Because I see multiple times a year that people in this area, and not to even mention outside of this area, There are tons of people that are like, we adhere like Christian values, which just drives me crazy, because I've actually done lots of Christian LGBT weddings, because that's what the couple wanted. I don't suggest any religious ceremonies or anything, but the couples that, straight or LGBT will come to me and want a religious ceremony. I'm super happy to do that.
But yeah, it's hard. I've talked to a lot of vendors around here that I'm like, you should either have pictures of same sex couples in your social media, or on your website, or have some sort of statement that says, like, are open to all couples, including the LGBT community, because it's really hard when couples are trying to find someone they don't want to have to ask, are you going to serve serve a same sex couple? And have the risk of the answer being No, because that's just so so horrible, especially if you've grown up in a rural area, or even not so rural, where I mean, they're a church, there are plenty of churches around here that don't believe in same sex couples, or they say that it's okay to be gay, but like, they don't want you to get married, or all sorts of yucky stuff like that.
I would imagine that you're so upfront about the LGBTQ services that I'm looking at, like JP, I'm looking at the photos on your website. And even the straight couples, I don't even know if that's the correct term. But they all seem just really happy. And I would imagine the fact that you stayed up front, how open you are, and everybody that you want to serve really connects to those couples that in their own way, are having trouble finding compatibility amongst other officiants or other wedding services? Does that make sense?
Carly Miller 12:56
Yeah, absolutely. And like, even just some of the couples that you look at that might appear like a straight couple to you, a lot of couples come to me and say, we're a man and a woman getting married, but we both identify as bisexual. And that's really important to us. And we want to include something about like, sometimes they like the marriage equality reading has some really pretty passages in it, like from the Supreme Court, or, they want to somehow include or reference to the fact that they have a queer identity, even though it looks like a straight marriage from from the outside. So yeah, and also a lot of folks will say, we're so glad we found you, because, my brother is gay, or my cousin is gay, and they're going to be in the wedding party, and we don't want anybody that's gonna treat them badly on our wedding day. And so it may be, even the straight couples have people in their lives that are important to them. And that just equality in general is important to them, even if they don't have a direct relative like me. Their values align with mine. I think that helps me attract really awesome couples, they are all the best. I tell people that all the time that every couple I marry is the best.
JP Reynolds 14:17
So currently, when Clint and I have talked about how we each have similar yet different process for getting to know a couple and helping them tailor a ceremony to the individual couple in front of us. Could you tell us a little bit about how you would go about getting to know the couple, do you have a process for putting together the ceremony, all that good stuff?
Carly Miller 14:51
Yeah, sure. So definitely, I wanted to not get through this podcast without saying whatever you do, whoever you are, if you're a florist, if you're a caterer, officiant, photographer. Ask what your couple’s pronouns are, at some point, like whether it's in your little contact form, or if you have some sort of info sheet that they fill out, because unfortunately, every wedding that I've worked with that's had a trans person in it has had someone to miss gender than like, it might have just been the florist dropping off the flowers that were like, congrats, ladies. And they meant it in the best way possible. But I'm like, oh, only one of those people identifies as a woman and the other one is non binary and uses they then pronouns and doesn't identify as a lady. And so it's really hard. But then as I'm trying to get ready for the ceremony, I'm like, do I run out? Like I overhear this? And I'm like, do I run over and correct the florist? Or do it like that? They're leaving? And like, do we have this whole conversation about it? And I think people in general are pretty good with gay and lesbian couples, but not as good with trans couples. And it's just really easy to ask pronouns. So that's like my number one thing is at some point in either your intake form or contact form or something, just have a little box for pronouns, you can have it like right after name, like name, pronoun, wedding date, any other How did you find me any other comments like that? And then, so that's the main thing I wanted to say. And then I also always offer free consultations and sort of getting to know the couple and getting to know if they have any sort of religious, spiritual, cultural beliefs or traditions that they want to incorporate. I offer up lots of examples of if they say no, that they don't really have anything in particular, I tried to mention the possibility of doing a unity ceremony of some kind, like a tree planting, or handfasting, or sand blending or something. And it's really funny, because I feel like couples are super divided on those. They're either like, that's the cheesiest thing I've ever heard. Or they're like, I love it so much. Can we do like three different ones? So I'm always a little hesitant to ask, because people, I'm very strong opinions about those things. But I think that they're fun. But I understand that every couple is different. And so I never make any assumptions, whether it's a straight couple or an LGBT couple, I always ask, is someone walking you down the aisle? Are you gonna walk down the aisle together or separate or by yourselves or like, I try not to make any assumptions about what, like, if they have a dad, or if the dad’s still living or maybe a straight couple, or a same sex couple might want to walk in together rather than someone like giving them away. And oftentimes, they haven't thought about a lot of these things. And so sometimes they're like, I'll have you know, I'll have to get back to you about that. So just kind of make some notes to follow up with them on seeing what they thought, and I just tried to give lots of different options, especially if people are like, Oh, I don't know how to walk in and I'm like, well, there's so many really, really tons of options. And then sometimes people, I've noticed that a lot of same sex couples don't want to exchange rings, for whatever reason, either they don't like rings as a piece of jewelry, or they have commitment rings from like, before gay marriage was legal, if it's an older couple that's been together a long time, and they just don't want to exchange like new rings. And that's something I wasn't expecting. So now I asked couples like, are you exchanging rings? Because oftentimes, the answer is we'd rather not exchange rings. And, so sometimes I'll offer a you could exchange like if they're a Crafty Crafty couple or something and like, you could maybe exchange a little gift or something instead, or I just cut it out if you know if that's what they want. And then always ask if there's any particular geeky nerdy interest like Disney or Batman, or Harry Potter or whatever. And if so far, I have already been educated on all of the things that people want to include. There was a couple who wanted a video game themed ceremony and I'm not as fluent in video games, but I have tons of video gamer friends, so I just messaged all of them. And we're like, do you have any ideas about like, cool video game stuff I could add to the wedding. And they I played more video games as a child and they actually one of their games is one of the games they really liked this one I'd played as a child and so I incorporated that and they just they loved it. And I had a really fun time, as well.
I've been doing this for A long time, a really long time. And I'm taking notes. You're teaching me right now.
This is great. So glad.
I love what I do. And like I said, I know I definitely attract kind of, I use the word weird with the most loving, like, because I consider myself kind of a weird person. And so my couples are kinda weird too and I really love that. And so, whenever anybody's like, Oh, is it too weird if our vows are like video game themed? And I'm like, No, absolutely not. That's amazing. I love it. Or somebody's like, we really want you to talk about dinosaurs a lot in the ceremony. Awesome. That's, like, super happy to see that. Like, as long as it's something I know something about. I did my first pagan ceremony last year. And that was not something I really knew anything about at all. But I was like, happy. I bought some books, read some books about it, saw what it meant to them because, just like any religion, you can be kind of loosely affiliated with it, or real serious about it. And they were kind of somewhere in the middle. And so I love learning like that's why I've got my, biology, Native American Studies, Divinity School, degree. I love learning about stuff. So anytime a couple comes to me with something that I don't know anything about, I'm like, Great. I'll read a book on it. I'll Google it. I'll read some articles. I just have a great time with it.
You know, I feel so happy for the area that you serve. So lucky that they have you. I almost have a little bit sad that the rest of the country doesn't have access to you yet. Because you're spectacular.
Oh, thank you so much. I really, really love what I do. And I'm glad to be able to share.
JP Reynolds 21:49
Well, it comes through. And I also love how you have embraced your as you put on your website, the nerd. Yeah, I must admit, when I read it, I was like, Oh, wow. Because it's sprinkled throughout your website and it's just something so engaging, and, heartwarming.
Carly Miller 22:31
I mean, it's been really important in my life. I love going to like little local Comic Cons. I haven't been to like the big one in California, but I love dressing up. I love cosplaying. I find that community to be super welcoming, and very intriguing and supportive of one another. And it also overlaps a lot with the LGBT community. And so yeah, it's something that I really love. And it's maybe a little bit weird, but there's so many people that are into it. And so my people find me and I'm glad that they do.
Well, we're almost out of time. And I would imagine there's gonna be people, especially after listening to this conversation, who will want to reach out to you Carly. What's the best way for them to do that?
Carly Miller 23:21
Yeah, sure. So my Instagram is magical weddings by Carly. And you can find me there on Facebook as well. My website is www.CarlyJaneMiller.com. And there's a contact form on there. My email is also Carly@CarlyJaneMiller.com and I'm super happy. I'm really trying to get into more LGBT education for wedding professionals. I've run a few clubhouse rooms so I'm also on clubhouse set at magical weddings. I don't think it has by Carly because I think that was too many characters but magical weddings on clubhouse and so definitely if you have any questions about about serving the LGBT community, especially trans clients, then I am more than happy to answer them.
Brilliant. Anything else JP?
JP Reynolds 24:16
Just quickly, last question in 25 words or less. Who is the Harry Potter character that you want to cosplay officiate in or with?
Carly Miller 24:31
So, I'm a Hufflepuff and I have like full Hufflepuff robes, the socks, all the stuff and I would love to wear that sometime. It's really just me, the character is me going to Hogwarts as me.
JP Reynolds 24:48
The word has been put out.
Well, there you go, everybody. That's the way it works here at the wedding ceremony podcast. We are so so appreciative that Carly has been with us today and I have a feeling that it will not be the last time. I think we're going to get a round two in the future. Well everybody you can hear all of our episodes on our website WeddingCeremonyPodcast.com and they're arranged chronologically, the most recent one is at the top. That's also where you can send us an email let us know who you want us to talk to, what you would like us to talk about, or tell us a story. Any way you want to communicate with us it's all awesome. We also want to remind you that JP’s books are in the amazon store and in the kindle store in amazon. He is a communications expert. thebusinessofconfidence.com is that website. His wedding website is JPRweddings.com. Mine is reverendclint.com or clinthufft.com for all the things that I do. Thank you again to the incredible musicians that play our theme music the DacapoPlayers.com. Remember if you want to make your life simple then find the wedding ceremony podcast in the apple store or in stitcher and subscribe and then that way every time we post a new episode it'll automatically come into your world. That's it for this episode of the wedding ceremony podcast. This is Clint and on behalf of JP and Carly, we will see you next time.