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A Photographer’s Path to Becoming a Wedding Officiant & Advocate

Published Tuesday, Aug. 30th, 2022


Officiant Lori, courtesy of the officiant

“People come into your life for a reason...” 

 

 

Lori Prashker-Thomas traveled almost 2,000 miles to officiate her first wedding ceremony. That might seem like a long way to go to help two people say “yes” to love, but if you’ve met her, it won’t surprise you. 

 

Lori’s always been a travel-loving, free-spirited, take-chances kind of person, so it makes perfect sense that her leap into officiating would involve a couple of plane tickets and a trek across the country.

 

Related: A Wedding Officiant's Guide to Performing Destination and Cruise Ship Weddings

 

When two close friends living in Salt Lake City called her up in 2011 to ask her to perform their same-sex Jewish wedding, she was working as an events photographer in Pennsylvania, and spending a lot of time behind the camera at weddings. 

 

She’d seen a few great ceremonies, a few terrible ones, and plenty that landed somewhere in that murky, unremarkable space in between. She loved photographing weddings, but she wanted to be more involved in the process of creating ceremonies – not just documenting them. 

 

She leapt at the chance to put her interest into action. But why had they asked her, she wondered? Why not find someone local? 

 

Lori soon learned from her friends that it was extremely difficult to find a qualified officiant in conservative Salt Lake City if you didn’t belong to a Latter-day Saints temple. And for an LGBTQ+ couple looking for someone familiar with Jewish wedding traditions? That was downright impossible, it seemed.

 

That’s when they’d thought of Lori – someone creative who shared their Jewish faith, who had lots of behind-the-scenes wedding experience, and who would celebrate their love in an open minded, authentic way. They were thrilled when she said yes.

 

Related: How to Ask Someone to Officiate Your Wedding - Our Favorite Way to Say 'Will You Marry Us?'

 

So, a short time later, Lori was ordained online and on a flight to Utah, headed toward a brand new career.

 

That first ceremony was a wild success: a festive, unforgettable Jewish wedding celebration that left the couple and their guests delighted. 

 

Lori was hooked on officiating. She returned home eager to merge her two creative passions – photography and ceremony writing. 

 

But back in Pennsylvania, she learned that her ordination, which she’d received from Universal Life Church (ULC) to marry her friends, might not be accepted in her home state. Although it had done the trick in Utah, she wasn’t confident in her legal standing as a minister in Pennsylvania. Lori began searching for other ordination options online, and found American Marriage Ministries (AMM). 

 

AMM was exactly the sort of organization she’d been looking for. It offered her an ordination that aligned with her values, and that would allow her to marry anybody, in any state. 

 

Lori was ordained with AMM in 2013 and immediately ran with it, taking on the title of unofficial 'Rabbi' and rebranding herself as wedding 'one-stop-shop,' providing couples with an experienced wedding photographer and marriage officiant in one. 

 

Related: Getting Ordained and Performing Marriage in Different States: How does it work?

 

 

 

Wedding Officiant Lori Prashker-Thomas performs an outdoor marriage ceremony

AMM Minister and unofficial 'Rabbi' Lori in action, photo by Jessica Zampetti

 

 

Since then, Lori has stayed true to the travel-loving, free-spirited, take-chances outlook that first led her to officiating: 

 

As marriage equality gained increasing support in Pennsylvania in 2013, she married one of the first same-sex couples through the door to get their marriage license.

 

She began working with various translators to provide ceremonies for couples in multiple languages; designing interfaith ceremonies to honor couples blending two religious traditions; and offering a wide variety of wedding packages for couples with any budget, including quick and creative ‘make it legal’ elopements. 

 

Related: How to Officiate a Sign & Go Marriage Ceremony

 

When the COVID-19 pandemic threw the wedding world on its head in the Spring of 2020, Lori found herself busier than ever as couples rushed to wed. She opened a new office location to help couples marry safely, and added additional members to her team to meet the needs of diverse couples. 

 

She’s continued to incorporate a love of travel in her wedding business, and as she often says when approached about destination weddings – “have passport, will travel!” Recently, she expanded her service area to include not just Pennsylvania and Salt Lake City (where she still serves couples looking for Jewish and LGBTQ+ inclusive weddings), but the entire New England area.

 

And this month, Lori partnered with another officiant in Pennsylvania to offer free wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ+ couples, many of whom are understandably worried about the future of marriage access following the SCOTUS ruling in Roe v Wade (thought by many to put the Obergefell v Hodges ruling at risk). She’s reached out to officiants in other states as well, and is exploring ways to continue serving couples across the country. 

 

Related: What overturning Roe v Wade could mean for Marriage Equality

 

Hundreds of weddings, and thousands of miles and love stories later, it’s not so surprising that Lori leapt at the chance to marry two long-distance friends all those years ago. 

 

“People come into your life for a reason,” Lori says, “and you make opportunities work for a reason.” 

 

The lesson to be found in Lori’s path from behind the camera to creating wedding ceremonies is clear… When life hands you a couple of plane tickets and the chance to fulfill a calling – you take it!

 

You never know where you’ll end up next.

 

...

 

Learn more about Lori's free wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ+ couples:

 

 

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Browse free wedding ceremony scripts written by Lori. 

 

You'll find several of Lori's original wedding scripts in the AMM Ceremony Script Library, including a Jewish & Christian Interfaith Wedding Script with Breaking the Glass Ritual.

 

Browse all AMM Ceremony Scripts here.   

 

 

Close up photo of two wedding rings  and wedding flowers

From the script: Jewish & Christian Interfaith Wedding Script with Breaking the Glass Ritual

 

 


 

 

Lori Prashker-Thomas is a professional photographer & Co-Owner of ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC with her husband, Michael, and the Owner and Head Officiant at Ceremonies by Lori. She is also a Certificated Wedding Officiant through the Wedding Merchant Business. 

 

Ceremonies by Lori is based in Pennsylvania and also serves New England, the Salt Lake City area, and other destinations. As a romantic, Lori loves to share that passion with her couples and believes that every ceremony should be as unique as the couple it celebrates.

 

Read more on Lori's AMM Guest Contributor profile. 

 

 

Wedding Officiant & Rabbi, Lori Prashker-Thomas headshot photo, shows Lori with short pink hair and a black leather jacket posing in a chair and smiling toward the camera

Lori Prashker-Thomas, courtesty of the officiant

 


 

Get ordained!

 

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Pennsylvania

 

Friends and family members can perform wedding ceremonies in Pennsylvania if they’ve been ordained. Get ordained online with AMM to get started.

 

 

 


 

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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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