I am an ordained and registered New York City ceremony officiant. I grew up in New England and studied comparative religion in college. After a career in theater and dance on the west coast, I moved back east in 1998 and resumed my study of religion. I entered the Masters of Divinity program at Union Theological Seminary and served as an interfaith chaplain intern for Jacob Perlow Hospice. My internship as a chaplain revealed to me a calling and passion: helping individuals and families move through major life transitions.
After completing my masters program, I began working as a counselor with a mental health crisis hotline. Since then, I have done counseling work for September 11th recovery programs, for survivors of hurricane Katrina, for homeless persons with mental illness in a transitional housing program, and with the inpatient psychiatry program of Bellevue Hospital Center. Over time, this work has strengthened my commitment to social justice and deepened my faith in the healing power of our relationships; it is my spiritual practice.
In 2003, a couple asked if I would perform their wedding. Using my counseling skills and religious studies, we created a ceremony that reflected their values as a couple while respecting the faith traditions of their families. I fell in love with this work, and this love grows with each couple I meet and with every ceremony I officiate. I now perform ceremonies around the New York City area and across the country and have an expanding psychotherapy practice with a private office in midtown, Manhattan. I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I am happily married and with two wonderful children.
Whether you are planning a civil or interfaith ceremony, every wedding brings together the traditions and perspectives of two families (at least). My goal is to listen and help you design a wedding ceremony that reflects your personal values and can include the faith or family traditions of your choosing. I bring to this work the knowledge of several religions and philosophies and the skills of a counselor. Every couple is unique, so each ceremony is different, and I learn something every time from each couple.
Weddings and Commitment Ceremonies
We begin with a conversation. I meet with you both so I can hear your hopes and plans and answer any questions you have about my services. If you decide that I am the one to perform your ceremony, then I ask each of you to answer some questions about your relationship and send it to me in writing. We then meet in person to create an outline for your ceremony and discuss any rituals or readings you would like to include. We discuss your vows, which are the heart of a ceremony and the basis of your commitment. On the day of the wedding, I will arrive an hour early and we will run a brief rehearsal (if desired). I will then be available to you and your family until the ceremony is over and all of the documents are signed.
For those couples who are interested, I offer five pre-marital counseling sessions. These sessions allow couples a way to get relief from stress and bring a deeper awareness to the process of getting married. The sessions are structured around certain topics (money, religion, children, etc.) but are designed with the flexibility to address the unique and specific needs of any couple. They are held in my private office in midtown, Manhattan. If you would like to know more about my work as a psychotherapist, please go to www.jessehendrich.net.
More and more often, couples are asking friends or relatives to perform their ceremony. If you have been asked to perform a ceremony and have questions about how to create and legally perform one, I would love to meet with you. I will offer ideas and advice to help prepare you to officiate a ceremony. I also offer ongoing officiant support services, if you would like assistance up to the day of ceremony.
From birth to death, life has many cycles. Each cycle offers challenges and opportunities for growth. As we pass through each cycle, it is important to mark the moment of transition. I can help you design a ceremony that marks this moment as the passage from one cycle to the next. This ritual could be for one person or for a group and would reflect your thoughts, feelings and values. If you are interested in talking about life transitions and rites of passage, l would love to meet and explore ritual possibilities.
“Jesse helped us begin the process of ‘getting married’ months before our actual ceremony. Once a month, we'd meet to talk about our hopes and plans for the wedding. He’d urge us to focus on the traditions of our faiths and families and make difficult decisions about what is truly important to us. These get-togethers inspired us to think deeply about what it means to be married.
“We are forever grateful for the insight and care that he brought to our wedding. With his support we created a ceremony that was the perfect mingling of ourselves and our families. But more than this, Jesse helped us to design a service that was a declaration of the life we hope to live together. Two years after our wedding, people still talk about the service. It's amazing!”