Mischa Skolnik always wanted to be a wedding planner.
But, the 2006 Staples High School graduate figured, she should get married first.
That happened last July.
As she went through the planning process — the venue, the party, the hoopla — Mischa realized something was missing: emotional and spiritual guidance.
While planning the ceremony, she and her fiancé had deep questions. “The coming together of two families brings a lot of tension,” Mischa notes. “Who expects what? Who pays for what?”
She and her partner addressed those issues themselves, with little guidance. That’s not unusual, she realized.
Mischa’s involvement in Jewish culture began at Temple Israel, continued as a board member for a national youth organization, was strengthened at the Wheaton College Hillel, then became part of her professional life as she melded religion with environmentalism, cooking and relationship coaching.
She is also an ordained Hebrew priestess, through the Kohenet Institute.
“I draw a lot from the Jewish mystical tradition and feminist perspective they teach,” she says.
But, Mischa adds, “I am also just a person, on my own bizarre journey of self- reflection, self-acceptance and integration.
“I am an out-of-the-box thinker. I’m traditional in some ways, and completely far out in others. Very little surprises me, and I pride myself in my ability to understand a variety of life experiences and personal choices. I’m non-judgmental, experimental, and totally curious about people.”
Pivoting to wedding planning last year, she saw an opportunity to help prepare people of any religion (or none) for an important rite of passage.
“When a couple is emotionally, mentally and spiritually prepared, their actual wedding day — and the years to follow — can be truly incredible and impactful,” she says.
Once a month (or more frequently), clients of Mischa’s Imagine. Create. Love discuss difficult topics with her. They think about what their wedding and relationship really mean, and prepare action steps to address challenges.
She explains, “I can be a sounding board for any creative or tactical decisions they make, and help shape their plans to reflect their unique partnership.” This takes a variety of forms: discussions, rituals, “homework assignments,” creative activities and more.
Mischa knows that many wedding planners and officiants (she is one, too) have not approached the ceremony as she does: with an eye toward personal growth, and a “unique, authentic experience.”
In addition to working through tough questions surrounding weddings, she helps them design “bespoke” ceremonies. Ideas often spring from the discussions they’ve had.
Mischa’s own wedding led to another realization: The moment it’s over, all the attention that planners and officiants have lavished on the couple suddenly ends.
“It’s so important to have extra support after the wedding too,” she says. So she offers 1- to 3-part sessions, “for a cushy landing pad.”
Mischa is “not really part of the mainstream wedding industry,” she says. “People don’t think they need emotional support.
But they have lots to deal with besides the the menu, seating and band. She’s there for the big questions they haven’t thought of — or ones they tried to avoid.
She calls herself “a wedding midwife, helping bring you through the wedding portal and integrate your experience afterward.
“I understand marriage is not for everyone,” Mischa says. “But for those who decide to make a big commitment to another person, this is a big life passage.
We should acknowledge it as a great opportunity for enrichment and growth.”
(To learn more about Mischa Skolnik’s work, click here.)
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