Ink with Intent celebrates LGBTQ+ weddings with inclusive custom wedding certificates and ketubahs
LGBTQ+ inclusive Burlington, Vermont–based artist Adriana Saipe of Ink with Intent wants you to know that ketubahs and wedding certificates can be both modern and classic.
Of all the wedding advice we’ve given over the years on Equally Wed, I’m most aligned with the sentiment that your commitment to one another is the detail that matters most. And it’s important to really savor that commitment—the big “I do.” Saipe, a talented and kind artist, is ready to help you commemorate your marriage. Saipe’s company, Ink with Intent, a preferred Equally Wed vendor, is all about celebrating you and your beloved’s specialness that no other couple has, what makes you you, with her custom ketubahs and wedding certificates.
If you’re Jewish, you already likely know what a ketubah is—a marriage contract, of sorts. And if you’re not Jewish, you’ll be relieved to know that you too can have a wedding certificate beyond what your government provides to you as a legally recognized legit couple (shout out to the Supreme Court Justices who made sure we can now get legally married in all 50 states of America!). And if you happen to live in a still-oppressed region of the world where marriage equality is not a reality, Ink with Intent believes a wedding is a wedding, no matter who’s getting married. So not only can you order Ink with Intent’s custom wedding certificates and ketubahs from anywhere in the world, you can rest assured Saipe and everyone on the right side of history fully recognizes your marriage, no matter what the government and society say. Which is pretty much the premise of a wedding certificate anyway, the idea that the people who show up for you in your life—and at your wedding—are making a commitment to honor your marriage with their support and love.
Saipe began designing for her shop Ink with Intent in 2013 when she realized that the world needed more ketubahs and wedding certificates that were simple, contemporary, colorful and inclusive of all types of couples. She was planning her own Quaker-Jewish interfaith wedding when she began her my hunt for the perfect ketubah. “I absolutely loved the idea of participating in this ancient Jewish tradition and of having a beautiful rendering of our wedding promises hanging on our wall,” she says. “But as I searched, no ketubah I found seemed to fit the quirky, interfaith celebration we were planning together.
Many designs featured symbols and places that didn’t speak to our interfaith family. Other designs were beautiful but lacked the vibrant color and simplicity that I crave as an artist. And no designs seemed to speak to our shared experiences as a couple. Since I’m a professional artist, in the end we decided to simply create our own. And the design we landed on perfectly captured the time and place where we first fell in love. It’s hanging on my wall as we speak. And every so often, I’ll stop to reread it and relive all the emotions of the day we signed it together.”
Since then, Saipe’s company Ink with Intent has grown into a team of four women devoted exclusively to wedding certificates and ketubahs. We caught up with Saipe to get her take on the meaning behind wedding certificates and ketubahs, and how she makes each one a lasting personalized celebration of each couple’s marriage.
EQUALLY WED: What is the meaning of a ketubah?
INK WITH INTENT: The ketubah signing ceremony is a crucial part of a Jewish or Jewish-Interfaith wedding in which the couple, their officiant/Rabbi, and two or more witnesses sign a document before the public wedding ceremony. Many actually consider the original 2000-year-old ketubah text to be one of the earliest feminist documents, since it was one of the first times in history that the bride was given certain assurances in the context of her marriage and not simply ‘exchanged’ as property. It really has a fascinating history! These days, most couples use a more poetic / modern interpretation of the original ketubah text, one that celebrates their union and lays out their promises to each other in marriage.
Who can get a ketubah?
A ketubah is typically appropriate for couples where at least one partner comes from a Jewish or Jewish-interfaith background. And there are as many ketubah texts out there as there are ways to be Jewish! Whether you come from a Conservative, Reform, Secular or even generally unobservant background, if you or your partner identifies with their Jewish heritage, incorporating a ketubah into your wedding can be a deeply meaningful addition to your wedding.
How does a ketubah differ from a wedding certificate?
A wedding certificate is a beautiful tradition that has gained popularity among couples from all religious and secular backgrounds. In this custom, each person who attends your wedding is asked to sign a wedding certificate as a formal witness. It’s a lovely and meaningful way to include each guest at your wedding in the ceremony. And at the end of your special day, you’ll have a unique piece of artwork covered in the signatures of your loved ones to hang in your home for the rest of your lives. Many couples now use the wedding certificate as a more meaningful alternative to the guest book. The modern wedding certificate originates as a Quaker tradition, but they are now used widely among couples from all backgrounds!
Tell us about the Quaker tradition of wedding certificates and about LGBTQ+ ceremonies within the Quaker tradition.
When you have a traditional Quaker wedding, you must get married “under the care of” a Quaker Meeting house. Part of that involved getting a document that formalized your union and that was signed by every person who “witnessed” you getting married. When a witness signed your certificate, they were affirming that they would honor and support your marriage for all the years to come. And traditional Quakers took this promise very seriously!
Quakers have a grassroots approach to making important decisions (such as whether to perform LGBTQ+ weddings under the care of meeting.) This means that each meeting house had to decide for itself what they would do as opposed to there being any sort of top-down edict. As such, Quaker meetings across the country were beginning to perform religious LGBTQ+ weddings as early as the ’80s. It was quite radical at the time, and the majority of Quakers I know are quite proud of their religion’s welcoming history. My mom remembers her meeting marrying their first LGBTQ+ couple in 1982, and this historical letter from the editor from The New York Times confirms it was happening in Wisconsin too!
You had an interfaith marriage ceremony. Any advice on how couples can honor both faiths in their certificate as well as wedding planning advice in general?
My husband comes from a Jewish family and I come from a Quaker family, and we found it shockingly easy to combine the two traditions in our wedding! It turns out, they’re extremely compatible on the philosophical level. We decided to have a modified Jewish ceremony (complete with a ketubah, a chuppah, circling each other, reciting the seven blessings, and smashing the glass) with the addition of some Quakerly silence and reflection. I’ve actually worked with a number of Jewish-Quaker couples since then, and have created some cool hybrid ketubah / wedding certificates that feature the traditional ketubah text above with space for each guest at the wedding to sign below.
What’s your view on marriage equality? Have you worked with LGBTQ+ couples before?
I’ve always believed in equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s never even been a question for me.
When I started my company in 2014, I was determined to make the experience of working with my company an affirming and positive experience artist for every single couple who reached out. Over the years, that’s taken the form of making all our texts available for couples no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation; offering multiple partnership terms so that people can choose the language that best represents their relationship; designing ketubahs and wedding certificates whose artwork attempts to speak directly to the LGBTQ+ community; and, most recently, working with some incredible queer translators in Israel to tackle the issue of gender-neutral writing in Hebrew (an innately gendered language). I’m also always listening to our LGBTQ+ clients for how we can make the experience of working with Ink with Intent even better. There’s always room to grow!
Do you paint your ketubahs and marriage certificates by hand? What are the materials you use?
I work by creating a body of hand-painted textures and then digitally collaging them into finished designs. My background is in fine art painting, but I found myself being drawn to a more playful, contemporary style when creating ketubahs and wedding certificates. The nice part about working with digital art is that I’m able to show our clients a proof of their text and design, exactly as it will appear, before it’s finalized. The final products that are shipped to our clients are fine art giclée prints. These aren’t your typical ink-jet prints; they’re super vibrant and last for decades!
Do you ship internationally?
We ship worldwide! Most of our clients are in the U.S., but we also send a large number of ketubahs and certificates to Canada, Europe, Israel and Australia.
How do you guide your couples in choosing a certificate/ketubah?
I think picking a ketubah or wedding certificate really comes down to a gut connection with the artwork. In my experience, when a couple finds the right design for them, they just know! The nice thing about my work is that it can be adjusted and tweaked in a lot of different ways, so I highly encourage people to reach out if something is almost exactly right for them, but needs one or two changes. Some couples also come to me because they’re looking for something specific (say, a beach scene) and they’re not finding it in my regular collection. Luckily I have a huge body of illustrations that aren’t part of my normal collection, so I can usually show a client a few options that they hadn’t seen before. I always encourage people to reach out if they’re not finding what they’re looking for!
Along those lines, I also work with a lot of clients on a totally custom illustration. That process is a little different than just choosing a design from my shop. We’ll first meet over phone or skype so that we can talk through their vision. Then I’ll put together a sketch and a quote for the project, and it’s totally up to the client if they’d like to move forward. No hard sells over here. Custom work is a very iterative process with lots of opportunity for feedback from the client before a piece is finalized.
You’ve got a baby on the way. Congrats! When should our couples get their orders in? And typically how far in advance do you recommend couples order a ketubah or a marriage certificate?
Yes! Our second daughter will be arriving some time in late July. Luckily, I have a team of incredible women who will steer the ship and process all our regular orders while I’m out on maternity leave. I’m sure I’ll also still be lurking around in the background because, what can I say, I love my job. But if you’re potentially interested in a custom illustration, I recommend that you reach out as soon as possible!
What are your most popular designs?
There’s actually a pretty good distribution of sales across the different designs, which probably reflects how each couple is unique in their tastes! But I have noticed a recent trend toward the botanical illustrations (which I loooove) as well as the super clean / contemporary Etched in Stone Collection. For ketubahs, the Tree of Life designs are always a favorite because of their beautiful symbolism.
That star map ketubah is incredible. Will you tell us about it?
The idea for this ketubah actually came from some awesome clients a couple of years ago. They wanted a ketubah that captured the exact night sky on their wedding date. After doing some digging, I found a bunch of incredibly detailed astronomy websites that will show you the night sky on a specific date in a specific place. Now I have the “Star Map” ketubah and wedding certificate as one of our standard options. You can to select the horizon line (there are cities, oceans, forests, and more to choose from) and I’ll create a custom night sky that captures a specific date and place. Most people use their wedding date, but I’ve also done the date people met, the date they got engaged and other important dates. It’s a really striking design, and definitely one of my favorites to do!
Anything else you want to add?
Wedding certificates are truly for everyone! While they originated as a Quaker tradition, the ones I make are quite different from the official certificates you need if you’re being married “under the care of a meeting house” (though I do make those too for my Quaker clients). I’ve had clients in the past be worried about cultural appropriation, but, as a Quaker myself, I can say that these truly are available for everyone.
This post is sponsored by Ink with Intent, a preferred Equally Wed vendor. Equally Wed only works with equality-minded companies. If you’re interested in sponsoring a post, get in touch at advertising (at) equallywed (dot) com.
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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