The Officiants at Church of Ancient Ways

We are a team of seasoned professionals, spot on when it comes to the details and organization, creative, well versed everything from Short and Sweet to Traditional, Fusion, Pop-Culture, Art, Literature or telling your personal Love Story… We’re in for all that and more if you want! Are you more a minimalist? The modern couple often see their day as more about being married than getting married. The same way they are attracted to clean lines and open spaces with an uncluttered beauty, they want a ceremony that is simple, short, yet elegant. The desire is to make promises that will still matter in years to come and move forward! Whatever you desire it is our mission to say “Absolutely!” instead of “Oh… I don’t know about that…” There are a myriad of themes, for a myriad of dreams that become real from that first kiss on… But only one of them is yours.

CoAW was given 501c3 status by the Federal Government in 1997 as an Interfaith Organization. There are fundamental principles that guide people to be good individuals, with a strong internal moral compass. It is our goal to embrace all the world’s Philosophies and Religions and even Scientific Principles that seek this goodness and celebrate our common ground as human beings.

Pastor Marie April Gismondi

As a prominent leader within the wedding industry, Pastor Marie April Gismondi has over twenty years of experience and has officiated several thousand ceremonies. April will take your vision of how you picture your ceremony and weave it into beautiful, heartfelt words that far exceed your expectations. Her ability to deliver simple ceremonies warmly and engagingly is unparallelled. April is highly skilled in the blending different Cultures and Religions for Fusion weddings. April is truly gifted with the ability to tell a spectacular love story. Her soothing voice, exceptional professionalism, creativity and flexibility make working with her a wonderful experience. Whether your ceremony is religious, multicultural, spiritual, secular, humorous, lighthearted or romantic… guests leave every ceremony commenting on how truly enjoyable it was.

Rev. Aviva Sala

Rev. Aviva Sala is an officiant who has been working exclusively for Church of Ancient Ways for several years now, trained personally by Pastor Marie April Gismondi. Whether using written samples from our web site or meeting/writing custom ceremonies, Aviva is creative and witty, but also extremely on-point and professional. Whether traditional or “off-beat” couples, she helps to create their vision. Ordained by the Church of Ancient Ways, her credentials are fully legal in all parts of New York.

Rev. Joe Iadanza
Michael Justin Studios
(Instagram: michaeljustinstudios). 

Rev. Joe Iadanza

Joe served on the Board of Directors at a seminary in Huntington called The Sanctuary of Peace and Harmony, where he trained and was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. He currently runs The Living Room Studio where he is a Yoga Master. Joe, was raised an Italian Catholic, an actual family member to the saint Padre Pio, with his primary focus being on individual spiritual growth, music, and meditation. As someone who is not entrenched in the wedding industry, he brings a fresh and joyful perspective, while still being onpoint and professional. I am truly fortunate that he has agreed to work with our couples. Joe has a relaxed and joyful spirit, that shows in his manner and speech that is both a gift and a blessing.

Brenda Santana

Brenda has a background in stage and performance, singing and acting, which makes her delivery, elocution, and presence all exceptional. Her demeanor is warm and comfortable, and it shows in all of her ceremonies that she really is happy for you and to be there with you. Although born and raised here in New York, her parents hail from Puerto Rico, and Brenda is fluent in Spanish, and a part time ESL teacher at Nassau Community College.

Minister Brenda Santana
Rev. Lorili Henry

Rev. Lorili Henry

Rev. Lorili Henry has a warm and comfortable demeanor that shows she really is happy for you and to be with you. Her delivery, elocution, and presence are all fabulous. Lorili was trained at an Interfaith Seminary, is a yoga instructor, and has a beautiful way of attending to life’s sacred moments whether in a religious context or a secular/non-religious one. . Lorili has been officiating for over twenty years and she is really very good at – not only her craft – but also being joyful in the moment with you. 

Rabbi Sara Shonfeld

Rabbi Sara Shonfeld is an Interfaith Officiant. Sara is 7th generation Israeli, so her Hebrew is perfect. She joined the Church of Ancient Ways when she saw how the needs of Culturally Jewish couples as well as those with a religious background but no temple affiliation were not being met. Sara can perform ceremonies that include any religion you want, as in Fusion Weddings, or none at all for your wedding. Sara is one of the most joyful human beings on the planet and it shows in all of her ceremonies. Sara is Church of Ancient Ways ordained, so she is fully legal in all parts of NY, with no grey area like the online officiants.

Rev. Deb Viola

Rev. Deb Viola has been performing wedding ceremonies almost as long as Pastor Marie April Gismondi and she is amazing! Her nature is warm and welcoming; her demeanor is calm and soothing, which reflects in how relaxed her couples are. Whether using written samples from our web site or writing a personalized ceremony, every couple benefits from Deb’s compassionate and talented style. Also ordained by the Church of Ancient Ways, Deb is fully legal in all parts of NY, with no grey area as with the Universal Life Church and other online officiants.

(While no premarital counseling is required, both Deb and Aviva are LCSW’s. This gives them wonderful listening and interpretive skills and any counseling that a requests is insurance reimbursable.)

Bill and Ann Corbett

When Judge William Corbett retired from the bench, and his wife, Ann Corbett stepped down as the first female Mayor of Floral Park, they went to the New York Seminary in NYC to ensure that they would still be legally able to perform marriages without the grey area associated with online ordinations. In addition to having many years of experience as Civil Officiants, they are both well-versed in working with every couple’s requests. They are genuinely nice people who have been happily married for 50 years, with three grown children and 4 grandchildren. They know just what a marriage requires to be successful.

Mark Getman

While Mark’s roots and congregation are in the Jewish community, his time in Military and current service in the National Guard as a Chaplain gave him the opportunity to serve in an Interfaith capacity. He is well versed in world religions and is happy to serve couples with a secular spirituality. He has a background in theatre, and currently has a recurring role as the Rabbi in the Marvelous Miss Maisel. So his performance skill are first rate.

Our Philosophy


Our Philosophy at Church of Ancient Ways has as its primary belief that people share more in common with one another, as human than what our different race, religion and culture may imply.

We believe that the underlying truths of world religions, both ancient and modern, are the same. There is no conflict between religion, science, nature, secular humanism, and the human journey. Our Philosophy is very compatible with the original Greek “Philo Sophia”, from which the word we know comes. It means “Lover of Wisdom”. While knowledge can be gleaned from a book, wisdom is experiential. We see this as the difference between “religion” and “spirituality” and an example of how the two are neither mutually inclusive or exclusive.

The Dali Lama recently described the Global trend to move away from the politics of Organized Religion and towards Spirituality as being like going to dinner with a group of friends. Although you are all ordering something different from the menu, you can still celebrate that you are all sitting down to a common meal.
We practice an eclectic, hands on spirituality which embraces all faiths spiritual paths, and philosophies. We believe that divinity is present in all things, at all times. We believe that everything is still connected to and a part of the whole, valuable, and therefore should be respected as such. We respect all paths and the human beings who travel them. For us, our philosophy seems to be an embracing of the simple things that everyone can agree upon.

The problem with modern religion is not one of spirit. It lies in the political structures that come along claiming to be the “only way” and then they proceed to set up a toll booth to collect from those who wish to be on the “right” path. This we have difficulty accepting, after all Spirit is too big to be held within the confines of any one religion. We believe all words and writings of true faith and spirit mean different things to different people at different times in their lives but share a core message of love, kindness, respect, and ongoing progress towards transformation and the light and a closer relationship with God. We are all both student and teacher here. For us it is about sharing the joy to be found in learning and growing, not judging or condemning.

That was a lot of words, right?

When CoAW was founded in 1997 the short form was:
“Do the best you can all the time. If you find yourself doing less than your best, knock it off and start over.”

CoAW ministers are also available Nationally

In Atlanta GA
Rev. Ashley Carter and Rev Clyde Gilbert:

In Quad Cities area of Iowa, and St. Louis MO
Eric Friedman: