Years ago, Maripat Quinn wanted to marry someone of a religion different than her own.
"We had difficult finding someone to conduct the service," she said. "I ended up getting married at the United Nations. Which was cool, but it was cumbersome."
Fast forward to today, when Quinn is an ordained minister specializing in non-traditional services – she calls herself "Everyone's Minister." She's kept her own experiences in mind as she performs weddings between couples of different religions or nationalities as well as same-sex couples who can now enjoy a wedding day in New York State thanks to the Marriage Equality Act. Quinn, who has a Master's degree in comparative religions, said she enjoys researching various religious and cultural traditions to create a service unique to each couple she works with.
"Even in my own extended family, we have marriages of all different religions, cultures, and I want to be able to support that," she said. "I want to be able to equally combine [a couple’s] backgrounds and weave together a ceremony that would celebrate what they had in common."
Quinn previously worked as an assistant to former Port Jefferson Village mayor Jeanne Garant, who raved about Quinn's character.
"She had a good way about her with people. ... She had energy and that was what was very important," Garant said. "There’s a very nice reward in uniting people who seem to be in love. I think she’s cut out for that."
Now, Quinn, an 18-year resident of Setauket who said she has lived in 10 other countries, is launching a charitable effort through the Setauket-based Carol M. Baldwin Foundation to help raise money for breast cancer research. A former volunteer with that organization, Quinn is collecting donations of wedding dresses to rent out or auction off to raise money.
"We actually got to meet with the people doing the rsearch and you can see how very effective they are," she said. "Now they are able to go two steps, three steps forward into their research that maybe they couldn’t have done before. I think this is a painless way, a feel good way, to try and find a cure for breast cancer."
She even has a system in which breast cancer survivors can rent a dress for free. Donations can be made in someone's memory as well
Quinn said she encourages the brides she works with to consider donating their dresses after their weddings. She is searching for dresses of all styles and sizes, whether they are "two years old or 20 years old," she said.
"I happen to love working with the couples, see them get married," she said, "and then perhaps give somebody else a chance at the same dream."
Want to contribute?Email Maripat for more information about donating a wedding dress to the cause.