Friday, March 19, 2010

5 Things Every Officiant Wants You to Know

As promised, I'm finally getting to post what every officiant wants you to know as a follow-up to my previous "What Most Officiants Don't Want You To Know." 

  1. First, do your homework.  The most challenging ceremonies for me to create were ones that the bride and/or groom had no vision for their ceremony.  Months are spent planning the color scheme, food, decor, favors, music, flowers, guests, but only a few minutes on the ceremony (the purpose for the event).  There are so many great websites out there and all you have to do is Google "Sample Wedding Vows" and you can get an idea of what kind of elements you like and don't like.  This also includes the music during the ceremony.  If you do not know what music to use, we can help you decide, but most officiants don't have musical experience and feel most comfortable when the music is pre-selected by the couple. Oh, and you don't have to write your own vows.  I know it's romantic and heart-felt, but unless you're a writer and a performer repeating small phrases from your officiant will be all you can handle during the emotional climax of your wedding ceremony, AND THAT'S OK.
  2. Have an idea of how long you want the ceremony to be.  Most states only require the "Do you...I do" and "By the power..." to be stated and that takes only a matter of seconds.  We want to earn our fee, and could easily complete the ceremony with minimal inclusions, but we want this ceremony to be special to you and your significant other, and vows and pronouncement just don't seem to be very personal.  Are there friends or family members you would like to include?  Do you have a favorite Bible verse, poem, song?  Will children (or pets) be involved?  Does your ceremony site have a time limit?  An experienced officiant can give you a rough estimate about how long the ceremony will last by what elements you would like to include.  Keep in mind some elements may be dependent on the location of the ceremony.  Some locations do not allow candles (some churches, museums, and protected wildlife areas) or flowers (some protected wildlife areas).
  3. If you don't have a planner or ceremony coordinator, experienced officiants can step in.  Most brides I have worked with were on very tight budgets and could not afford any coordinators and I was happy to help explain the order of the service and guide the bridal party through the rehearsals.  Planners and location coordinators prefer officiants to just "read what's on the page" and let them take care of the rest, but we are very capable of helping out (I've also been known to arrange flowers and last-minute cake decorating).  If you would like us to run the rehearsal, please let us know in advance.  Many of us have great resources and can even print out the order for the bridal party, if needed.
  4. We want to get to know you and your significant other.  I always ask to meet with both parties on our first consultation so I can get a feel for your relationship.  The best ceremonies usually include a story about the couple (how they met, got engaged, major challenges or triumphs), and we can't get that information from just one person.  Remember each story has at least two versions, and we officiants like to hear both.  Tell us about the theme of your wedding or what made you decide on your color scheme.  A good officiant can incorporate other elements and choices about your wedding in the ceremony, which makes it even more personal.
  5. Finally, this is your day, make it your way.  There are always going to be people that are disappointed with your choices in your wedding, but they are your choices to make.  Let go of trying to please everyone when planning your wedding and go with your gut.  No one likes to go to a wedding where the couple is so stressed-out it is clear they are not enjoying themselves.  Weddings are for celebration, and we officiants are honored to be able to help you celebrate your commitment to one another.
There you have it!  Tune in next time when I outline what you should ask your prospective officiant.  Cheers!

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