Sunday, March 7, 2010

5 Things Most Officiants Don't Want You To Know

From my first posting, most of you know I've been on this journey rather sporadically for the past eight years, but have only seriously considered officiating as a profession for the past few months.  I've been researching this career at length for the past month and have perused innumerable websites and blogs of other ministers, officiants, celebrants, or whatever title these people wish to use to set themselves apart from the herd (not ministers, etc. affiliated with a particular religion or institution).  I've noticed some common threads woven throughout each of these sites.  You won't find this info on any personal website or blog, but I think it's important for you to know about us.

  1. Most officiants were ordained over the internet.  There are a few out there that attended a few trainings, but most are like me and were originally ordained to perform the ceremony of a close friend or relative.  There are some that tout the ability to provide marriage licenses (basically a permission slip from the state that says you are allowed to get married), but that is because they attended a 6-hour training and paid a fee to be a notary.  Any notary public can provide a license if they have the paperwork, but the filing process at your local courthouse is not extensive and not very inconvenient (and I'm from Los Angeles County!).
  2. We get our ideas for ceremonies in the same place you do - the internet.  Sure, we read books and take classes, but we get most of our ideas from our past ceremonies and from other officiants that post their ceremonies or sample ceremonies on the internet.  We live in a age where it is acceptable to incorporate cultural rites into the marriage ceremony that may or may not be familiar to us.  The quickest and easiest way to learn about those rites is to jump on the internet and Google it (or Bing it, or Yahoo... you get the picture).  We say we want your ceremony to be just yours, your way - but we will borrow ideas from previous ceremonies or colleagues to make your ceremony as seamless as possible - especially if you don't have a preference or idea about what you want for your ceremony.  We borrow from others and ourselves because these ceremonies worked out well and we want yours to be successful, too.
  3. We're wedding vendors but hate to admit it. There's a reason you won't find many officiants at bridal fairs - we're not a very competitive bunch.  If we were we'd be planners.  We also realize our role in your special day is very minor compared to the rest of the planning, but we try to convey the significance of the ceremony nonetheless.
  4. We hope we're the only officiant you've interviewed so far, and will be the only you interview at all.  Please see above about our lack of the competitive gene.  And unless you found us on the internet or through the nearly extinct phone book, you were most likely referred to us by a friend or relative.  We hope that friend or relative already sold us to you and you are meeting us to discuss the ceremony and get working (i.e. we're hired).
  5. We're nervous before the ceremony, too!  No matter how many ceremonies we do, we get nervous before each one.  The day we stop getting nervous is the day we need to find another profession because that is the day we stop caring.  We care about your ceremony just as much as you do.  We want everything to run smoothly and it is usually up to us to deal with any glitches with grace. I will usually say a small silent prayer before entering the ceremony and mentally go through everything daily until the rehearsal.  We can't prepare for everything, but officiants know the weight of the emotional tone for the ceremony rests largely on our shoulders and we want it to be perfect, just like you do.
Well, there you have it.  The five things most wedding officiants don't want you to know.  Remember, we are human, want to be liked, and want to be a part of your special day.  Stay tuned for my take on what every officiant wants you to know in my next submission.  Cheers!

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