Planning a wedding is a lot of details, some of which are mundane (cocktail napkins), some of which are profound (who you will marry!) So when it’s time to choose who will perform your wedding, I’ll start by asking a question: When have you ever walked into a large event, a life-altering moment, or any significant event in your life without research, preparation, and pros in charge? Odds are your answer is—next to never.
As costs mount, and the pile of contracts grows, the wedding officiant may seem, in this grand scheme, a place where you could trim your budget. You could ask a friend to do it. They are a great speaker. They know you so well. They’d do it for free.
But here are five really good reasons to reconsider:
5. Experience. All weddings have a structure, a rhythm, and a particular energy. As professionals, we’ve lived in that space for years, many times, over and over again. We understand the flow, and not only help you work within it, but know just where to bend it and mold it to make it your own. We are familiar and comfortable with the energy around wedding ceremonies: joy, stress, anxiety, surprise. We are trained to hold that space, and to create a place for you that is non-anxious so you can actually enjoy getting married to each other.
4. Credibility. It matters. It really does. Just ask my couple who discovered their best man had forgotten to file their license. (That was the last time I left a license with the best man! I file paperwork myself now. Oh – and yes, we quickly remedied the situation.) The requirements for who may marry whom, what paperwork must be filed, how it is filed, and when it is filed vary a great deal. And not only do they vary, they vary from year to year, state to state, county to county. And the statutes themselves can be vague and confusing. Professional clergy, as well as judges (and certain other public servants) are safe choices who insure that your marriage is valid, and is and will always be legally recognized.
3. Customization. One reason people want their friends to marry them is because they desire a more personal touch. Now that makes a lot of sense. Each couple’s story is at once universal and unique. It’s a precious story that begs to be told here at its opening chapters. As a seasoned wedding officiant, part of my job is to plumb my couples for tidbits and tales that both bind them to the universal value of love, but also their unique traits. I bring years of ideas, as well as the keen ability to wordsmith – to articulate thoughts and feelings and thus, customize the wedding while simultaneously (I hope) giving each couple some tools upon which to build their new marriage through that customization of words and actions.
2. We work for you. This may seem obvious, but it is worth saying. We work for you. We aren’t your guest. You don’t need to feed us, or entertain us. We aren’t there to party, or catch up with other family, friends, or guests. That client relationship gives both the couple and the officiant (me!) the freedom to be fully present in the wedding itself. We’ve been hired to create a wedding, and then hold that space for you. Our focus is you, your wedding, and your ceremony!
1. Marriage is more than a moment. Yes, of course we are there to make your marriage legal, and do it beautifully. But you are the ones who actually have to be married. It’s a verb. Marriage reaches far beyond that date and time listed on your beautifully designed wedding invitation. Our job, at the very least, is to create a ceremony that is a true rite – something that gives our couples a strong, articulated foundation, rich soil, hooks on which to build their marriage. We hope that each ceremony we craft is a sort of working document for our couples. It will be something to recall and revisit as marriage unfolds.
For this insight, we really have millennials to thank. It’s their love of connection and community that helped us articulate and realize this part of our role. More and more we’ve found ourselves becoming part of our client’s lives. It doesn’t always happen, nor is it always sought out. It’s certainly not expected. But, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in joy or in sorrow, we are a known, professional source, a safe place, a trusted entity.
Sarah has been crafting custom weddings for couples of all kinds since 1999. Sarah is a Ravenclaw, and loves historical fiction, hot tea, and cycling of all sorts. She is an ordained minister who believes in coloring outside the lines. Sarah has been married to her best friend, Joe, since 1994. Together, their greatest treasures are their two children.