The Officiant Meeting: What To Expect.

These days there seem to be a lot of Internet lists and guides offering advice to couples on how to handle the officiant interview and what to expect from the interview. After reading these lists I’ve come to the conclusion that many of them are not written by actual officiants so I thought it might be a good idea to offer advice from the source.

The goal of the initial meeting should be a meet and greet between both parties of the wedding couple and the officiant. The three of you may have corresponded via email and spoken over the phone but nothing beats face-to-face communication.

Speaking for myself, the initial meeting is always complimentary and should take about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually have the couple to meet with me at a Starbucks or Panera Bakery that is within 10-15 miles of my home but easy to get to and with plenty of parking.  If weather permits we can even meet at a public park.

Prior to our meeting I will provide you with a ceremony design questionnaire and a couple’s history questionnaire to complete and bring with you. During the meeting we will discuss the answers to your questions and your vision for your wedding so that together we can co-create a ceremony that reflects who you are as a couple. I will show you samples of weddings that I have done to give you a glimpse of my writing style and you can tell me what, if any, poems, songs or readings you’d like incorporated into the ceremony.

You will be able to discuss with me the level of spirituality and religion that you want involved in your ceremony. I am personally more spiritual than religious and most of the couples that seek me out share my spiritual approach although this is not a necessity, I have created ceremonies for couples who want no mention of God, those that want Biblical reference but no particular form of religion and those who want to acknowledge their Higher Power without It being the focus of the ceremony

We will also discuss the particulars of your ceremony such as venue, theme and participation by family and friends. Do you need help with the processional and recessional? I can do that. Do you need me at the rehearsal? We will work on that. If we determine that we are a good fit for each other, you may place a reservation fee to secure my services for your date and I will get to work on your ceremony.

Remember that your ceremony will not be completed within the time limits of the initial meeting, it will be a collaborative effort conducted through consultations via email and telephone and we will work on it until we get it right,

Candles in The Wind: A Wedding Day Fail

Candle flame

We all love candles. Their soft flickering flames have the power to evoke feelings of love, romance, promise, hope and spirituality. Perhaps that is why unity candles have become such a beloved part of the modern wedding ceremony.

However there is one particular type of wedding where unity candles can quickly spark feelings of frustration and even embarrassment as opposed to the more positive feelings mentioned above; that is the beach wedding.

Beach weddings are very popular in Los Angeles however Southern California beaches tend to be a bit windy and in this case the elements of fire and air are not on friendly terms. It is very hard to predict how windy it will be on the beaches of Los Angeles at any given time and even harder to get or keep your candles lit in even the slightest breeze.

If you want to incorporate a wind resistant unity ceremony into your beach wedding there are many options and alternatives and a creative wedding officiant will even be able to tweak existing traditions to fit your particular ceremony, as I did with the bread and salt ceremony for the couple that I married on New Year’s Day, 2011.

Some other beach friendly unity ceremonies include: jumping the broom, breaking the glass, handfasting or tying the knot, wine tasting and of course the unity sand ceremony.

Writing Your Own Vows?

Many modern couples relish the chance to write their own vows, some panic at the thought and others throw in the towel after experiencing the frustration of writer’s block and decide to ask me to do it after all.

Writing personalized vows need not be a difficult task and it is one of the most intimate gifts that a couple can give each other on their wedding day. It is also a very heartfelt way to express the feelings that you share to your friends and family who have come to witness your wedding ceremony.

It may help to remember that you are not writing the entire ceremony, you are only writing a small and personal part based on the circumstances and attributes that made you fall in love and choose to share your life with this wonderful person.

I wholeheartedly encourage my couples to write their own vows, however if the prospect seems to daunting, either initially or after a few tries, I am more than happy to offer my assistance with editing and making suggestions.

Friends don’t let friends officiate

Ok so maybe my title is a bit of an overstatement, after all my friend officiated my wedding but she was also a trained celebrant and respected leader in our faith community. Specifically, I’m talking about the DIY trend of having your friend or relative ordained or deputized for the sole purpose of performing your wedding. It could work. It worked when Joey officiated Phoebe’s wedding on the TV show Friends. On the other hand it might be a mistake. Do you want to take that chance with your wedding?

The wedding ceremony is an intense one filled with high expectations and equally high emotions. All eyes will be on the couple AND the officiant. Your friend or relative might be the most confident person you know but will they be able to withstand the attention? Even strong public speakers have been known to choke up when they realize that they are doing more than just reading a script; they are in fact solemnizing a spiritual, legal and life-changing union.

I may be biased but I highly suggest that, if your wedding ceremony is important to you, you seek the services of an officiant who is not only ordained but also trained and experienced in the arts of ritual and ceremony.