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,

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.

Renee & Wiliam: They Ate, Prayed and Loved

Renee and WiliamJanuary 01, 2011 was the first day of the new year and the new lives of Mr. and Mrs. Wiliam and Renee Jones-Carvalho who were married in a noon ceremony at Shanghai Red’s Restaurant in Marina Del Rey, CA.

For the past nearly four years their story has unfolded like the making of a Hollywood movie. They met while they were both guest workers in Japan; she was an American born English teacher and he was a Brazilian born welder working in an auto manufacturing plant. Their mutual Japanese friends introduced them because they were both foreigners.

In April 2010, Renee’s contract was up and she decided to return to the U.S. along with Wiliam who was now her fiance.  However Homeland Security had other ideas and Wiliam was stopped at LAX and forced to leave the country and go back to Brazil.

For the next eight months they battled U.S. and Brazilian authorities in order to get Wiliam’s visa approved so that he could return to California and they could marry. After many setbacks, his visa was finally approved in December. He arrived in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve and they were married on New Year’s Day in a ceremony that included a Brazilian style ring exchange and a Bread and Salt Sharing ceremony that involved all of the guests.

They have decided to take advantage of the Name Change Act of 2007. Wiliam Pereira de Carvalho will join his name with that of Renee Jones and their family will carry the surname Jones-Carvalho. They are expecting their first child in April 2011.

Hello from Rev. Connie Jones-Steward

Your wedding will be a unique life experience and your ceremony should be a reflection of that uniqueness. The words spoken by your officiant should reflect and express the deep love and commitment that the two of of you share.

I would be honored to help make your wedding day as stress free and memorable an experience as possible. As an ordained minister I am legally able to solemnize marriage in the State of California.

In addition to being a wedding officiant, I am also an anthropologist with knowledge of cultures, traditions and religions from around the world. My anthropological background has equipped me with research skills, cultural sensitivity and an appreciation for diversity that will help me to help you create a wedding that truly expresses your cultural and spiritual identities. And because I am a mobile officiant, I can perform your wedding at the location of your choice; elegant restaurant, intimate backyard or warm sunny beach.