Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Selecting The Right Marriage Officiant For Your Wedding Ceremony

~ Selecting the person that will solemnize your marriage ~

After years in the wedding industry as an ordained minister and wedding officiant, one of the things that still amazes me is that so many brides and grooms spend countless hours planning every conceivable detail of their wedding, only to get to the very end of the process and realize almost as an afterthought, that they still haven’t found that special someone to actually perform or officiate the wedding ceremony itself!

Brides understandably spend a great deal of time and money on some or all of the following hoping to find just the right:

- Venue or Location for that idyllic setting for their wedding ceremony and reception
- Event planner to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time.
- Photographer/Videographer who’ll capture memorable pictures of all the family, friends & guests

- Florist who can provide beautiful bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres

- Limo or horse and buggy for that picturesque pre-ceremony arrival or post-wedding send-off

- Formal wear for that designer dress and fashionable gowns/tuxes for the bridesmaids and groomsmen
- Jeweler who can provide an elegant engagement ring and stylish wedding bands
- Singers and Musicians who can provide tasteful accompaniment during the ceremony

- DJ who can spin just the right tunes at the right times during the reception and party

- Rental company that can provide the right setups—including arbor and those white folding chairs

- Caterer who can provide the most delicious hors d’oeuvres, entrees, beverages and cakes
- Printer who can provide classic invitations, programs and thank-you notes
- Salon and Spa that can provide the hairstyle, manicure and pedicure to make you look your best
- Travel agency to help you book the perfect getaway for the most romantic honeymoon...  And on and on it goes.

While securing the right vendor for each of these tasks is certainly worthy of your attention, there are some who would rightly argue that all this attention focused on everything but the ceremony itself is almost like "majoring in the minor."

The truth is: the one main thing that you, as a couple, your wedding party, your parents and all your extended family, friends, and guests will remember MOST about your entire wedding day, is THE CEREMONY ITSELF!

But far too often, securing the right officiant to perform the right ceremony is left as an afterthought.  Unfortunately, far too many brides have found themselves standing at the altar, watching in disgust or in humiliation as an inexperienced, unprepared, notary-type clerk stands there in front of you, with a book in hand, more nervous than you are, reading word-for-word a few trite sentences. And, boom, after a few short minutes, your "Vegas-courthouse quickie" ceremony is over and the deed is done.

And there you are, dreading that you have to turn around, face the audience, and see the mortified look on the faces of your family and friends as you walk down the aisle after an extremely brief, abrupt ceremony that left everyone wishing for quite a bit more.

Honestly, what bride, especially one who has paid such close attention to so many other important details, would ever want to take a chance on what will be said at her wedding?  Clearly, the words that are spoken at your ceremony and the way they are delivered are extremely critical in determining how your overall wedding is perceived by the people you care about most. It cannot be overstated how important it is that you find the right officiant with the right experience who can perform the ceremony in just the right way.

Did you know that even the simplest of ceremonies contains over a dozen different critical components? For example, depending upon whether your ceremony will be conducted inside or outside, even a basic ceremony should include some or all of the following:

Family Blessing AKA "Giving Away the Bride"
Introductory Welcoming Remarks
Exchange of Vows
Exchange of Rings
Scripture or Special Readings from Family &/or Friends
Optional ceremony/tradition/custom
Final Blessings
Closing Remarks
Pronouncement as Husband and Wife
Invitation to Kiss the Bride
Congratulatory Remarks
Presentation of Bride and Groom to Audience
Photo Instructions
Reception Announcement
 And what bride would want someone to officiate her ceremony that seems nervous, unprepared, or unable to project as a confident public speaker?

Some things to consider:

- How many years of experience does the officiant have in performing wedding ceremonies?
- Are they a public speaker or will he/she be more nervous than you are?
- Experience - How many ceremonies have they performed — a few, a dozen, a hundred - several hundred?
- Does they possess a nice smile and a warm disposition so that the audience feels welcomed and invited to be a part of the ceremony?
- Do they make good eye contact with the couple, the audience or do they  have to stare down at their book to read everything word-for-word?
- Do they offer a consultation up front so that you feel confident that they know you and how your ceremony will flow and unfold on your wedding day?
- Is the ceremony they write just the 'same ol' same ol' or is it romantic, meaningful and memorable...based on what YOU want?
- Do they provide you with a copy of your ceremony prior to your wedding day so that you do not have any 'unwanted surprises'?
- Do they they dress in a conservative, contemporary manner or will they show up in a bright, floral dress or in a sport coat with unshined shoes and a loud tie?
- Will they just be on time or will he arrive early to set your mind at ease?
- Do they have adequate voice projection so that they can be heard in the back rows of the audience without amplification?
- Do they really care about you as a couple?
- Do they truly enjoy officiating weddings or are you 'just a number'?

These are just some of the many things you should consider when conducting your search for the right wedding officiant.

I am confident that you will find all this and more in my service to you. The hundreds of couples who have gone before you confess that I have exceeded their expectations in every area of ceremony preparation and presentation.  See my website,  the Testimonials page for sample of some of their comments.

"The ceremony IS your wedding! -  The most important part of your day.
Let me help you make it Romantic, Meaningful and Memorable!"