Call me biased . . . because I am! I think one of the most important, overlooked, and underrated decisions you will make concerning your wedding day is who will perform your ceremony.
Ideally this person helps set the tone for your wedding day, as well as equip you with some tools for the marriage journey. It doesn’t mean that this person has to be a certain way, a certain gender, have certain degrees, or even be married themselves.
It does mean they should be able to tell you why they are doing what they are doing, and articulate some underlying philosophy around their job. We think it is a little like dating. There are no right or wrong answers, but you are looking for a match. Is this someone who can capture who you are as a couple, what you are doing, and hold the space around you as you marry? Here are some good, fun questions we like to be asked:
1. How long have you been marrying people? Why are you still doing it?
There are all sorts of versions of this question. For example, “How many couples have you married?” or “What got you into this line of work?” In any form, we love being asked! This question allows us to unpack and explain what we do, but also suggests to us that you care about the answer.
In our business, we’ve been marrying people for over 20 years. And for us, marrying people is a lot more than simply loving weddings and the fun of the day (and it is fun!) We believe this day is not about us, but about our obligation to be there for you – our couples! We want to speak about you, and equip you for your marriage.
Our biggest hope and dream (yes, we have hopes for you) is for our process to help couples better understand what they are doing not just the day of the wedding, but throughout their marriage. And here is a truth: we are still doing what we do because we believe in the mutuality of it. Our relationships are better because of what we’ve learned from couples, just as we hope our couples learn from us.
2. How does your ceremony process work? How much input do we, the couple, have?
Are there timelines, processes, and commitments? For us, yes! We have a process that walks a couple through crafting and customizing their ceremony step-by-step. It works regardless of how much input our couples want or need. Some want little input, and others quite a bit. We have refined it over the years, and continue to adjust to best meet needs.
We set timelines and deadlines for our couples so not only they can relax into their wedding day, but so we are prepared as well. By thinking through a process, we are free to be flexible. In our opinion, it’s easier to make changes from a framework versus figuring it out on the fly. The point is, we’ve thought through what does and does not work for us and for our couples, allowing us to bring tip-top professional services to your big day.
3. How many weddings do you do a weekend, and what is your back-up plan?
Different people have different answers to this question, and there is no perfect answer. We encourage couples to look for consistency. Our answer aligns with our business philosophy, and reflects our commitment to highly customized, professional service. In our business, we do not stack weddings.
We never do more than one wedding a day, and rarely more than one a weekend. We have internal procedures in place that allow us to access each other’s files in case of emergency, as we do not work alone. We are part of a connectional community, and not only cover for each other, but have many trusted colleagues who are capable of stepping in should circumstances require it. We know this means our couples pay a little more, but we are committed to bringing our whole selves and the work we’ve done together with our couples to their wedding day.
4. Describe a really cool wedding you did.
Here, too, there are several ways to ask and answer this question. For us, this question allows us to talk more about our process of customization. It also highlights our “couples-first” way of being in this business. For us, examples are cool not just because they are cool, but because it shines a light on our couples and who they are.
Ways we articulate or ritualize wedding ceremonies vary. So, while origami wishing stars are really awesome, they were specific to our Japanese bride the way the sugar ritual was perfect for our Persian bride. Often the most fun we have with our couples is exploring and uncovering what would work (or not) for them.
5. What rules do you have?
We do have a few rules. We’ve been doing this long enough to know what does and does not work for our couples, but even more – what does and does not work for us. We know we are not a perfect match for every couple, and every couple will not want to work with us.
Saying no is just as important as saying yes . . . not just to your marriage and spouse (truth!), but also with your wedding vendors. So, in some ways, we are modeling the boundaries we hope our couples will learn to adopt. There are some things we won’t do (allow you to wing it on your personalized wedding vows), but there are also many things we will do (sure, you can write your own vows!)
Now, go out and find your perfect officiant, ok? Maybe, if we are lucky, it might even be us!
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.