I’ve been hearing this question a lot lately. Many people know that they need an officiant to marry them, but do not know any more than that.
Some couples may have Vegas-style weddings in mind when they hear that an officiant is performing the marriage ceremony. NOT TRUE! For starters, here in Ontario there are no shotgun weddings. Couples need to take the time on a weekday to visit city hall and pay the money required by that city hall to obtain a marriage license. Licenses are then valid for three months. Marriages are just not as hastily entered into.
Each officiant approaches their weddings in different ways. For me, part of the fun is meeting with my couples beforehand and talking about the wedding as a whole, not just the ceremony. I LOVE hearing what couples are planning. As more and more people move away from spiritual, church weddings, the content of the ceremony becomes unique to each couple. The fun of my job is helping couples determine what they want for themselves and how their vision of a perfect ceremony can be fulfilled.
Yes, we do have to address the serious side of the wedding which is signing the paperwork. I sit with my couples and explain the paperwork to them, including the responsibilities I have and their responsibilities too. This is one of the most important legal documents a person will sign and I want to ensure the couple understands what they are signing and what will happen with their License afterward. There are also government rules/requests about applying for Marriage Certificates and I pass that information along as well.
Arriving at the ceremony early is not only necessary to finalize paperwork and make sure everyone is ready, but it gives me a chance to chat with guests. Those few minutes I get to spend with family and friends of the couple allow me to introduce myself, learn where they’ve travelled from and help me get over my last-minute nerves. I think it reflects well on the couple if their officiant is relaxed and happy to be there. If I rush in at the last minute, throw my papers on the table and create a bit of a scene, I may not be an officiant for long! Having said that, I can appreciate how some of my fellow officiants must feel when booked for several weddings on one day and any of them start late. It can be difficult to remain composed when ceremonies are not starting on time and you know that a late start will reflect poorly on the officiant, even if it wasn’t their fault.
Some ceremonies do tend to be a bit more work for me than others. If the ceremony is at a venue with an event planner, that person tends to take over most details since he/she has the knowledge of that space and what has worked best for past weddings. They will likely control all the logistics (including knowing which members of the bridal party are paired up) and I am just expected to show up and fulfill my role. If I am marrying couples on their property, I will work more extensively with the couple (and may be invited to conduct a rehearsal) so that all logistics can be worked out together.
I always keep in mind that I am NOT the MOST important person the couple has hired. I AM important because I am performing the ceremony. But the chef is important because he is providing the food; the DJ for the sound and entertainment; and the photographer/videographer for capturing the memories…and so on. Everyone the couple has gathered for the day plays an important role. We are respectful of one another and work together so the bride and groom have the best day possible.
Officiants with All Seasons Wedding Ceremonies share this same approach. We all strive to provide our couples with the best ceremony we can. We share ideas and lean on each other for assistance. Hiring an officiant should be one of the easiest parts of the wedding. And if I can help make it a fun experience, lasting memories will be created.