You Don't Know What You Don't Know
"What do we not know that we need to know?"
I hear this question more than one would suspect when I am speaking with a couple for the first time, trying to answer their questions and get a sense for what they envision their ceremony to look like. It can be a daunting task to find, interview, and hire an officiant to preside over one of the most important moments of your life. And it isn't something that most people plan on doing more than once... so it isn't surprising that most people don't even know where to start with identifying an officiant who will provide them exactly the type of service that is right for them!
As much as I pride myself on being able to vibe with people from all walks of life, I am still not going to be the right fit for some couples. There is no such thing as an officiant that is perfect for everyone. Finding a working relationship that is comfortable and feels right is so important in making sure that your ceremony reflects exactly who you are, as a couple. Identifying your vision, and what you want to see in your ceremony before seeking someone to hire can help minimize the time and effort spent finding just the right person.
The first thing that I tell everyone is that this is YOUR wedding and if you can imagine it, you can do it. If you want the entire ceremony performed silently through interpretive dance, DO IT. If you want everyone in your wedding party dressed as the different stages of Madonna's career, it's your prerogative. Want your guests to stand and be participate in group vows, you should forge ahead. A shot ski unity ceremony? It's been done before, it can be done again. Want to enter to the traditional bridal march and have your father "give you away"? Again, I repeat, IT IS YOUR WEDDING AND YOU CAN DO WHATEVER FEELS RIGHT TO YOU!!! Your only limitations are your own pre-conceived notions that your wedding should be anything more than what you want it to be. It is a celebration of the two of you, your love, and your future together.
Before you start making calls, or requesting information, take the time to sit down with your partner and establish a few details about your shared vision for the ceremony.
Are you a couple that is looking most forward to the celebration with all of your guests and would prefer to stick to a short, simple ceremony? Or are you the type of couple that wants to have your personal love story used as the inspiration for a one-of-a-kind service? Or do you fall a little in between, preferring a standard service with a few personal touches? If you aren't looking for anything super personal, going with a flat-rate, one-size-fits-all officiant will suit you just fine. And they typically are very comfortable with the script that they use, so they sound good and they tend to be quite professional. When looking for someone that would provide you with custom work, do NOT contract them without asking for a writing sample. They should always be able to provide you with something that will give you an idea of their writing style. If they don't have ANYTHING to show you, thank them politely and move on to the next!
Do you want to participate in a unity ritual and have you decided on what kind? Once upon a time, the candle unity ceremony was all that anyone ever used. These days, you can take pretty much ANY shared interest and turn it into a unity ceremony. A quick Google search will provide a whole list of ideas; sand pouring, paint dripping, coffee bins, tree planting, handfasting, whiskey boxes, garland exchange, fire-starting... honestly, the list is endless. But even if you don't see something that works for your personalities, make it up! If you wish to get really creative, look for an officiant that does a lot of custom work. You will end up with something unique and unforgettable.
Let your mind run wild... and create an idea of what you would like to see. Before you know it, you will find the perfect officiant FOR YOU!