Your dress fits like it was stitched by Cinderella’s magical cartoon birds. Your tulips match the Meyer lemon frosting. No violin versions of “Baby Got Back” can be wrangled from the string quartet, no matter how desperately the tipsy best man pleads.
You’re ready. Except for one nagging detail…the ceremony.
Deciding how to vow your love to your love is easily as terrifying as finding a wedding gown – and much harder than cake tasting. But there is someone who can guide you through the process – an experienced wedding officiant. Since we have a whole roster of gifted officiants on Thumbtack, we polled a few to guide you through the process of customizing your wedding ceremony to fit your personalities and your relationship.
Connect: “Both individuals are unique and coming from different paths in life to join as one,” says Rabbi Gary Spero. “A ceremony can reflect the story of each partner, with readings, customs, and rituals tailored to each person. If two people come from different religious, cultural, or spiritual traditions, you can blend elements of each into a ceremony that celebrates the couple.”
Have a vision: “Don’t try to include every idea that sounds good to you.” says Rev. Bonnie Berger. You don’t need to stuff two readings, three rituals and four songs into your wedding – especially if you’re trying to please someone else. “My advice is that a wedding ceremony should be something that has meaning to you as a couple,” says Brian Borgia of Monterey Bay Wedding Officiants. “Often, I will meet with couples who are looking to please parents and grandparents by inserting readings that don’t have any meaning to them. The most important thing to remember is that this is your ceremony and your memory.”
Don’t let guests get antsy: “Keep the ceremony between ten and twenty-five minutes,” says Janine Nichol. “Anything longer than that and you begin to lose the crowd.” Berger adds, “At that point, guests are thinking about what kind of drink they want at the bar or sneaking a peek at their Facebook page.”
Re-envision tradition: A unity ritual doesn’t have to include a candle. If you met at a coffee shop, you can create a ritual around the sharing of coffee.
Location, location, location: “If you have an outdoor wedding, think about not using a unity candle,” says Gary Shultz. “It will blow out and someone will inevitably tell you it’s bad luck.” Rather than skimming your guest list looking for the spoilsports, just make sure you think it through. “If you have a wedding in a carpeted church, avoid a sand ceremony. It’s very hard to get sand out of carpet.” If you’re asking guests to sit outside at the height of summer, make sure you have water nearby to prevent dehydration.
Don’t wait to find an officiant: Book your officiant around the same time you book the venue. “Many couples try to book an officiant within sixty days of the wedding and sometime in the same month,” says officiant Jay Binnebose. “This will significantly limit your choices.” Pastor Mark Turansky says, “The biggest mistake I see couples make is hiring an officiant as an afterthought thinking that all officiants are the same. A good wedding officiant will connect with you as a couple, make you and your guests feel welcome, and create a service that is both fun and memorable. Be willing to pay a little more to get a seasoned professional. It will take your special day from being okay to being one to remember for a lifetime.”
Make a wedding check-list: “I’ve had multiple couples arrive without their wedding licenses, without all or some of the wedding rings, and without the bride’s bouquet,” says Karlene Williams. “One couple forgot everything!” If you forget something – or multiple somethings – relax. It’s all happened before and your officiant will know how to handle it. “Laugh, relax, and enjoy the new life you’re starting together,” says Williams. “You’re fine.”
Have any memories of your officiant on your wedding day?