My fiance, Dan, comes with me to a lot of my weddings – he takes pictures, helps me trouble shoot my sound system, is an emergency witness, and provides excellent moral support (plus, I buy him dinner afterwards). So, over the past year, as my unofficial assistant, he’s witnessed more weddings than most people will go to their whole lives! Considering when I started out on this whole officiant thing, he was a self-proclaimed wedding hater who thought he would never actually get married (as Joey from Friends so eloquently put it – “a complex fellow unlikely to take a wife”) – his support and interest in my ceremonies means a lot to me.
So when I say the word “fiance” to my couples, they immediately get very excited for me, and the first question they ask: “Who is performing YOUR wedding?” It’s a tough question!
Being on the other side of the officiant search? This is HARD! What a huge decision! What an immense amount of trust! This person is going to be standing up in front of ALL of my family and friends, talking about Dan and I and our relationship and our love on the biggest day of our lives. But you know – no pressure or anything.
So we’ve been meeting with wedding officiants, and I love seeing how Dan interacts with them, now that he is an unofficial wedding ceremony expert. We both have very strong ideas and feelings about specific things we want and don’t want in the ceremony, but could use some guidance on incorporating all of our ideas and plans in there. And that’s where the officiant comes in – taking our ideas, our stories, our plans, our random scraps of poetry I’ve been saving in my Google Notebook, and smushing it all together into a fabulous ceremony.
So – when you’re meeting with your officiant for the first time – or if you are planning on writing or working with someone to write your own ceremony and having a friend or family member officiate – there are two important questions to consider.
Number 1: What do you ABSOLUTELY want and not want in your ceremony?
Maybe you like some aspects of the more traditional vows, but you’d like to make them more personal. Are there any rituals, traditions, or readings that you’ve seen in other weddings and loved? Or is there a certain element that you both love that you’d like to incorporate into a ritual? What is kind of cool about weddings is that you can give meaning to ANYTHING. I’m doing a wedding on the beach next weekend where the couple will stand in a Circle of Love we’ve created in the sand – as their family and friends enter, they will place shells along the circle, to symbolize their love and support as they begin this new journey.
I found out that shells can symbolize the beginning of a new journey, and incorporated this as well. This entire ceremony was created just for them based on their request to incorporate the beach theme, with the shells, and their family and friends in a very physical and real way. I’m so excited to see it, I think it’s going to be just beautiful!
It’s just as important to tell your officiant what you DON’T want in your ceremony! Not only does this ensure that it won’t be in there, but it also helps to give them an idea of the kind of person you are, and what you are looking for in your ceremony. Tricky, right? We wedding officiants have all kinds of tricks like that up our sleeves.
Number 2: How do you imagine your wedding ceremony?
This is a tough one. Many people can imagine their entire weddings, down to the cocktail napkins, but often get a little stuck on the ceremony. Let me put it this way – close your eyes, and imagine you are standing up there. Do you hear laughter? Is there music? Are people crying (happy tears!). What is your officiant saying?
I know it sounds silly, but it can help you to get the picture in your head. Do you want your ceremony to be light hearted? Intimate? Romantic? When it’s over, what feeling would you like your family and friends to walk away with?
I asked my fiance these questions before our wedding officiant meetings, to prep him and make sure he was already thinking “wedding ceremony” thoughts. And I think it really helped!