Why I Love To Marry People

Let me count the “Whys”

I’ve been asked many times why I became a wedding officiant and I’ve usually answered by telling the story of how I became a wedding officiant, and not necessarily the why. The how is pretty clear: a friend asked me to get ordained and marry her and her fiance and, because she was a good friend, that’s what I did. And I loved marrying her and her fiance. It was one of those moments that said to me that I had found a new calling. And I am not a young man, so a new calling was an extraordinary revelation.

Joyous Occasions

I have seen a lot in my life. A lot of good and a lot of not so good. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world and share my knowledge and experience with thousands. But with all the wonderful evaluation form results, nothing was as satisfying to me as seeing, in real time, the smiling faces of the first couple that I had the privilege of marrying. What an absolutely joyous occasion. I usually cry at weddings when I’m a guest, but I couldn’t do that when the bride and groom were depending on me to perform a ceremony according to a script that we had worked on carefully so that it was exactly as they wanted it. This first wedding had 200+ guests in one of Portland’s most prestigious venues. And when I pronounced them man and wife and presented them to their friends and family it was absolute magic! So why to I do what I do? Because from that moment I realized that I love marrying people. They are so happy. Their guests are so happy for them. How can you not feel happy, uplifted and yes, even proud of yourself, for facilitating such a joyous occasion? I love marrying people!

Teaching and Coaching

Most of the people who hire me as their officiant fall into two categories: young couples who are getting married for the first time and more mature couples who are tying the knot with new partners, sometimes including kids from one or both first marriages. I spent many years in the seminar and consulting business and I always found that what made me successful was my ability to listen before speaking, teaching, and coaching. So when I work with couples who have no idea what kind of ceremony they want, how a ceremony usually goes, what kinds of vows they want, etc., I’m happy to guide them and offer suggestions. That’s why the up-front in-person consults are so important. I find out what they really want and suggest ways to make sure that their ceremony meets all of their needs, wants, and desires.

Exceeding Expectations

Many years ago I was profoundly influenced by a boss in my high-tech days. He said that the most important thing that you could do for customers if you (a) wanted them back or (b) wanted them to recommend you was to under-promise and over deliver. To exceed their expectations. To deliver services from the beginning to the completion of the relationship that provided not just customer satisfaction but actually provided customer delight. And I have always strived to do that in all of my endeavors. I think that is one of the reasons that I have been privileged to receive so many wonderful recommendations from so many of my clients. And I love my clients! They have been universally great people who have depended on me to make their special day as perfect as possible. I love making that happen!

Each Ceremony is Unique

I don’t think that “cookie cutter” approaches are the best way to serve my clients. While I have resources to provide “canned” scripts and vows for religious and non-religious ceremonies, and for elements like unity candle, sand, hand fasting, and others, I really like to make sure that I understand where my clients are coming from and what they want their ceremony to convey to their family, friends, and other guests. I know that they — and you —  have a choice of officiants, some more and some less expensive than what I offer. But I don’t quibble with folks who want a “quick and dirty” cheap canned ceremony. There are lots of officiants out there who can provide that. I want clients who value personal service, in-person up-front consultations, and ceremonies that fulfill all of their unique needs, wants, and desires. All at reasonable price points. Those are the clients that I love to marry!

How Big Should Your Wedding Be?

I had the opportunity to answer a question on Quora today and I wanted to share the question and my answer to the question, and some advice for all of you spouses-to-be. The question posed was:

My future in-laws want a huge wedding and want to spend a lot to keep their 400+ guests happy. I want a simple wedding because I care more about the marriage than the wedding. Their idea of the wedding is financially straining on my family, because what we saved up is not enough.

My answer was:

Jon Turino, Wedding Officiant (2015-present)

 “Weddings can be incredibly expensive if not properly planned. I think 400+ guests — unless you live in India — is going way overboard. You and your fiance will be going forward in your lives together and your responsibilities to your future in-laws are minimal. If they want to pay for the wedding, you might acquiesce; otherwise going into a large amount of debt to satisfy them is a very bad way to start your new married life.

There are dozens — or more — checklists available for choosing wedding guests. Close family, close friends, close coworkers, people who might be upset if not invited, etc. Beyond that list there is no reason to spend $100-$200 — or more — per guest just so the in-laws can impress their friends.

You don’t mention how your fiance feels about this situation so I suggest that you two have a serious conversation about what you and he want and how you view the situation together.”

My advice is:

If you want to start out right then start with your guest list. Then get the event planner/coordinator who can help you find a venue that fits that list and your desires for a theme and location. Then you’ll want to get the caterer, the DJ/musician(s), the photographer, etc. And, if you are the bride, don’t forget the dress! And don’t forget to book your officiant early. He/she will probably be the least expensive, but most important, person you choose! Find out more at http://yourminister.org/the-ultimate-wedding-checklists-list/.

As always, your comments are welcome anytime.