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 to Avoid Becoming a “Bridezilla”!

You CAN be in Control Without Going Crazy!

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Did you ever watch this old reality show? It was on We TV from June 1st, 2004 until October 11, 2013 — an incredibly long run for a low budget reality show. The billing description reads: “Godzilla has nothing on a bride-to-be planning her dream wedding, as evidenced by the aptly named “Bridezillas.” The docu-series follows women who were perfectly normal before wedding planning took over her life. Grimly determined to realize their “dream wedding” at all costs, these out-of-control brides make the time leading up to their day of days an utter nightmare for everyone around them. In the end, they hope all the stress and meltdowns are worth it and they have the perfect wedding they’ve been dreaming of since they were little.” 

Like most reality shows, this one found the absolutely worst examples of brides who represent only a tiny portion of the brides who marry each year. And, like most reality shows, it tried to make its audience think that all brides exhibited the characteristics of its “stars.”

My experience with brides is that most are very reasonable, very smart women who want their ceremony to be as close to the wedding day they’ve dreamed of during their childhood and that they want everyone — the wedding party, the parents and the guests, to have the best experience possible. So what goes wrong?

I’ve spent many years in the business consulting world and have always told my clients that a failure to plan is akin to planning to fail. And my recent experiences as a wedding officiant have led me to believe that what has been true in the business world is equally true in the wedding world!

I think that what may turn a perfectly reasonable bride-to-be into a “bridezilla” is simple panic. “Oh, my God! The wedding is only (insert number of months, weeks or sometimes even only days here) away and we still haven’t booked (insert venue, caterer, DJ/musician, cake maker, hair and makeup specialist, officiant, etc.). HELP!

If you are a bride-to-be, the best thing you can do to avoid becoming a “bridezilla” is to begin the wedding planning process as early as possible after your fiance has “popped the question” and you  have said “Yes!”. In a previous blog post, I provide some guidance about engagement length versus wedding date selections and I do recommend that you take a few minutes to read it. Beyond that, here are some hints to help you stay calm, collected and in control so that you can have the best wedding day experience possible.

  • As mentioned above, start the planning process early!
  • Set out a timeline of things that must be done and people/organizations that must be hired.
  • Consult wedding related websites and blogs for lists of things you may want to consider so you don’t forget anything.
  • Delegate what you can to your fiance, your family, and your friends if they are willing to become involved to that level.
  • Keep a current list of the things that need doing and their status so that you don’t have to think about them constantly.
  • Don’t procrastinate! You’ll go nuts!

Also remember Murphy’s First Law: Whatever Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong! But you know what? Your world will not come to an end if there is a glitch or two. This is normal. The hair and makeup artist will be late. Or you’ll be late because you stayed up too late worrying about the things you might have missed or that you might be late! See the list above to avoid those pitfalls. If you start the planning process early, make your hiring decisions on a timely basis and — very important — don’t “second guess” yourself — or make last minute changes that could have a negative impact on all of the other things or the overall schedule.

Sequence of Research - WeddingWire - 08-15-2016As an ordained minister who serves as a professional wedding officiant, I’m usually one of the last people to be hired (see chart at left courtesy of WeddingWire.com). But I can provide you with an up-front consultation to let you know that the vows, ceremony elements and any special features (e.g., unity candle or sand ceremony, remembrances, guest comments, special songs, etc.) will be handled exactly as you want them to be. Venues are obviously first priority. And good photographers need early booking as well. You can see the other major elements in the chart, but these are only a small portion of the things, people and organizations that you may want to consider for your special day.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself! You have a spouse-to-be who should take on a full share of the planning tasks. And actually planning the wedding together can be a great test of whether or not  you’ll be able to “work together, share together and support each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, …”

Thanks for reading this post. I’d love to have your feedback on it and please do feel free to share it on your social media channels with everyone you feel might find it interesting. And if you are in the Portland/Vancouver area and need an officiant for an upcoming wedding, please do keep me in mind. I’d love to marry you!