You choose the venue that suits you and your fiance the best. Then you book me to develop the script and vows that suit you two the best. Then I marry you with a ceremony that meets all of your needs, wants, and desires. What more could you ask for to make your wedding day as perfect as possible? Check Jon’s Booking Calendar or give me a call at 503-877-4609 to check my availability for your desired date and venue.
Congratulations on your engagement!
Are you scared yet? Let me ease your fears.
Planning your wedding is a daunting task. No question about it and I don’t intend to trivialize your trepidations.
Guest list first. Your one most controllable expense factor. Wedding date. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fees for almost everything are typically higher during the peak season — May through September in the Portland/Vancouver region. And Saturdays always get booked first by venues and vendors of all types.
So now to go to work on a venue. Indoors or out? Or outdoors with an indoor backup? Important! Catering might be next — supplied by the venue as part of a package or do you want to bring in your own food (or have an independent caterer take care of that)? What about the cake (or cupcakes or other dessert options)? What about bartending needs if you plan to offer adult beverages at the reception?
Music? For the ceremony and the reception? A DJ, a live musician or group, or a playlist on your smartphone? Can your venue handle your choice?
Oh! And, by the way, you’ll need a professional officiant to perform your actual wedding ceremony! Leaving that detail to the last minute could leave you in the lurch! And that’s where I come in.
I’d love to marry you and your fiance. Let’s have an up-front conversation about what your processional will look like. How many bridesmaids and groomsmen? Flower girl(s) and ring bearer? Grandparents, parents, and ushers? Who gives this bride? Religious or non-religious ceremony? Special readings, songs, or remembrances? Special ethnic, cultural, or other ceremony elements (like unity candle, sand, handfasting, rushnicks, or others)? This part can be the least stressful and simplest part of your wedding planning tasks because I take full care of it for you.
I’ll send you a draft script and vows to which we can make any changes that you’d like so that the ceremony meets all of your needs, wants, and desires. So you’ll know exactly what to expect on your wedding day. I’ll “spoon feed” you the vows and the ring exchange words so that you’ll have nothing to memorize or remember. You’ll simply be able to enjoy your ceremony as we share it with your guests!
Check out the reviews and the photos of the 150+ weddings I’ve been privileged to perform over the last few years and give me a call or an email to see if I’m available on your desired date. I normally do only one wedding per day so that I can make sure that you have the best experience possible.
Many couples make the mistake of leaving their officiant selection to the last minute. I urge you not to do that to yourselves! Let’s give you a ceremony that you’ll love!
I Love My Clients!
My sincere thanks to all of you couples who provided me with the privilege of officiating at your wedding in 2017!
And special thanks to those of you who made the time and effort to provide those 5-star reviews on so many websites for me. Looks like I’ll pick up Top Pro and Couples Choice awards from at least a couple of sites. And I’m now on a bunch more websites for the 2018 wedding season, including these:
If you haven’t written your reviews yet, I understand. Between honeymoon travel, thank you notes, name change activities, etc., these things can fall into a crack or seem unimportant to you. On the other hand, were the reviews important to you when you selected me to be your officiant? My guess is that your answer is yes, so please help future couples by providing those reviews now. It’s never too late!
I did my first ceremony for Lily and Chong in August of 2015 at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland and I owe a real debt of gratitude to Lily for getting me into my true calling as a wedding officiant. I did a dozen or so weddings in 2015, more than 40 in 2016, and more than 85 in 2017. I’ve loved doing every one of them. And the clients I have served. And 2018 looks like it will be well over the 100+ mark. If you need an officiant I’d love to marry you and your fiance, so please check Jon’s Booking Calendar for your desired date and get your retainer in as soon as you’ve selected your date and venue. I’ll work with you to create a ceremony and vows that meet all of your needs, wants, and desires.
It’s now engagement season. I’ve already booked a half-dozen 2018 weddings from the Thanksgiving holiday and I expect that there’ll be many more through Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and then Valentines Day. Congratulations in advance if you get engaged during these times and I hope you’ll contact me on my website or by phone or email, or via one of the many other sites where I am listed so that I can make your special day as perfect as possible.
In the meantime, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2018. I look forward to speaking with you and to marrying you! Here are a smattering of photos and review. There are many more on my website.
How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows: 10 Tips
If you’re writing your own vows, you’ve chosen an incredible and meaningful way to personalize your wedding ceremony. It’s a chance to tell your story, give guests a peek into what makes your relationship tick, and to share meaningful, sweet words with the person you love. It can also be a pretty challenging task because it’s so intimate—you are really baring your heart to your fiancé, and you’re doing so in front of your family and friends. If you’re struggling to come up with the right words, read on for ten tips that will help you get through writing your wedding vows.
1. Talk about Your Vows Together
One of the hardest parts about exchanging vows is worrying over how people will compare your words to your fiancé’s. Were hers longer? Did he get more sentimental? Did she make everyone laugh? Did he make everyone cry?
Instead of considering vow writing a competition, get on the same page about your expectations. You don’t have to share what it is you’re going to say, but come to an agreement about the following:
How long will the vows be?
Will you share inside jokes or would you rather keep things more generic?
Do you want to incorporate elements of traditional or [religious vows] into your own?
Consider these starter questions—but don’t hesitate to ask your significant other if you’re stuck on anything else. Once you two have a game plan in mind, writing will be easier.
2. Find a Quiet Place to Reflect on Your Feelings and Write from the Heart
Don’t plan on writing romantic vows while your fiancé is in the other room with the TV blaring or when you have a work deadline on your mind. Find a time when your stress level is low and you can really spend a few quiet minutes thinking about your relationship. To help the ideas start flowing, consider propping pictures of you and your fiancé from throughout the relationship around your writing space as inspiration.
3. Make a List
You don’t have to try to put everything into sentences right away. The first step to writing your vows should be creating a list. Jot down all the things you love about your fiancé, what you’re looking forward to most in your marriage, and what promises you want to make to your future husband or wife. Set the list aside for a day or two, then go back and highlight your favorite items on the list. Use those as the starting point for your vows.
4. Write Up to Three Drafts
Once you’ve made your list, done your research, and written your first draft, walk away. Take a few days—even a week—to give you and your vows some space. After you’ve taken time apart, go back and reread what you wrote. A little separation from your words will do a whole lot of good and allow for you to fix anything with a clear head. If needed, do this one or two more times. But after three times, stop. The bottom line is that you wrote from the heart, and continuously rewriting will drive you crazy! Don’t put that pressure on yourself.
5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Plan to have your vows written at least three weeks before your wedding. This will give you time to write without the added pressure of the approaching day and also give you time to practice reciting your vows in front of the mirror. Trust us: You’ll be thankful for the rehearsal when those wedding day jitters kick in!
6. Say “I Love You”
This seems like a no-brainer, but Monique Honaman, wedding officiant and author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, says she is often shocked at how many couples leave out this little three-word phrase from their vows. “Isn’t that why people are getting married?” she asks. “Yes, we assume that’s a given that we must love someone if we are willing to stand by them through thick and thin, but it’s always nice to hear and emphasize.”
7. Tell Your Partner You’ll Be There Through Thick and Thin
Almost every vow we’ve ever heard touches on sticking around through sickness and health, through good times and bad times, and for richer or for poorer. They’re sentiments are repeated so often, Honaman says, “We can become immune to what they really mean.” So when you express your intent to stay by your spouse’s side, it’s smart to say what that means to you and how you’ll go about it. “The reality is that all marriages have their cycles of peaks and valleys, not always based on huge dramatic changes in life, but just because life gets busy,” Honaman says. “It’s nice to communicate your intent to get through those valleys together.”
8. Acknowledge You’ll Need Help and Support of Others
You’ve gathered your friends and family to celebrate your wedding, but the truth is, you’ll need them just as much during your marriage. So, Honaman recommends you “use your vows to acknowledge that you need others to help your marriage be successful,” she says. “This may mean acknowledging the role of religion or God in making your marriage work, or the role of family and friends who will help support you when times get tough. I believe it’s helpful to know the two of you aren’t in this alone.”
9. Get Inspired with Books, Songs, Movies, and Poems
If you have a favorite line from a movie or song that expresses your feelings, use it as a starting point. Also, browse through some children’s books, like Maurice Sendak and Ruth Krauss’s I’ll Be You and You’ll Be Me and I Like Youby Sandol Stoddard. Kid’s books often have a way of communicating deep, complex emotions in simple sentences, so they can provide some inspiration.
10. Use Other Vows as a Template
It can be helpful to start out with a set of standard vows and then personalize them. If you’re looking for a good starting place, 15 Traditional Wedding Vows to Inspire Your Own offers vows from different cultures and faiths around the world. They can be a helpful guide for anyone who is struggling to write their own wedding vows.
This very short video is a placeholder for a video currently in production that talks in much more detail about the topics shown in the graphics.
I’m working on the complete video between rehearsals and ceremonies right now since we are at the height of the wedding season here in the Portland/Vancouver area.
Comments and questions welcome. I’ll try to address them in the completed video!
A Plea to Venues, DJs, and Musicians
Wedding guests often complain that they couldn’t hear the bride and groom recite their vows or the words that go with their exchange of rings. This is especially true for outdoor weddings, which are very popular in the Pacific Northwest from June through September.
As an officiant, I carry my own wireless microphone setup: lavalier microphone, body pack transmitter, and receiver with cables for connecting to the audio system in use by the vendor hired for music and sound. Just in case they don’t have one for me. And because a handheld microphone is virtually useless when you are using two hands for the script and vows. And also because many handheld or on-stand microphones are useless unless they are within an inch or so of your mouth.
Try taking that one virtually useless microphone and handing it to the bride and groom, most of whom have never used a microphone before, so that their guests can presumably hear them speak while they are trying to choke out vows or exchange rings and you just add to their stress without success.
Before I became an officiant I did seminars all over the world. Carried my own wireless lavalier microphone setup. A transformer for European and Asian power. A box full of cables and adapters for the various connection needs in multiple countries. And it usually worked flawlessly.
Not always so for weddings. Sometimes mine has frequency interference issues. If the sound person has his or her own wireless lavalier for me, I’m a happy camper. But my microphone won’t pick up the voices of the bride and groom. A fairly important pair of people whose guests would really like to hear them, and not just me!
So here is my plea: Invest in a SYSTEM with at least three wireless microphones and a mixer so that you can provide body packs and lavalier microphones for the bride, groom, and officiant. It is not prohibitively expensive and it will drastically increase your customer satisfaction.
I just did a wedding today at a famous popular venue. That venue provided a useless microphone on a stand and a small amplifier and speaker with the quality of a child’s karaoke machine. It was pitiful, and far below the level of service that I would expect from such a prestigious venue at such a significant price.
I’ve seen vendors, many of whom appear to be real professionals, with thousands of dollars worth of turntables, computers, mixers, amplifiers, speaker systems and other fancy equipment who somehow don’t even think about making sure that the couple being married can be heard.
Please, people, make the needed investment. I’ll bet your client satisfaction scores will skyrocket!
And one last bit of advice for brides and grooms: When you select your venue, or your DJ, musician, or other audio professional, make sure that you ask them if they provide the equipment that you comfortably need in order to be heard (and also maybe connected to your videographer).
I’d love to hear from you folks, vendors and brides and grooms alike. Let me know what you think. And thanks for reading.
I got to thinking last night as I reflected on this past weekend’s two weddings where I was privileged to officiate. I’d met with both couples well before the weddings and customized the scripts and vows for them. I also advised them on the processional and talked to them about staying calm on their wedding day because it was all going to be fine. I am an optimist, after all.
Both weddings went beautifully. And when I spoke to the brides they were both happy with the ceremonies and happy that it was finally done! They both confessed to being a little overwhelmed with planning and details between engagement and ceremony time. So I put together a little 55-second video with some slides and put it up on YouTube. You can watch it below.
As I was editing the video above, I was inspired to create a longer version of the presentation so that I could reassure future brides that as panicked as they might be feeling at the moment, everything would work out just fine, at least as far as the ceremony and the officiant — me! — were concerned. We had that part of the ceremony fully under control. You can see that longer (8-minute) video starring yours truly below as well.
I would love to have your comments on these two videos. And a description of your experiences from when he “popped the question” to when your ceremony had been completed. I think other future brides would like to be reassured that what they are feeling is normal!
Thanks for reading and watching. And feel free to share this blog post.
There are some really super tips in this article published on Buzzfeed. Read it at https://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/clever-tricks-to-make-wedding-planning-so-much-easier. Enjoy!
Spring, Summer, and even Fall are coming up fast!
Statistics from WeddingWire.com last November indicated that Officiants are almost the last to be hired as a necessary vendor in the wedding ceremony planning process. That may have been true in 2016, as I received dozens of requests during July, August, and September and was able to accommodate those clients for the most part.
But this year seems to be different. People are planning their weddings earlier and requesting officiants much earlier in the planning process than I’ve experienced before.
The graphic above, with March on top and November on the bottom, shows the number of bookings for which I have confirmed dates with paid deposits for the rest of the coming year. By my count, there are fifteen on the books already. What is more interesting, though, is the increase in the number of requests that I’ve experienced over the last week or so.
I have had to turn down three requests each for June 10th and June 17th, two on July 7th, three each for August 12th and 26th, and another for September 9th. Those seem to really be the most popular dates coming up.
I hate turning people down when I’m already booked, but when I am booked for a date, time, and venue I honor those commitments. And I feel sorry for the folks I’m unable to serve because, frankly, I love marrying people! So if you are planning to wed in the next 6-8 months, I suggest that you select your officiant once you’ve secured your venue, rather than waiting until the last minute. That way you can avoid disappointment by having to settle for someone who would not be your first choice.
There are literally hundreds of checklists, many in previous posts on my blog, that can help you with your wedding planning needs. Please take advantage of these resources and remember: If you fail to plan, you may be planning to fail! You don’t want to subject yourself to any more last minute stresses than you need to, so proper planning and early hiring are critical to accomplishing that.
If you have any questions at all about scripts, vows, rehearsals, or other ceremony elements, I’m available by phone, email, or live video chat on multiple platforms. Have a wonderful ceremony!
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.
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.
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!