Embracing your lifestyle, national origin, gender expression, ability, culture, traditions and values.

Dan Jones, a wedding minister for all genders

Embracing Ceremony Blog

The Worst Advice You’ll Get on Hiring a Wedding Officiant

Since I’m pretty active in the Taos wedding officiant scene I hear a lot of stories. Most of these tales come to me from venue coordinators, photographers, florists and other wedding associates, and prospective clients sometimes share the factors they’re weighing in making decisions about hiring a wedding officiant. I thought I’d distill and share some of the potential lessons in these stories.

Having a Relative as Wedding Officiant

“My ‘brother’ is going to marry us!” might be what I hear most frequently. I’d ask yourself a couple of questions. Is your brother as committed to this as you are? Is this move financially motivated?

As a wedding minister in Taos, I don’t want to be a naysayer. However, family and friends that get licensed in order to legally officiate your wedding can be a weak link in the chain (the chain being the professionals you assemble to assure yourselves that your big day flows smoothly). You don’t want hiccups on your wedding day! Will your relative have the experience and commitment to oversee the timeline? And do you really want to deprive them of the opportunity to be relaxed and present on your wedding day?

hiring a wedding officiant ensures a relaxed wedding day
You don’t need a relative officiating to have humor interjected to your ceremony

At many of the venues where I officiate, the coordinators breathe a sigh of relief when they see me coming (at larger venues I check in with them a week ahead). That’s because I not only make their job a little easier, but I assure a smooth flow from processional lineup through to the end of the ceremony. That reflects well on the entire wedding process and subsequently, the venue.

Awkward moments are good to avoid. Some of the horror stories I hear about when the ceremony is being officiated by a “first-timer” are:

  • Ceremony scripts on an electronic device that malfunctions (device or operator!) mid-ceremony.
  • Licenses that aren’t completed correctly.
  • Ceremony elements that aren’t set up (properly or at all) such as sand for a sand ceremony.
  • Officiants that stumble repeatedly while speaking.
  • And tears, while generally good, can be a bit much for guests to bear if the speaker keeps choking up.

A Courthouse Wedding

Another thing I hear, particularly for elopements or very small ceremonies, “We’re going to the courthouse and have the judge marry us.” Really? You want to get married in the same place people go to get a divorce? Even if the ceremony is just a formality in your mind, wouldn’t you like to make it a pleasant memory? It should be something you can fondly look back on over the years – hopefully decades! Hiring a wedding officiant does not need to be terribly expensive, especially if you really do want just a simple ceremony to legalize your union.

Hiring a wedding officiant to conduct even the simplest of weddings is a good idea.
A simple ceremony with no pomp and circumstance can still be meaningful. (Notice I have the ceremony script on paper, so there’ll be no electronic failures to disrupt the wedding!)

Hiring a Wedding Officiant that is a “Yes” Person

On the surface it might seem advantageous to hire an officiant that will say “yes” to every idea you have. But in the end that defeats some of the reasons you’d hire a professional officiant. You want the benefit of their experience. As a Taos wedding officiant I always listen to the couple and hear everything they’d like to do as part of their ceremony. I then share with them my experience with each of their ideas. In the vast majority of cases that means a hearty endorsement. But occasionally I will tweak or divert them from their idea.

Here’s an example. Are you planning to get married outside? The Unity Candle ceremony is beautiful and can be done many ways. It provides a sweet option for including your mothers. But even a breath of breeze will make it impossible to keep your Unity Candle lit. I know this from experience. A few times my advice has not been heeded and I’m the one left holding the lighter and trying to make light (pun intended!) of the situation (a candle that won’t light). That’s a challenge in the middle of what should be a meaningful moment. As an experienced wedding celebrant, I would suggest alternatives, such as the sand ceremony.

Some rituals work better outdoors than other. Hiring a wedding officiant helps keep you out of trouble!
Pouring the sand and making a lasting work of art!

“Can We Talk to You for a Minute?”

In the end, hiring a wedding officiant is a deeply personal choice. Are you ready to find out if I might be a good fit to officiate your wedding? Please contact me so I can answer your questions. Or maybe you’d like to just chat with me for a few minutes so you see what your comfort level is with me. I’m based in Taos and my cell number is 720-849-5967. If you’re thinking of a destination wedding or eloping in Taos, I’m happy to help with some planning. I’m passionate about Taos and can help you with insider information!

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