Before I became a professional wedding officiant, I thought, “What a cool job, you just have to work 20 minutes on a Saturday!” It didn’t take me long to realize that’s not the kind of wedding officiant I was going to be.
I wanted to help my couples create a wedding ceremony that represented who they were, was interesting and engaging, and be one that they and their guests would remember forever. I didn’t start out spending up to 20 hours on each wedding, but slowly over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my process. Now I work with my couples for months in advance of their wedding, collaborating with them to craft a meaningful, customized ceremony that’s full of heart and joy!
Now that I know what it takes to be a professional wedding officiant, I want to debunk some of the myths of what an officiant really does.*
MYTH #1: Officiants work for 20 minutes on a Saturday.
FACT #1: Some officiants might do this, but the majority of professional officiants do not. We spend many hours in advance of the wedding writing the ceremony, formatting it, fine-tuning it, preparing for it and practicing it. We respond to your emails, calls and texts; organize the rehearsal; liaison with your wedding team; offer guidance and support on how to get your marriage license; complete the marriage license legally; and arrive early to your wedding. Not to mention all the administrative work it takes to run a small business. As I mentioned, I can spend up to 20 hours on ONE wedding.
MYTH #2: Officiants aren’t responsible for the rehearsal and will just show up and be told what to do.
FACT #2: Again, this may be true for some officiants, but not me! I work with my couples to envision and then plan all aspects of the ceremony from lining up beforehand to recessing afterwards. Together we plan out all those logistics and then I help manifest them into reality. I manage the wedding rehearsal (in collaboration with the planner, if there is one) and so do many other professional officiants.
MYTH #3: Officiants charge way too much money for just a few minutes worth of work.
FACT #3: We already established that officiants do so much more work than just read a script on wedding day. Our prices reflect our value. Remember, we’re not just reading a script, we’re guiding you through the most important part of your wedding day. We’re creating an experience for you. We’re holding the space in which you and your beloved can be totally present. We’re facilitating your union and we take that responsibility very seriously. We know how to do this with grace, warmth, calmness and respect. We understand the importance of setting a tone and an atmosphere of reverence for the commitment you’re about to make. And if that isn’t enough, we’re here to offer you advice and options, ideas and elements to make your ceremony even more personal. We have resources for you to look at and choose from. We have experience to fall back on in case something goes awry. We are here for you in any way we can to help you have the best wedding ceremony imaginable!
MYTH #4: Anyone can be an officiant, it’s not that hard.
FACT #4: Being an officiant is wonderfully hard work! It requires that you have:
Experience working with large groups
Public speaking expertise
A sense of humor and a sense of reverence
Excellent writing skills
Ability to read a crowd
Exceptional organizational skills
An understanding of the importance of being grounded
Commitment to punctuality
Capacity to manage complicated family dynamics
Ability to create atmosphere and set a mood
Quick thinking skills in case something goes wrong
Talent for engaging audiences
…and more! This isn’t the right work for everyone and it takes a special person with just the right skills to bring a ceremony to life. I urge you to consider working with a professional wedding officiant for your wedding. You do not want to trust this significant moment in time to just anyone!
MYTH #5: There’s no training needed to become a professional officiant.
FACT #5: In order to become a Maine wedding officiant, you either have to be a notary public (like me), an ordained minister or licensed by a religious body, a judge, or a lawyer. All of these require training and education. This doesn’t even take into consideration ongoing training, workshops and professional development that all good professional officiants do. Myth debunked!
*There are all kinds of officiants here in Maine and not all of them work the same way I do. Do your research and ask the right questions to find the officiant that’s right for you.