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.Read More
Ben + Jordan
Where do we even start!?! If you haven't contacted Maria to officiate your wedding day please do yourself a favor and reach out to her NOW! You will not regret it! From the first FaceTime chat with Maria to the day of our ceremony (16 days later) Maria gave us the tools to help her create the most beautiful and personal elopement ceremony. Her warmth, joy, excitement, love for her job and love for standing with couples as they state their vows to one another is infectious. Her attitude made us more excited to plan our perfect day! Maria is so laid back and SO much fun to be around! She didn't blink an eye when we informed her that we wanted her to create a personalized ceremony for us in just 16 short days. No, she was up and excited for the challenge! It was exactly what we were hoping our officiant would be and more! After the first time we talked, we felt she really got us and our relationship and because of this we decided for her to surprise us by not sending our marriage address to us to review before our elopement. This ended up being our favorite part of the ceremony! Maria, thank you again for everything. We cannot stop reliving the entire day (especially the ceremony)! Thank you for being such a HUGE part of It, we couldn't imagine becoming husband and wife without you and your support. The ceremony was more amazing and perfect than we could ever imagine!
-Nadine + Brady, Wolfe's Neck State Park Elopement
I'm so fortunate to be part of the Maine wedding community and specifically the Maine wedding officiant community. We are a diverse group providing a wide range of services. Whenever one of us is booked we try to refer that couple to another officiant. In that spirit, I've put together a list of Maine wedding officiants I know and trust. I will say this, though, I have never seen these officiants actually perform a ceremony and for the most part I'm don't know their process for working with their clients. These are folks I know personally and really like (or come highly recommended by other vendors I trust), which is what my recommendation is based on.
The best Maine wedding officiants
Rev. Erika Hewitt Erika
Swoon Union Michelle
Gateway Celebrations Vivianna
A Sweet Start (that's me!)
Rev. Twinkle Marie Manning Moosehead Lake Region
Why I'm recommending my competitors
I know you might think I'm crazy putting together a list of my "competitors" on my blog, but it makes sense when you understand how strongly I believe in you finding the right officiant. I know that I'm the right officiant for some people and not for others. And that's totally ok. I'd rather help you find the right officiant for your wedding than try to convince you with some icky sales pitch to hire me. It's so important that the person who stands up there with you on wedding day is someone you feel comfortable with, who you genuinely like and who deserves and has earned your trust. Take your time finding the right person, do your homework and meet with your top choice. A good officiant and a beautifully crafted ceremony will set the tone for your wedding day so make your selection carefully!
Good luck and happy wedding!
These were questions posed to me for an interview I did with another wedding professional. I'll post a link to that interview when it goes live, but in the meantime, enjoy the answers to these questions. I hope it helps you get to know me and my unique process a little better.
Tell us a little bit about yourself as an individual.
I’m originally from New Hampshire and moved to Maine in 2007 (by way of Utah, California and British Columbia). I’ve always been a “people person” and have worked in hospitality, retail, and nonprofits for years. I have three adorable kitties and consider myself a crazy cat lady. My cats even have their own Instagram account! My husband and I moved to Bath (from Damariscotta) in 2014 into a sweet little cape on the New Meadows River. I love Maine so much! I love Maine almost as much as I love weddings!
How and when did A Sweet Start begin?
I've got married in 2006, which is what started my career in the wedding industry. After planning my own wedding I just knew I wanted to work in weddings. I wasn’t really sure what that would look like, so I just kept it in the back of my mind for a couple of years. When I took the certification course to become a notary public, it was like the planets were finally aligned! The instructor explained during the course that, in Maine, notaries are authorized to perform wedding ceremonies. I’m now going into my fifth season!
What would you say is your main responsibility as an officiant?
My main responsibility is to help my clients mark this significant moment in their lives with a heartfelt ceremony that reflects the couple, their personalities, and their love. I do this by guiding them through the process of envisioning the ceremony from start to finish. Many of my couples know they want a unique ceremony that reflects their relationship, but they don’t always know how to go about it. That’s where my experience is really important. I can help them pull in readings or songs or other interjections that are meaningful to them. I can guide them through the process of writing their own vows. I can offer them advice on music, the flow, the pairing of attendants. All of that. And finally, my responsibility is to manage the entire ceremony on wedding day so that they can let go, relax, and be totally present in the moment.
Can you take us through the typical process for creating a couple’s ceremony?
Sure! The process of creating a completely unique and totally customized Super Sweet Wedding Ceremony requires collaboration from the couple. It starts about three months in advance of their wedding. I send them a link to a Dropbox folder filled with all kinds of goodies: sample ceremonies, readings, elements to add into the ceremony, and other information to help them start picturing their ceremony. I ask them to pick out the bits of pieces from the sample ceremonies they like (maybe the introduction from this one, or the ring exchange from that one). I also email each of them a list of questions to help them reflect upon their relationship. Questions like why are they choosing to marry each other, what does marriage mean to them, the qualities they find endearing in each other, and a few other questions. I weave their responses into the ceremony to make it completely custom and really personalized. I’ll write a completely unique ceremony for each couple so no two are ever alike.
We’ll go back and forth with the ceremony until it’s perfect. I like to have the final copy a month before wedding day, because that’s when we meet again to start planning the rehearsal.
By using this process, there’s a genuine warmth that comes from our working on this ceremony for a few months, and it feels like I’ve known them for years. I’m talking about their love and their marriage and their relationship but using their own words. It’s really magical and meaningful.
Which of your packages are the most popular?
I have three packages (Super Sweet Wedding, Sweet + Simple Wedding, and Sweet Wedding Elopement) and my Super Sweet Wedding is the most popular. It includes a fully customized ceremony, unlimited guest list, and unlimited attendants. All my weddings, except the elopements, include a rehearsal.
Can people specify ceremony details such as music, readings, and vows?
Absolutely! I actively encourage it! This is their ceremony so I want it to be a reflection of who they are. All of the things you just mentioned (music, readings, vows) are a great way to personalize a ceremony. I have samples and blog posts with inspiration and ideas, so I’m all about encouraging them to add in these kinds of elements.
How long does your average ceremony last?
It all depends on the couple, but I really encourage my couples to not make it too short. I think anything less than 20 minutes is too short. You just don’t get enough time to digest what’s happening. It goes so fast anyway, it’s nice to slow it down a bit. Add in some elements. Add in some other voices. Let there be a nice flow to it so it’s not just me talking for 10 minutes and then it’s over. Like I said, this is a pivotal moment in their lives and it’s worth savoring. That being said, I also think a really long ceremony can loose its significance. If there are too many readings or songs or interjections, it’s hard to make each one meaningful. I think the sweet spot, including processional, is about 30 minutes.
There’s a trend right now to have a wicked short ceremony and then just have a great party. While I’m all for fun parties, I try to remind my couples that the ceremony is what really matters. Pledging your love and devotion to one another in front of all the most important people in your life is what matters. I wrote a blog post about ideal ceremony length!
Do you take care of the marriage license?
Absolutely! As a notary that’s my responsibility. The couple is responsible for getting the license from the city, but I get it at the rehearsal and am responsible for it until I deliver it to the town office after the wedding. I also advise my couples on how to get married in Maine; how file the intention to marry document at the town office; and how to obtain the marriage license after the ceremony.
How far are you willing to travel?
How far in advance should clients contact you?
They should contact me as far in advance as possible, because I take a limited number of weddings and book up each summer. But I’ve taken weddings (based on my availability of course) as close as three or four months before. In order to have time to go through the customization process they need to book me at least three months in advance. Anything less than that and I’m not going to be able to offer them a fully customized ceremony. For elopements they can contact me the day before, so that’s a different process.
How many weddings do you perform per year?
From 2011 to 2015 I was only taking 10 weddings a summer since I was still working a full time job. Now that I’m fully self-employed, I take 20 weddings a year. I limit the number of weddings I take to one per weekend. My entire being – heart and soul – is involved in each wedding I take, and I find that one a weekend works the best for me. You can read all about how I prepare for each wedding.
Do you recommend other wedding vendors?
Definitely! I love doing this (if the couple doesn't have a wedding planner). I now know so many talented wedding vendors I can even make personalized recommendations to my clients. For example, if they tell me a particular style of photography they like, I can give them names of a few photographers with a similar style. Our industry thrives on vendor-to-vendor referrals, so I’m always happy when my couples ask for recommendations.
What is your biggest challenge when officiating a wedding?
My biggest challenge is making sure the site coordinator or wedding planner understands that I work with my couples on every detail of the ceremony from pre-processional to recessional, and because of that I organize and manage the rehearsal. I now know that a lot of officiants don’t do this, but I love it and it’s one of the services I provide my clients. I always appreciate the support of the planner or coordinator and having them there makes everything run more smoothly on wedding day. But asking for their trust while I run the rehearsal is sometimes my biggest challenge.
What is most rewarding for you/what has been your proudest accomplishment?
Bringing an idea of a business from imagination into reality. Creating and growing a successful business is definitely my greatest accomplishment. Working with creative, interesting and engaged clients and collaborating with them to craft wedding ceremonies that have meaning and will be remembered for years to come, that’s rewarding!
What one tip would you offer for a successful ceremony?
Make it all about YOU! Find ways to personalize your ceremony to make it meaningful and engaging. Sure, do the research to see what’s out there, but always come back to the question “Does this reflect who we are?” If the answer is no, keep working at it.
And remember, your wedding ceremony is a magical moment that marks a major shift if your life. Make sure you find an officiant you connect with and one who can hold the gravity and significance of that moment with a joyous heart!
How do clients find you and stay connected with you? Do you advertise, attend bridal shows, or use social media?
I love social media! I’m on all the big platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. I write a blog with advice and inspiration. I send out a monthly email newsletter with all sorts of great information. I’m also listed in a bunch of wedding directories. But I don’t really attend wedding shows. I find that my clients are mostly active online so I make myself available through electronic means. I’ve totally embraced digital media and use it to communicate who I am and what makes me awesome to work with!
When working with my clients, the wedding ceremony length all depends on the couple, but I really encourage them not to make it too short. There’s a trend right now to have a wicked short ceremony, sort of just "get it over with" and then have a great party. While I’m all for fun parties, I try to remind my couples that the ceremony is what really matters. Pledging your love and devotion to one another in front of all the most important people in your lives is what matters.
I think a Super Sweet Wedding ceremony that is less than 20 minutes is too short. You just don’t get enough time to digest what’s happening. It goes so fast anyway, it’s nice to slow it down a bit. Add in some elements. Add in some other voices. Let there be a nice flow to it so it’s not just your officiant talking for 10 minutes and then it’s over. This is a significant moment in your lives and it’s worth savoring.
This is a significant moment in your lives and it’s worth savoring.
That being said, I also think really long ceremonies can loose their significance. If there are too many readings or songs or interjections, it’s hard to make each one meaningful. Or if the officiant drags on too long, your guests can loose interest, heck, you and your sweetie can loose interest. And that's not good. We want you and your guests to be engaged, to be present and to be able to reflect upon what's happening as it's happening. A ceremony that is either too short or too long will loose its meaning.
I think the sweet spot is a 25 -30 minute wedding ceremony, including the processional. What do you think? How long will your ceremony be?
I'm funny...looking! Hahaha! But seriously, I try to have a good sense of humor.
I love weddings! Everyone says that, but I, like, really, really love weddings!
I believe in true love.
I'm super punctual. Sometimes if I'm just on time I feel late.
I believe that love is love so I strongly support same-sex marriage and have experience working with LGBTQ couples.
I bring a calming energy to your wedding day.
I am tech savvy and can adapt to the way you want to communicate.
I am 100% invested in you and your ceremony.
I intentionally perform each ceremony like it's the first one I've ever done.
I meditate before your wedding.
I'm wicked organized.
In the car, on the way to your wedding, I do voice exercises and sing "Doe, A Deer a Female Deer" and "C-O-F-F-E-E" (do you know that one?).
I know hundreds of wedding vendors and love making referrals., if you’re not already working with a wedding planner.
I write an awesome blog to help you plan your wedding.
I try to create a fun atmosphere at your rehearsal (it's part of the festivities after all).
I take responsibility for all the details of your ceremony so you can let go and be present.
I am passionate about the work I do.
I record myself reading your ceremony and listen to it multiple times the week leading up to your wedding.
I'm married and know what it feels like to plan and execute a wedding (and what it takes to be married).
I spend time getting to know you so there's a warm connection between us on wedding day!
Photos above of my husband and me by Erin Little Photography.
my new favorite trend in weddings right now is single layer also known as one tier wedding cakes. i love the simplicity of them. they're festive but not overly fancy. for some couples a wedding cake like this would represent them perfectly. i started a new pinterest board just for single layer wedding cakes and here are a few images from that board.
what do you think about this trend? would a one tier wedding cake represent you and your sweetie? or is it "the higher the better" when it comes to your wedding cake approach?