We hear this question often. While we may only be in front of your guests for 20 – 25 minutes I would like to help you understand what is involved in making your ceremony the foundation on which you are building your marriage and sets the tone for your wedding day.
While you are right, the officiant will be performing the ceremony for about 15-25 minutes, you want to be sure that the only legally required portion of your wedding day is done by someone who is legal in North Carolina and understands the legal ramifications of what they are doing for you. In addition to the legal aspects of the ceremony, you want your officiant to also know and understand the traditions involved in a wedding day. This will help you make decisions on what you want to include as well as what you do not want. A professional officiant will also understand the importance of the flow of the ceremony, why certain elements come before others.
Depending on how couple centered you want your ceremony and how much customization you include there are many more hours involved. A competent, experienced professional officiant will spend time with the two of you getting to know your beliefs, interests and love. Then they will spend several hours writing the ceremony that your guests will remember for years to come and will remind you on your wedding day of why you are getting married. Your officiant must know, understand and appreciate any cultural or faith traditions you want to include so that they are appropriate for the ceremony. Placement of certain elements can make a huge difference in the flow and feel of the ceremony. It is also important that any cultural traditions are authentic and do not misrepresent the culture or faith. Once they complete the ceremony it is then submitted to you for editing and approval. Another meeting or rehearsal is often needed to help make the ceremony flow smoothly as everyone needs to know what part they play in this major event.
A professional officiant will be available via email or phone to answer any and all questions you have about getting your marriage license, how to do a legal name change, and otherwise providing information and calming your nerves during the wedding planning process. A professional officiant must be able to write in a way that truly represents you, “speaking for you”. This means they must be able to change to suit each couple. This is not something that comes naturally for many people.
They will arrive up to an hour prior to the start of the ceremony to make certain that everything is in place and ready for your ceremony. They will work with all the other professionals and vendors to make sure that each person knows what is needed and how together they can make your wedding day go without a hitch.
A professional officiant will know how to project their voice, if something goes wrong with a sound system. They will also know how to react in the event of an emergency. So, what can go wrong in a 20-minute ceremony you ask? Well, in our experience a bride passed out, an 70 year old best man passed out, several brides maids have passed out, a venue lost all power during a storm, a hurricane forced changes to location, a groom had a major anxiety attack that set off his IBS, rain that was not predicted moved in as the ceremony started, children acted up, dogs who were part of the ceremony yelped and barked, children refused to participate as had been planned, and other unexpected events. Will someone who is not trained and experienced know what to do in such circumstances?
Once the ceremony is complete, they will make certain your marriage license is properly completed and submitted to the Register of Deeds for you (as required by state law). As you can see, that 15-minute ceremony can actually involve anywhere from 20-40 hours of work on the part of the officiant behind the scenes to make your wedding day exactly what you want it to be.
We totally understand budget constraints when planning a wedding. Shortchanging the one portion of your wedding day that is legally binding may not be the place to save money. It is important to remember you get what you pay for!
I hope this helps explain the need for an officiant to charge a fee that truly covers their time working for you to provide you with a beautifully crafted, legal ceremony, rather than simply showing up and filling in blanks in a boring template ceremony which your guests will quickly forget.
Give us a call to discuss your ceremony! 336-937-0890