With so much happening on your wedding day, everyone can agree that your ceremony is the focal point; do not leave it in the hands of someone you hired only weeks beforehand. You and your soon-to-be spouse should take time to choose whoever will officiate your ceremony. Manon Galloway Weber of Happy Feet Weddings, llc has plenty of great advice for couples who haven’t hired an officiant yet. Take a few minutes to read her interview, it will definitely provide insight for your officiant search.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I am a licensed and ordained Chaplain, Pastor, and Minister. I have been performing weddings for 20 years, most of that time in Colorado. I came to Wisconsin to be close to family and to retire, but found after a few months I missed performing weddings. I really enjoy what I do, so am building a business again. Twenty years ago in Colorado, no one performed weddings outside of the church. I began telling people about how fun outdoor weddings were. I eventually found myself doing 250 weddings a year. I had a small chapel right across the street from where couples would get their marriage license. Although I do not want to be that busy now, I am getting into the swing of things here in the Northland.
How did you get into officiating?
My daughter had a friend who was pregnant and wanted to get married, but 20 years ago nobody would marry her. I said I would! I put together a ceremony, went to their location and had a wonderful time. Money was short so the wedding was a pot luck with friends and family. As I was leaving someone put money in my hand, “Hey” I said to myself, “I can do this and it is fun!”
What are the most unique ceremonies you have officiated?
One ceremony we went up in a hot air balloon. Another ceremony was on a river in a raft. I also have done many weddings on horseback. The prettiest ceremonies were under my willow tree.
The ceremony should fit your lifestyle and you should have freedom to add things that make this day special for the two of you.
How far in advance do couples typically hire you?
All too often couples put off finding their wedding officiant until the end of the planning process. It is important to take into consideration the importance of this role in your wedding day. Your pastor, minister or officiant is the person who will stand and unite the two of you together in matrimony. It is this person who helps with your vows, signs your marriage license to make your marriage legal, and can help to include children in a blended family ceremony. Although a justice of the peace can provide you with a simple ceremony, they are more than likely to be less personal. Find an individual who will take the time to meet with you and get to know who you are to customize your ceremony prior to your wedding. Your wedding officiant can and should be an integral part of planning from the early stages.
What are the most common mistakes you see couples make when planning their wedding?
A wedding officiant can make or break your ceremony. An uncaring or unprofessional officiant can sometimes spoil the whole day. Even so, when it comes to finding an officiant most couples make the mistake of simply focusing on two things:
– Are you available on our date?
– How much is your fee?
When hiring an officiant, what are a few things couples should look for?
To avoid the common mistakes I listed above, I would like to suggest an approach to choosing an officiant. Spend some time talking with your prospective officiant. Does he/she sound nice- easy to work with? Does he/she have a pleasant speaking voice? Is the officiant focused on pleasing you, or will you be expected to “do as you’re told?” Does the officiant have any objections to your location, music plans, plans for pictures, video, etc? What experience does this person have, and can you get references? Some officiants are basically traditional Christian ministers – others, like myself, are interfaith ministers that perform the ceremony of your choosing. It’s not a matter of one being better than the other – but only of matching where you’re coming from with your officiant’s style and the ceremony offered. How many weddings are they doing in one day? Do they have a backup if something happens? The ceremony should fit your lifestyle and you should have freedom to add things that make this day special for the two of you. I know that it is an additional expense to have your officiant at your rehearsal, but it is so important. When everyone knows what they are to do for your special day the ceremony goes very smoothly.