Monday, May 31, 2010

Having a Friend Get Ordained and Officiate Your Wedding..........

Once again, I saw this article on Lyssabeth's Wedding Officiants blog and thought it might be of interest to my readers. I have been asked at the last minute or nearly the last minute by couples who have asked friends to get ordained online in order to officiate their wedding. Sometimes it is because the couple starts doubting the legality of doing this and worry about their marriage being "legal" and indeed, online ordinations in North Carolina are quite controversial. Other times the project of writing the ceremony becomes overwhelming and the friend either backs out or "gets sick." Once I was hired just to standby and do the pronouncement at the end and handle the license--which I did. When I asked to see the ceremony they and their friend had come up with, I was appalled and re-wrote the whole ceremony which the couple loved. They simply did not know what they were doing. On another occasion I ended up co-officiating with the friend after the couple and I wrote the ceremony and we alternated sections. That really was a lot of fun and he felt so much more at ease having me there with him. 

For a variety of reasons, many couples are turning away from church weddings in favor of nontraditional locations in which to hold their wedding ceremonies. Some couples desire to hold their wedding and reception in the same location. Others opt for outdoor ceremonies. Still others have no ties to organized religion and refuse to compromise those beliefs by marrying in a church. Brides and grooms with different religious upbringing and beliefs (e.g. He is Muslim, she is Christian) often opt for a non-church wedding simply to avoid having to harmonize their different religious philosophies. Oftentimes couples simply want to avoid church-mandated pre-marital counseling.

With more creative options for ceremony locations, it was inevitable that a similar rise in options for ceremony officiants would follow. Couple this with the current precipitous economy, and some brides and grooms are leaning toward asking a friend or family member to officiate at their wedding ceremony.

A good idea? Maybe. It depends on the personality and talents of the person you ask. Here are the pros and cons.


It’s a great way to be married by someone who knows you personally. A friend or family member can share stories about you as a couple from their firsthand experience and really make your ceremony unique.

It’s cost effective if the friend will perform the ceremony for free.

You’ll have free reign to put whatever you want into your ceremony.


Much can go wrong in the delivery of your wedding ceremony. Even those who are proficient speakers under different circumstances may become rattled at the everyday glitches that can crop up in a wedding ceremony. Consider how your friend will do if the groom becomes emotional, the bride flubs her vows, the flower girl is whining, the musicians play the wrong selection, inclement weather conditions suddenly arise for your outdoor wedding, your feuding divorced parents refuse to sit next to one another, the microphone dies mid-sentence, or someone faints. Handling these situations requires a special set of skills. Professional officiants have “been there, done that” with every situation above and more! (Amen!)

Unless one has had experience in writing a ceremony, putting one together can be time-consuming and a lot of work. Don’t expect to find much in the way of innovative ideas on the web without doing a ton of research. Most books deal with writing your own vows, but that is only one part of the ceremony.

Affordable does not mean free. Unless it is your friend’s wedding gift to you, expect to give them the courtesy of compensating them for their time in some manner, be it an outright payment, a gift card or a dinner out.

There is nothing binding to stop your friend from changing his or her mind as the big day approaches. This happens all the time as people get cold feet or egos start to conflict between the couple and the officiating friend. We receive calls all the time from couples looking for an officiant because their friend backed out at the 11th hour.

If your friend or family member is very close to you, consider the possibility that he or she will become overly emotional during the service.
Bottom line advice

Be sure you are 100% confident of your friend’s ability to handle a myriad of circumstances that can creep up on your big day. If you have any reservations at all, then bite the financial bullet and hire a professional.

Consider your own personality. If you and your honey are incredibly laid-back and okay with imperfections in your wedding ceremony, then by all means go for it. But if you are not so inclined, then consider the fact that having an inexperienced amateur facilitating your ceremony may be more stress than you can handle on such an emotion-packed day.

Start the process of writing your ceremony early–at least six months before the wedding date, so that there will be lots of time for research, practice and revisions.

Bear in mind that an online ordination is not recognized as sufficient to legally perform weddings in every state. You must check with your local County Clerk and Recorder to see if your state validates the legality of such ceremonies. In some instances, your aspiring officiant must also register with the county before performing a ceremony, which sometimes requires a fee.

Having a friend perform your wedding ceremony can be wonderfully warm, personal and fun. Just be sure you go into it with your eyes open to the potential pitfalls as well as the benefits. If you go this route, remember to choose your “volunteer” officiant with care, plan for contingencies, and practice, practice, practice until it all flows smoothly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

5 Top Tips for Selecting Your Wedding Officiant

This article was written by Rev. Annemarie Juhlian in Washington State. I have been following her blog for several years and really resonate with her as a colleague and fellow non-denominational minister. I echo what she has to say about choosing an officiant.

You've got so much planned for your wedding day - casual or formal, big or intimate - AND one of the last details left to deal with is finding and selecting a person to marry you!
If you are being married outside of a specific religious tradition or if you don't have a minister, rabbi, priest or layperson to officiate your ceremony, you will need to find an Officiant or Minister in the "outside world."
As a Non-Denominational Wedding Officiant/Minister, I have worked with hundreds of couples of all faiths and traditions to create and delivery personalized wedding ceremonies. Over the years, I have learned many things working intimately with engaged couples and with "tribes" on the wedding day.
I offer you these 5 Top Tips to Consider and Remember As You Interview And Select Your Officiant/Minister:
1) Is Your Officiant/Minister Passionate About What They Do? Creating and officiating a wedding ceremony is serious business. It also requires that a person be passionate, excited and at the same time humble about doing this work. As you interview Officiants, consider the "passion" factor. Is the Officiant excited about the possibility of working with you? Do they offer ideas and suggestions for your wedding ceremony during your initial conversation? Can you see this person relating to you and your Sweetheart and can you get a sense of how they will "be' in front of a group?
The last thing you want is a boring "blah, blah, blah" wedding ceremony. The goal is to find an Officiant/Minister who exhibits kindness, generosity and leadership ability.
2) Does The Officiant's Personality Resonate With You? There is not right way to "do" a ceremony. And there is no "wrong" way to do a ceremony. It's all about what you want/desire as a couple. I invite you to consider that an Officiant's personality is key to a robust and memorable wedding ceremony. You need to like each other and if the Officiant selects you and you select the Officiant, this is even better because you are setting the stage for a mini-friendship which makes the process of working together that much more fun and enjoyable.
3) Style of Work - How Will Your Ceremony Be Created/Crafted? Every Officiant works differently. Discuss with your Officiant how they create and deliver a ceremony. Will your ceremony be custom written? Will you be asked to select from sample ceremonies? What is the level of personalization and customization involved?
4) References ~ The best Officiants put references on their websites with the first and last name of a couple. There are also wedding reviews sites that provide additional reviews and recommendations. Don't hire an Officiant without reading and/or checking out references. (I prefer to protect the privacy of my couples and therefore do not publish their last names on my website or on my blog. I am happy to furnish references if someone wants to contact one of my couples. There are also 30 something reviews of me on that couples can read.)
5) The Contract Factor ~ As you make your final decision, insure that you have a written agreement and/or contract with your Officiant. You want all terms and items of understanding to be outlined in your agreement including fee for services, attendance at rehearsal, time of wedding ceremony and services provided to you.
Annemarie Juhlian is a Wedding Officiant, Minister & Celebrant in Seattle, Washington. She creates personalized wedding ceremonies for couples of all faiths and traditions. Take a peak at Annemarie: or call 425. 922.1325

Caitlin and Chris' Wedding at the Angus Barn Wine Cellar!

Caitlin and Chris put their wedding together quite efficiently and in a very short time. They chose the warm and cozy setting of the Angus Barn Wine Cellar for their intimate family wedding on Sunday evening May 23, 2010. I have done another wedding there and it is so much fun to be led by the Maître d' through the kitchen where the cooks and waiters always welcome you and speak to you like you are an old friend and then down into the chilly and dimly lit wine cellar then entering the beautifully appointed dining room with its own wait staff there to cater to your every whim. What a treat!
Here is the view from one end of the huge table looking toward the area where we will stand for the ceremony.
  And here is the view from the other end.
Here is Chris, our Maître d', (although I am not sure that is his real title but that is what I am choosing to call him!).
Isn't this an adorable little wedding cake? It is just right for this size wedding and so pretty too. It was made by the Once in a Blue Moon Bakery
Here are the happy bride and groom before the wedding. We are meeting face to face for the first time as we made all the arrangements via email and USPS. 
And so the ceremony begins. Chris was so serious but Caitlin was beaming. They met 5 years ago when they were both students in college. Caitlin at Meredith and Chris at NCSU. And, they are quite determined individuals having each earned two degrees during this courtship. They launched their careers and then last November found out that they were happily expecting a little girl in July. So, we included a blessing for the unborn baby in the wedding ceremony and may do another baby blessing ceremony after she is born. 
Here's the pronouncement followed by the kiss which I don't have a photo of!
Presentation of the new Mr. and Mrs. to their applauding families.
I received this sweet note from Caitlin two days later: 

"Thank you so much for officiating our wedding ceremony on Sunday night.  Not only did we love our ceremony and feel that it embodied our personalities and story perfectly, but our families loved it.  I of course didn't have a watch on, but I hear you not only made it there by 6, but you were early!  And since I know you had others before me, and let's face it...quite possibly weather delays, I truly appreciate it!

My grandparents down to my young cousins were thrilled with the ceremony you put together (that is no small accomplishment).  Chris and I loved it, and it was exactly the way I had envisioned it. Please know how much we appreciate you helping us create this beautiful ceremony and making it unique to us.  I have friends/coworkers who were married by you, and referred me to you, and I will certainly have your name in my back pocket for anyone getting married in the future!
Thank you so very much! Caitlin"

Caitlin and Chris, I wish you a wonderful marriage and family life and with your ability to accomplish all you have so far in your lives, I know you will succeed! I look forward to receiving a birth announcement in a couple of months from you too!

Honorable Mention...

Sarah Jessica Parker has been wearing these Nicholas Kirkwood shoes all over the place promoting Sex and the City 2, and I can see why. They're beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Last time I thought pink and blue looked well together was when I was a little girl, I guess I'll have to rethink that.
 Adding these beauties to my already infinite dream wish list...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Janice and Luke Dodged the Rain for their Wonderful Wedding at Duke Gardens Pergola!

In October of 2001 I married Jennifer and Ted at Duke Gardens. Almost 9 years later on May 23, 2010, I married Jennifer's sister, Janice, and her fiance, Luke, at Duke Gardens. It was a family affair! Janice contacted me in June of 2009 and told me she wanted me to officiate. We handled everything through the mail and email then started on their ceremony without ever meeting. Of course I had met Janice back in 2001 at her sister's wedding but did not meet Luke until the rehearsal. Jennifer was her sister's Matron of Honor and Ted was Luke's Best Man and it was spectacular to see them again since I had not seen them since their wedding and found out they have two adorable children, Reagan and Parker, whom I got to meet at this wedding!
They also told me that the violinist on the left, Galen Tim, whose string trio was playing for Janice's wedding, was the ring bearer in their wedding in 2001~ small world! Obviously in 9 years he has grown in to a very talented young man. His group is called Melos String Ensemble.  The other two musicians are Daniel Boney and Steve Chung. They played wonderfully!
This is Jennifer being cued in by Christine, cousin of the bride, who was drafted to serve as our wedding director as well as be a reader. She did a fantastic job as both! Thanks, Christine! 
Melissa Kay of Melissa Kay Photography was our wedding photographer. I thought this was a great shot of her and the wedding party waiting for the bride's entrance! Go see this wedding on Melissa's blog here.
 Janice was escorted in by her mother, Gloria. Isn't Janice's wedding gown stunning?
When Janice appeared on the steps from the lower level, Luke stepped down to the bottom of the pergola steps to meet her and Gloria.
Gloria transfers Janice's hand into Luke's and mother and daughter kiss a symbolic good bye.
Christina read "Marriage Means Being In Love for the Rest of Your Life" by Chris Ardis. Then I read from First Corinthians Chapter 13. We paid tribute to the parents and remembered those who could not be with us this day. We also included the story of how Luke and Janice met and fell in love (funny story), moved from Ohio to North Carolina and are starting a new chapter in their lives.
Janice is saying her vows to Luke while placing the ring on his finger.
Time for the big pronouncement of marriage followed by the ...............
And now they are Mr. and Mrs. at last! Everyone is applauding as they make their way down the steps. 
And out they go so happily married to start their new life together as husband and wife. It is a thrilling moment! 
After the guests have departed to the Doris Duke Reception Center for the reception, we return to the pergola to take some pictures. Luke and Janice, what a great couple you are.........I wish you all the best in the world!

This is the reception setting before the wedding. The bride and her sister and bridesmaids were hanging out here staying cool. Fresh Affairs did these beautiful floral arrangements. 
I thought this was a most beautiful and unusual presentation of a cupcake wedding cake and top layer. Sugarland Bakery did a great job. Triangle Catering was doing the food which I know was delicious as always.

Another Lovely Ballroom Wedding

Be sure to scroll all the way through the photos to the one at the very end. We love to have a bit of fun here at the Hawthorne Hotel, even when we are working on a lovely wedding. Then at the very end there is a brief video so you can see the light show on the ceiling, that was part of what the DJ supplied for this wedding.

Flowers by Peter Barter Florist

Cake by Montilio's

Sweetheart table glows with the special lighting for this event.

Britony Wells and Liz Dube, Wedding Coordinators of the Hawthorne Hotel share a light moment just before the guests arrived in the Ballroom.
I hope to see you here,

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sudden Downpour Forces Jon and Rose's Wedding Inside at the Carolina Inn!

Well, I did two weddings at Duke Gardens earlier this day and we avoided the rain. But, about 15 minutes before the guests were to be seated in the Bryan Courtyard for Rose and Jon's wedding, the sky grew very dark very quickly, the wind whipped up ferociously and then the big raindrops began to pelt the ground. This is how the wedding setting looked before the storm. Greg Ramsey quickly moved his DJ equipment indoors!
We were so grateful that this did not happen mid-ceremony! As usual, Ashleigh Collins at the Carolina Inn had already foreseen this possibility and had the Alumni Room all set up and ready to go for the ceremony. So, in the end, it was no big deal and we had a wonderful wedding despite the weather.

Rose and Jon live in New York City. They hired me last summer to officiate their wedding day on May 22, 2010, and then when they were in North Carolina last September, we met for the first time. They are such a fun and delightful couple. I loved hearing the story of how they met and fell in love. They had gone to elementary school together then to separate high schools but their paths crossed again when they were both students at UNC and the chemistry was undeniable and many memories were made in Chapel Hill. Hence, their wedding at the Carolina Inn. With the help of their event planner, Melanie, they put together an impressive team of vendors and I am proud to have been in such great company.
Despite the rain, we did start the ceremony right on time. After the guests got seated, the grandmothers then the parents were escorted in. Then it was time for Jon, Mike (his brother and best man) and I to enter followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. That is Mike in the background right, and Melanie in the background left, cueing us all in.
Then it was time for the bride! Rose, being the independent woman that she is, wanted to enter solo and not be escorted down the aisle by anyone. But we had a surprise for the guests and the wedding party! After she entered and started down the aisle, Jon began walking toward her from the front, met her in the middle of all their guests who were standing, knelt down on one knee in front of her--don't know what he said, I forgot to ask him!--then together they walked down the rest of the aisle to the front. I asked the guests to be seated and we began.
Everyone enjoyed the ceremony so much, especially when I told their "story" of how they met, fell in love, how Jon proposed, what they have been up to and their plans for their future. We honored their parents. They made their vows to each other which they had written with a bit of humor thrown in, and then exchanged rings. I made the pronouncement of marriage.
The big KISS moment!
And out they went to the tune of "All We Need is Love" by the Beatles.
I met up with them afterward outdoors under the drive through portico. It had stopped raining! They were jubilant and so happy! Jon and Rose, my best wishes and congratulations to you both. You are remarkable people and I know you will have a great marriage and bright future together. Please stay in touch.

Our Vendors

The Carolina Inn, one of the most prestigious places to get married in NC and so well equipped to handle multiple weddings and rain plans! Thanks, Ashleigh and your staff! 

Melanie Ingool with Kate Foster Productions kept us well organized and had everything under control so that this wedding, despite the rain, flowed smoothly without a hitch. Thanks, Melanie! 

Greg Ramsey, with Joe Bunn DJ Company, did a superb job of handling the music for both the ceremony and the reception.  Thanks, Greg! 

Our photographer was Jason with Azul Photography. A very talented young man who was everywhere at once and I know got some great photos for Jon and Rose. It was a pleasure working with him. 

Donna Ford's Sweet Memories Bakery furnished the stunning flower-studded cake and Lyn Grave's Fresh Affairs did all the beautiful flowers. In fact, Fresh Affairs did the flowers for three weddings that I did this weekend.