Photo taken at The Columbia Club
by Summerly Photography
by Summerly Photography
When I meet with a couple for the first time I have a list of questions I ask. Usually, the first question I ask is if you have any any questions for me? I've found that often couples don't even know where to begin with questions so I go through all of my questions, with explanations. By the time we're done, you are pretty well educated on the wedding ceremony process.
Here is my current list of questions - I have explanations of why I ask them down below. I am a wedding officiant that is open to everyone. I marry any couple any way they want to be married. I don't judge your answers!! I want to get a better understanding of who you are and how I can best address your wants and needs. Your wedding ceremony is often very different from your reception and party. I'm open equally to atheists and religious couples but the conversation is going to be different in many ways. I've tried to list these questions in some list of importance but it's almost impossible to do so. I usually go through the list at some point in our meeting and make sure we have addressed everything.
What is the date, time and location of your wedding?
This is actually the first question I would ask. We would have already discussed this to make sure I'm available. I do clarify it from time to time, depending on your wedding. Small weddings can change easily.
How did you meet meet?
Tell me about your relationship.
What do you do together?
I do not care if you met on a pick-up app. Many couples meet online!! Knowing more about who each of you are and how you relate to each other get my mind moving in the direction of the best ceremony options for you and how we may be able to incorporate your story into your ceremony and if you even want that. It will also see if we are a good fit for each other. Don't feel bad if we aren't. You need to find the officiant that is right for you.
Why did you choose your venue?
There is an almost endless list of places to get married. If you say you chose your venue because they take care of everything from start to finish you may want me to do that too. If it's the same place your grandparents got married that changes the dynamic. If you say you fell head over heels in love with the venue the moment you walked in that says something completely different!! If you say it's because it was super-cheap and you are on a budget I will discuss everything that I have to offer you that's within your budget.
How many guests do you expect at your wedding?
This changes the dynamic of your wedding ceremony. Intimate weddings of 50 are much different from a guest list of 150 or more.
Will there be children in attendance?
Some ceremonies can be more family friendly than others. I will want to make sure that if there are children in attendance that they will be properly attended to. If you are having kids at your wedding and are OK with them running around and having fun. I'm OK with that too! I just want to make sure we are on the same page. If you have autistic children or adults that are unpredictable with their behavior I'm OK with that too. (I'm MORE than OK with that!!)
What type of ceremony do you want?
Religious, non-religious, something in the middle?
This is a hotspot with a lot of weddings. There is no right or wrong answer. I just want to understand what you are looking for and be honest with what I can and cannot provide for you. The majority of marriages I perform are non-religious. But I became a wedding officiant so couples can get married any way they like.
Parents want religious ceremonies, you don't. You might want something in between. In regards to formal ceremonies, that's often a basically non-religious ceremony with a short prayer or blessing. I perform a lot of Catholic-lite ceremonies. Jewish-multifaith ceremonies as well!
If you say non-religious - I'm going to ask if you are atheist - because with some couples, there's a difference. Secular Humanism is a choice and there are some more appropriate ceremony options. My basic non-religious ceremonies usually work for just about everyone - we usually add spiritual aspects to them if a couple chooses.
Your wedding is about you, your relationship and your love for each other.
If you say you want a Christian ceremony I'm going to ask what you mean by a Christian ceremony and why you are seeking a wedding officiant instead of your own pastor? Often the answers are because it's a second marriage and your pastor won't perform a second marriage. Maybe you are looking for a permanent church home but haven't found one yet and don't want to make a quick decision just to have a pastor to marry you. I have a strong Christian background but I'm not going to give a sermon and I don't feel comfortable with administering communion.
I perform several handfasting every year but I'm not a pagan or a witch. We often incorporate handfasting into more traditional wedding ceremonies. Every now and then a couple will want a traditional pagan handfasting ceremony and I'm happy to do that that but I'm going to want to know if this is c0splay for you or there is more meaning behind the ceremony.
Do you have a theme?
If you have a theme, sometimes your theme may work into your ceremony and sometimes it doesn't. It's fun to explore your options!
How many people are in your wedding party?
The difference between 4 and 14 will let me know what your realistic needs are for a rehearsal.
Will there be children in your wedding party?
Anything children in your wedding party do is perfect - just make sure it's perfect for you. Is there someone available to take care of the children? Do you have realistic expectations?
Is there anything atypical about your wedding party? Man of honor or best woman?
Men of Honor and Best Women are very popular and people who are trans are becoming more common. I want to understand the general dynamics of your wedding ceremony. Every now and then there will be possibilities of drama. I want to help in any way I can to make your ceremony about you and not other people's drama. You may not be able to not invite your transphobic grandma but I want to be able to address her appropriately if it come up.
Will you be drunk at your wedding ceremony?
I usually expect you to have had a few drinks while you are getting ready for your ceremony. Mimosa's or beers, maybe a shot of whisky. If you are going to be happy drunks I'm totally OK with that. I just want to know what I'm working with! If you are going to be drunk we will steer away from a religious ceremony and go more towards a lighthearted - fun wedding ceremony!!! More weddings are starting with cocktails before the ceremony. I think it's a great option for a non-religious ceremony. You have happy guests and the dynamic is less stressful.
Who will escort the bride/groom down the aisle?
Do you want to be given away or presented in marriage?
Maybe you want to walk down the aisle alone? Your father, your stepfather - or both! Your mom can walk you down the aisle. Your mother and your father. Your children can be a great option. We've had foster parents escort a groom down the aisle. It's not uncommon to have both parents walk both the bride and groom down the aisle. It's a Jewish tradition.
It's totally OK for your father to walk you down the aisle and for him to give you away. We know, you know, and your father knows that he does not own you. This is a very sweet and timeless tradition. But if you prefer "Who presents this woman in marriage?" It's totally OK too. It's become more common to leave this part out all together. We have been adding a more inclusive options where we ask both the bride's parents and the groom's parents if we have their blessing for the marriage.
Do you want to write your own vows?
Do you want to repeat after me with the vows or just say "I do."
Legally, some sort of "I do" needs to be said. Other than that, anything goes. You may want to write your own vows and not share them in front of everyone. We can discuss the many options.
Do you want a Unity Ceremony?
Just the two of you or include others?
There are many options for unity ceremonies and they are also not a requirement. If it's not fun or meaningful to you, leave it out.
Will you have Readers or Performers?
You might want someone to share a reading. We'll discuss options. You might have a friend that sings or maybe your kids have a band and they want to play a song.
Will you have a DJ, musicians or will someone be playing from a playlist?
If you are getting married at Valle Vista they will have a person playing from a playlist - I also know they provide me with a lavalier microphone. Your DJ might only have a handheld microphone. You may be having a wedding in a place where I don't need a microphone. That helps me to prepare. If I know I'm going to have a handheld microphone without a stand I won't print out the ceremony - I'll read it from my tablet. It's easier.
Is there anything you must have in your ceremony?
I won't know if you don't tell me and I don't want you do be afraid to ask. Your options are limitless!!
Is there anything you definitely do not want in your ceremony?
The most epic answer to date is "don't mention God or Trump." Don't worry, you would have to ask me to include either!!
Are there any special needs I should be aware of?
Maybe you have anxiety? I will do my best to take the pressure off of you. Maybe you have guests with special needs? I have two children on the autism spectrum. I very open to any special needs and will bend over backward to accommodate.
Are your parents still married? Remarried? Do they get along?
This may or may not be a tricky situation. I want to make sure I don't hurt anyone's feelings by accident. If your mom and dad need to be as far apart from each other as possible and your step mother is a trophy wife and it's a problem.... Let me know! Generally, there are possibilities of things that may go wrong but most people pull it together for your wedding and there are no problems. I do want to make sure I don't make assumptions at the rehearsal.
Are you grandparents still living? Will they be in attendance?
This can be emotionally difficult for some couples and their families. This also leaves options open for the rehearsal that need to be answered.
Do you want to remember anyone during your ceremony?
Do you want a moment of silence?
Usually, we have a brief moment of silence acknowledging those who couldn't make it to the wedding or who are no longer with us. It's a blanket statement. Sometimes, we name people. Sometimes we leave this out. It depends on the situation. We don't want to stir up unhappy feelings on a happy day, but we also want to be respectful.
Will you have a day of event coordinator, wedding planner or someone organizing your rehearsal?
This helps me to assess what you will need from me more accurately. Some venues are all inclusive and take care of everything - including your rehearsal and making sure everyone gets down the aisle and that you have the perfect grand entrance. Sometimes, you need me to organize it all. If you have a day of event coordinator they will go over the procession details with you and I don't want to be redundant. I will always defer to your venue coordinator and take up where they leave off. Each venue is different. I have no problem doing it all at any time.