I decided to write this blog post to help couples feel comfortable as they are looking for a wedding officiant. I hope it answers your questions or puts your mind as ease.
This is an update to this post that was published earlier this year. I've recently completely updated my website and my formal wedding ceremony services. I've found that couples have new need with every season. I'm now offering a better price structure for formal weddings so you only need to pay for what you actually want and need, I've added a new ceremony website called It's all about the Ceremony! so couples can have more flexibility in creating their own ceremony. I've provided the tools for free that I used to charge for because I found most couples didn't need the extra help. I have more pre-written formal ceremonies to choose from. I've also added a wedding ceremony consulting services for couples who really want to DIY their own ceremony and to help those who want to perform wedding ceremonies. I'm so excited about all I have to offer and the new couples I'm meeting!
It’s January! It’s time to hunker down now that the holiday rush is through and it’s time to address wedding details. Chances are you already have the venue, the caterer and the photographer. Those are usually the most important decisions to make. What’s your date? Where are you getting married? Who’s going to feed everyone? And, who’s going to capture it all in pictures? You’ve probably said “Yes!” to the dress. If you are getting married in a church you have most likely booked your pastor or priest and are in the midst of pre-marital classes and counseling, meeting the requirements to get married in your church. Or, maybe not. Maybe you just realized you need to hire an officiant to marry you. How do you do that?
This time of year, I’m spending a lot of time on correspondence and meeting with couples who are looking a wedding officiant. I do a lot of talking before booking. There are many interesting points I’ve recognized in during the process and you might find them helpful.
I’m always booking weddings. It’s a Monday morning and I have a Small Family Wedding in Greenwood at noon today. I added online scheduling and I booked a Civil Ceremony for tomorrow afternoon last night while I was sitting in bed. The couple didn’t have to call or email, they are in need of a simple service and just booked it. I’ll meet them for the first time tomorrow when we sign their marriage license. My calendar can be nearly empty right now, as I look at it, and somehow, by the end of December, I’ll have married somewhere around 500 couples. It’s the nature of my business.
I can look over my calendar for the year and see weekends that have weddings scheduled with large chunks of time blocked out. Those are something completely different. Those are the formal weddings that are usually a year or more in the making. Formal Weddings are something completely different. Formal Weddings require planning, planning and more planning. They also require a lot of money and discussions as to how that money is going to be spent. Some people plan right down to the minute detail and other plan a little more broadly and allow the details to fall where they may.
I’ve got several wedding’s on my calendar that have been booked a year or more in advance. Those couples are generally choosing Indy as the place to get married but no longer live here. They may have grown up here, have family here or they went to school here. Sometimes, Indy is a great central location for everyone to meet in the middle of the country. These couples are doing all of their planning from a distance and know they need to look at details and book everything ahead of time. They usually plan to be in Indy several weekends over the year before their wedding and they schedule meetings to meet with all of their vendors while they are here. They have to be that organized. I have a strong online presence and I have a very detailed website. My business is set up to do just about all the planning online. My weddings that are booked a year or more in advance are usually booked by these couples. They know it will be worth the money to hire a local professional they can easily have digital access to.
I’m spending a lot of time at Starbucks this month meeting couples. Many of these couples don’t really know what they are looking for, they know they need to find a person to marry them and they are looking at their options. They might schedule several meetings with different officiants to get an idea of who may be a good match for them. Often, couples don’t know anything about a wedding ceremony and I give them a lot of information during the meeting. Some couples are just scheduling meetings because an online checklist tells them they should meet with several different vendors to find the perfect one. Some couples have done a lot of research on who they’d like to marry them and have narrowed it down to a few they are meeting with.
I’ve learned a lot from meeting with so many couples. I’m not offended if someone doesn’t choose me to marry them. I realize I don’t really have any competition as a wedding officiant for formal weddings. Couples are really looking for a good match for them. Often, they have certain needs they need met. They may need someone with a certain look. I’m not a man. You might need a man to marry you for whatever reason. There are couples who specifically want a woman to marry them. Many formal weddings I perform are based on religious aspects. I book secular humanists that don’t want any mention of God in their ceremony and are happy to find someone that is willing to do that. Other couples want an interfaith ceremony that honors their different religious backgrounds. Some couples need a wedding officiant that can write and perform a ceremony that will make their families happy and not force them to compromise their own feelings and beliefs during their wedding ceremony. Once, a couple literally said,
“We decided if we have to have a ceremony we wanted it to be kinda crazy and different so we decided you fit the bill.” I think that was a compliment? It was an awesome wedding, either way.
I’ve learned when meeting couples I get a chance to see if I really want to work with them. I know I get critiqued during a meeting. I’m doing the same thing. How did this couple correspond with me? Will I get along with them? Can I reasonably meet their needs? You might have a difficult situation. I totally understand that. I often have the skills you need to meet your needs and it’s not difficult for me. I’m probably closer to your parents age and can communicate with them easily to ease their minds about a non-church wedding. It’s just what I do. Sometimes when I get an email saying the couple has decided to hire a different officiant I can see why. We just didn’t get along at all. I understand how important this is to you and I want what is best for you and respect that only you know what really is best for you. Your wedding and your ceremony is a big deal! I might look good on paper, but you need an actual person to perform your wedding. Some people just need a bland man in a suit to say the perfunctory words expected during a wedding ceremony.
And then again, sometimes your wedding ceremony is really not a big deal. You never even really gave it much thought. The dress, the party, the band, the bridal party, the honeymoon… That’s all that’s really important. Maybe you are on the countdown to your wedding and your coordinator at your venue asked who your wedding officiant is and you just realized you don’t have one. I book a lot of formal weddings 4 months or less from the wedding date. Sometimes I don’t even meet these couples until the rehearsal or the wedding. We do everything by email. Often with just a few emails. They make a deposit, I send a ceremony, they either like the ceremony I send them or they lightly edit it and that’s it. They pay in full, and that’s it.
Maybe you asked a friend or family member to marry you and now that it’s getting closer to the day you realize that situation is just not going to work out. Maybe in the beginning you figured you could write your own ceremony or your friend said they would take care of it and then backed out. You might have thought that you could save money on this aspect of your wedding or that you would enjoy writing the ceremony. You then realize that you have so many things on your plate right now that hiring a pro is actually worth the money and gives you peace of mind. Marry Me In Indy! To the rescue! I get calls and emails from mom’s or sisters or Maid’s of Honor a little frantic. I’m usually able to help.
This past summer I went from a leisurely holiday weekend to two formal weddings in a row. I’m usually that flexible. Couples choose to get married at all sorts of different times.
Holiday weekends usually have Sunday weddings. Some weeks have formal weddings on Thursday or Friday. Not just Saturday. You can often save money on your venue by choosing a time that’s not Saturday afternoon at 4:30. I might book small weddings in the morning or early afternoon and then still have the evening open. You never know until you ask.
A wedding officiant is not a priest or a pastor. I became a wedding officiant because the priest that married me and my husband was a controlling, power hungry jerk. He was flexing his power because he knew he could and it was humiliating. Usually, I can be just about anything you need me to be. I can pray, I can not pray. I can communicate effectively with your parents, I can make everyone laugh or cry. I love my job and how diverse it is. You might be like everyone else in a lot of ways but you aren’t. You are you. You and the person you choose to marry are unique. As you enter into marriage you enter into an intimate relationship that only the two of you share. In your secrets or sense of humor or both. How you view the world is unique to you. I’m open to whatever you bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to ask! What you think may be a huge problem probably isn’t. It might have a very simple solution you simply hadn’t thought of or thought possible.
Please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m happy to help!
Adventures of a wedding officiant! Stories about my experiences as a wedding officiant in Indy.