If there’s one detail that we consistently see couples confused about, it’s finding an officiant and crafting up a meaningful ceremony that rocks their socks. We’ve written before about writing your own ceremony and your own vows, and even having a friend officiate.
But with the help of our sponsor, Thumbtack, we’ve got insight from loads of amazing professional officiants to inform your choices! This is the inside scoop on the biggest mistakes couples make when planning their ceremony right from the source — the amazing, incredible officiants.
Let’s pick their brains…
“What’s the biggest mistake you see couples make when crafting their wedding ceremony?”:
Couples sometimes don’t realize that they can re-envision old traditions. For example, you can create a unity ritual with elements that are meaningful for the couple. If you met at a coffee shop, why not create a unity ritual with the sharing of coffee? Try to find an officiant creative in ritual design.
Also, it can be easy to forget the comfort of guests. For example, if you are having an outdoor ceremony in the middle of summer, make sure to have water nearby to prevent dehydration and possibly having a guest faint.
With so many ideas popping around on the internet today, I have seen a lot of couples who want to include everything in their ceremony. They want a unity candle ceremony AND a sand ceremony. They ask for their friend to sing a (long) song during the ceremony AND have their best friend read a long poem. Sometimes it can be too much. Ideally, a ceremony is best when it’s under 30 minutes. At that point, the guests are thinking about what kind of drink they want at the bar or sneaking a peek at their Facebook page, or simply spacing out. Have a vision. Like DIY projects, don’t try to include every idea that sounds good to you.
Jay Binnebose, Officiant:
The biggest mistake I see couples making is waiting too long to book the officiant. The officiant should be booked around the same time the venue is booked. Many couples are trying to book an officiant within 60 days of the wedding and some within the same month. This will limit your choices significantly.
Kimberly Burke, Officiant:
I feel the biggest mistake is not having a back-up plan for an outdoor wedding. Although having a wedding outdoors can be very beautiful, you must realize we are working with Mother Nature here. Try to have a plan in case of inclement weather.
I have done many themed weddings. It’s very fun, but please remember to tell your photographer if the ceremony will be in a room with lower lights, have fog, or any other things that may effect the outcome of the pictures of your lovely ceremony.
Gary Shultz, Officiant:
The main mistake I see couples make is not thinking about the location of the ceremony when planning the unifying elements of the ceremony. For instance, if you have an outdoor wedding, think about not using a unity candle. It will blow out and someone will inevitably tell you it is bad luck. If you have a wedding in a carpeted church, avoid a sand ceremony. It is very hard to get sand out of the carpet!
Janine Nichol, Officiant:
Alotting too much time to the ceremony. Couples should keep the ceremony between 10-25 minutes (unless religious or personal reasons deem otherwise). Anything longer than that and you begin to lose the crowd.
Karlene Williams, Officiant:
Couples forget a checklist of what they need at the wedding. I’ve had multiple couples arrive without their wedding licenses, without all or some of the wedding rings, and without the brides’ bouquets. One couple forgot everything! If you do forget one or more things, relax. You may have wanted those rings exchanged during the ceremony; begin planning on doing so a few years down the road when you might renew your vows. The same with other items. If it’s the license, immediately ask your officiant how they want to handle this. Bottom line, it’s all happened before with other couples. Laugh, relax, and enjoy the new life you’re starting together. You’re fine.
Make your witness or witnesses immediately available to your wedding officiant after they have concluded the ceremony. They are probably tired and want to be on their way.
Interview prospective wedding officiants. Make sure the one you select is a good fit. Don’t hesitate to tell your wedding officiant what you like and don’t like. There are no wedding police, and if they can’t give you suggestions and work with your decisions which will make this wedding uniquely yours, keep looking!
Many ceremonies aren’t very personalized. Both individuals are unique and coming from different paths in life to join as one. A ceremony can reflect the story of each partner, with readings, customs, and rituals tailored to each person. If two people come from different religious, cultural, or spiritual traditions, you can blend elements of each into a ceremony that celebrates the couple.
Sharan DePalma, Blissful Bonds:
The biggest mistake is trying to do too much. In other words, the couple chooses two readings, three rituals, and four different songs. Sometimes this can dilute the beauty of the ceremony because there are too many focal points. It’s my job to guide the couple to narrow down their choices to create a memorable service.
The biggest mistake I see couples make is hiring an officiant as an afterthought thinking that all officiants are the same. A good wedding officiant will connect with you as a couple, make you and your guests feel welcome, and create a service that is both fun and memorable. Be willing to pay a little more to get a seasoned professional. It will take your special day from being okay to being one to remember for a lifetime.
Hannah Desmond, Heartlight Weddings:
The biggest mistake I see couples make is trying to follow a wedding format that does not truly resonate with who they are, their lifestyle, personalities, and beliefs. Rigidly adhering to a set program of how the wedding has to be because this is the way a book or relative says it has to be, leads to a ceremony that is filled with tension. I have seen weddings where no one is comfortable and the greatest day of their lives turns out to be something they must endure.
Brian Borgia, Monterey Bay Wedding Officiants
My advice is that a wedding ceremony should be something that has meaning to you as a couple. Often, I will meet with couples who are looking to please parents and grandparents by inserting readings that don’t have any meaning to them. The most important thing to remember is that this is YOUR ceremony and YOUR memory.