Getting married is not a one-day event, it is a lifetime practice. That said, no matter how close you’ve been in the months and maybe years leading up to your wedding, the ceremony itself should be a transformative experience. Choosing the right officiant is vital.
As an officiant, my job is to help you:
- Be explicit with each other about what promises you are making, solemnifying and celebrating on this day;
- Explore and decide upon the words, rituals, music, and meditation or prayer, if desired, that make the ceremony a vibrant celebration of you as a couple;
- To understand the role you want your witnesses to play, and to help you be creative about their inclusion in ways that are meaningful to you;
- On the day of the ceremony, to keep you both centered on each other, on your promises, and the joy of making them together.
For over a decade, my ministry has centered on transformative events. As a hospital volunteer chaplain and as a visiting eucharistic minister in hospice, I have participated with families as they go through the work and pain of losing loved ones. During my babies’ infant years, I worked with many new mothers as they struggled to find their footing amid the joy and exhaustion of birth and early childhood.
My wedding ministry focuses on the transformation of marriage, and being present with the marrying people as they make that walk together.
In my personal life, I am a Christian, however, as a lay minister, I am an enthusiastic participant in rituals of all types. It is my honor to be a witness and celebrant in whatever faith or secular tradition makes your wedding ceremony transformative and beautiful.
Can you consecrate our wedding in the Christian faith?
I am a practicing Christian, but I am not ordained to Christian ministry. I am delighted to perform whatever service you would like and to bring my own faith and enthusiasm to the consecration, but if it is important to you that the marriage be consecrated by a church, you will need an ordained minister.
What is the difference between an ordained minister and a lay minister?
Ordination carries with it the authority of a church and the requirement of higher education in theology. (Seminary, or a Masters or PhD in theological studies.) Ordination almost always requires vows of obedience and several years of training and mentorship. It is generally a lifetime professional calling. Lay ministry is performed by people called to ministry but not ordination. We might be members of a church and we might serve in the church, but we do not carry the authority of ordination. Most lay ministers have other professions outside of their ministry.
Can you provide communion at our service?
I am a lay eucharistic minister, which means I bring communion that has been consecrated by an ordained person to people who cannot receive it in church (usually because they are hospitalized or housebound). If you would like to celebrate the eucharist at your wedding, you will need an ordained minister.
We are atheists. We do not like God. Is that okay with you?
Some people do not like cheese or chocolate. I do not serve these things to them. I certainly don’t insist on serving these foods at their weddings.
A completely secular, non-religious wedding is as sacred and devout as any held in the greatest cathedral. I’d be delighted to celebrate your pagan, or atheist, or multi-faith ceremony with enthusiasm and love.
We each have multiple children from multiple prior marriages, will that be a problem?
Gurl … lemme tell you about my Grandma who might just have been an accidental bigamist.
And also about my other Grandma who treated me like her own blood from day one, even though I wasn’t. And after telling you all that, I’d still have two Grandmas I didn’t tell you about.
Families are messy. Wedding ceremonies should celebrate all the joy and complexity of family life and the underlying love that sustains us.
Please bring me your six stepchildren and Cousin Oliver. I’ll find a job for each and every last one of them while helping you both — the couple — to remember to focus on your promises to each other this day.
We’d Like a Very Formal Wedding
I love the elegance and precision that are at the heart of a formal sacred celebration, and I love working with couples to find appropriate literature, scripture, and music while I put together a homily that suits you and the occasion.
It is very important to us that we take our vows with three goats dancing to tambourines. Is that ok?
Love goats, love tambourines. I’m in. I’m also interested to know the origins and importance of this part of your service, so I can meaningfully speak to it in your homily.
We’ve got this kind of funny thing, we don’t know how you’ll feel about it…
It is extremely unlikely that you have anything going on that I would not be happy to celebrate and support. That said, if I am not one hundred percent sure I can minister you through your wedding ceremony, I’ll let you know, and I will help you find just the right person.
If we get the full package of services, do our meetings count as premarital counseling?
Nope. I highly recommend that all couples who are choosing marriage work with a therapist in the months leading up to their ceremony. In those sessions, you can talk about the really hard stuff, and work on things like not repeating family history, respecting boundaries, and how you’re going to handle joint expenses.
Your time with me will be more about “I really want Led Zeppelin for my recessional, is that ok?” and “I want Dad to walk me down the aisle, but I do not want to be ‘given away’” or maybe, “Who has the best dancing goats for rental?”
What is a homily?
In the Christian tradition, a homily is a sermon given after the reading of scripture. It is meant to be more inspirational than educational, and it should give the listener context for the day’s service, and practical guidance on living its meaning.
In this case, the homily serves the same purpose, only the scripture is you as a couple. After our time working together I will know a lot about you, and I will know the process you underwent to put your service together and the significance behind your choices.
My homily is a brief message to you both and to your witnesses. It is entirely up to you the tone of the homily, or whether you even want one. Typically, I include important stories you have shared with me (with your consent), I talk about whatever elements of your ceremony you have chosen and why they represent you well. And then I give you my very best wishes for a long and mutually fulfilling partnership.
I am comfortable with secular and Christian homilies, long or short, at your preference. Here is an example of one I wrote for a funeral (link to Valerie Lillian post).
“Just meet us there and sign the certificate.” – $150.00
“We’ll email you the program with your part highlighted, we’ve got everything else covered.” – $250.00
Full Wedding Package — $1,000.00
Consultation (free) Whenever you’re ready to hire a celebrant, we’ll talk (probably remotely) about what you’re looking for in a celebrant and wedding service and whether I am a good fit for you.
First Meeting (1 hour, about three months before the wedding, either in person or remotely) I’ll want to get to know you and get a feel for you as a couple, for your story, and for the moments that brought you to the planning of a wedding. You’ll let me know what the most important elements are of your ceremony so we can make them the focus on which we build the rest of the service. I’ll offer as much or as little input as you want in choosing the readings, prayers/meditations, and music that best capture the spirit of your life together.
Electronic collaboration (Months leading up to service) We’ll create a shared document outlining your service, which we can use to talk about what you are exploring in the way of music, readings, location, and other ceremonial elements. If I am doing a homily for you, we’ll share notes about what you would like included (and what you would like me not to say — which is just as important).
Final Meeting (1 hour, one month before the ceremony, in person or remotely) We’ll lock in your choices and create the final copy of the program for you to have printed. We’ll talk about how you’re feeling about the upcoming event and what I can do to best support you.
Rehearsal (Day before, 1 hour, entire wedding party) First, we will spend a few minutes together re-articulating your goals as a couple for the rehearsal and the ceremony. You will let me know of any last-minute changes or instructions for me, and I will reassure you that it really is supposed to be just this nutty the day before a wedding. Then, we will proceed to the rehearsal.
The rehearsal is where I introduce your witnesses to the wedding service you have designed as a couple, gently instruct them on their roles and hold firm the boundary that it is your service and it will be done your way.
The Ceremony I will arrive one hour before the start of the ceremony. I will get a few minutes with both of you separately or together, as you like, to check in. And then we will get you married!