A popular wedding trend is to have a loved one officiate your wedding. We often hear from couples interested in having a friend or family member who has become ordained online officiate their wedding. Even if it’s possible for your loved one to legally perform and register your wedding (to read about becoming a wedding officiant in Puerto Rico click here), we recommend leaving the officiating to the professionals. Your wedding ceremony is only fifteen minutes long and it’s important that everything goes smoothly. There are many variables to outdoor destination weddings and local knowledge and experience is so important. Here are a few considerations.
Setting the stage
Even the most assured and long-term couples are nervous and jittery when they arrive at their wedding altar. Perhaps the most important job of a wedding officiant happens before the ceremony even starts. Setting the scene is so important to the vibe and energy of a beautiful wedding ceremony. We’ve seen couples spend their entire ceremony four feet apart, facing the officiant as if she’s a judge in a courtroom. We avoid that by quietly calming and reassuring the couple while handing off bouquets and positioning the two of them for the most intimate connection (and the best photos). The emotion, the meaning, and the beauty of a wedding ceremony come when a couple is looking each other in the eyes, holding hands, and really considering their feelings and everything that has brought them to that moment. It’s also when they start to cry, which usually gets their guests and loved ones emotional as well!
Words & script
Non-professional officiants tend to focus on the words and the ‘script’. However, the actual words that are spoken are only one (small) part of the overall wedding experience. Of course, our ceremonies include meaningful messages and passages. But the body language, the smiles, the eye contact, the voice projection so that all can hear those beautiful words … all are just as important as the actual words themselves.
Teamwork makes the (wedding day) dream work!
We do things a little differently, as our officiants work as a team with our day-of coordinator, our photographer, and our videographer. We’ve worked hundreds of weddings together, and we can say with certainty that a team experienced and efficient working together provides the best wedding day experience. Eye contact or a thumbs’ up across a beach or a group of guests is usually all we need to communicate and resolve whatever might be happening at that moment, without the couple even knowing. Whether it’s a guest who needs some special attention or a great idea for a photo or video shot, we’re all working together.
Photos & video
Before and during a ceremony, our officiants are continually communicating with the rest of the team through eye contact and subtle signals (our couples don’t even realize it’s happening!) to ensure the most amazing photos and video. That guest who insists on standing or reaching into the aisle with his phone or camera, ruining the shots of the professional photographer and videographer? Our officiant knows how to ask that guest to stop in a way that doesn’t hurt his feelings or ruin the positive vibe of the ceremony. That first kiss as a married couple? We know to “get out of the way of the kiss” so that this iconic moment isn’t photobombed by the officiant standing in the background. Positioning our couples’ hands for the ring exchange to ensure the best images? No problem. Our experience ensures that your photos and video will be the absolute best.
It’s about the couple, not the officiant
It’s common for guest officiants to spend ceremony time talking about their relationship with the couple. Such stories can be both fun and meaningful, but we believe that they are best suited for a speech at a celebration afterward. The ceremony itself should be about the couple and their relationship. We can and do personalize our ceremonies as we get to know our couples throughout the planning process, including customization of their ceremony so that it’s exactly what they want.
Outdoor weddings & the unknowns
There are often unknown factors and surprises that come up on wedding days. When they do, it’s important that your officiant knows the location and the team so that they can provide quick solutions to make your wedding day run smoothly. For example, weather is often a factor, so your officiant should know how to read the sky and the current conditions (forecasts and radar generally do not work in our ever-changing tropical climate). We’ve started ceremonies under blue skies, only to read the wind and watch fast-moving clouds approach and cause us to pivot in the moment, shortening the parts of the ceremony that we can so as to finish before the rain starts. Local knowledge is everything.
In general, we recommend finding other ways for your loved ones to be involved in your wedding day, rather than having your loved one officiate your wedding. They can be a part of the wedding party, or say a reading during your ceremony, or give a toast or prayer at your dinner or reception. But let them be guests whose only job is to enjoy the day and shower the couple with the love and support they deserve. Your wedding day deserves the best professionals, and we’re happy to help!
Let us know how we can help you realize the wedding day of your dreams!
Contact us for more information about our stress-free wedding and elopement packages that include all the above. All you need to do is show up! We’d love to help!
Photos: AJR Photo Studio
Check out some of our recent blog posts: