Every now and then, a curious soul asks us what we’ve learned as Seattle wedding Officiants performing nearly 1000 weddings in Western Washington over the past eight years. We usually give our “tried-and-true” answer about how nothing ever goes exactly as planned and everyone has to be flexible and willing to have a good time, no matter what happens.
This generally satisfies the questioner, and until now we haven’t really been inclined to go into much detail. However, in the interest of expanding the boundaries of knowledge, and in celebration of entering our eighth year in the business, we have decided to publish, herein, our list of the five most useful things we’ve learned from performing weddings.
These are not listed in any particular order of importance – we think they’re all pretty important. They’re also not the only lessons we’ve learned, just the top five we regularly fall back on. We also think that you, as a bride and/or groom, wouldn’t do too badly to remember them for your own use – what’s good for the Officiant is often good for the couple. These tidbits have made our professional lives more interesting, less frustrating, and a lot more fun. The bottom line: Learn to take everything with a grain of salt. Hey, come to think of it, that could be tidbit #6!
- Be flexible. Perfection is unlikely, and we all know about the “best laid plans.” Our ability to respond quickly (and positively) to the unexpected has often gone a long way towards assuring a successful event for the couple.
- Keep your cool. Before the ceremony, we try to think of ourselves as “an island of calm in a sea of chaos,” providing a safe harbor for anyone in the Bridal Party who thinks they’re starting to “freak out.”
- Don’t lose your sense of humor. If these lessons were listed in order of importance, this would have to be close to the top. Anything that goes sideways now will almost certainly seem pretty funny in retrospect, so why wait? Laugh about it now, and get on with the festivities!
- Be prepared. In retrospect, this seems like a no-brainer, but in the beginning, it wasn’t unusual for one of us to leave out a paragraph, stumble on a sentence, mispronounce names and, in my case, forget to seat the audience until three-fourths of the ceremony was done! That most of these things don’t happen anymore is a testament to our practice of carefully learning the ceremony ahead of time, knowing as much as possible about the couple…and diligently employing items 1-3 on this list!
- Remember who you work for! We’ve learned this is critical, and what seems to set us apart from other wedding vendors, at least in the minds of the couples who ultimately choose us. We never forget that our function is to do a specific job, and do it perfectly. We were not hired by the couple to be their friends. Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we get to do both…but if it comes down to a choice, we always consider ourselves “hired hands,” and we never forget who hired us.
Of course, we’ve learned a lot of other things over the past eight years, and eventually I’ll probably update this list as we learn more. For now, it’s still our goal to offer the best possible service to a couple and validate the faith and trust they place in us by allowing us to be a part of such a joyful, intimate and special day.