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Monday, August 29, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...: In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the p...

Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...

Planning Events with Less Stress: Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Broo...: In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the p...

Weddings with Rocks, Roses, Sand, Wine Boxes, Brooms and Cording!

In Washington State there are only two statements that have to be included in wedding ceremonies to make the marriage legal as long as the person marrying them is qualified to perform the ceremony.  The "Do you take" and "Do you take" statements are to prove that neither person is entering the marriage under duress.  The other required statement is simply with them being declared as husband and wife, husband and husband or wife and wife, spouses for life, whatever the case may be.  If these two statements are not recited or duplicated in some manner, Washington State technically, does not recognize the marriage.

Seldom does anyone want a ceremony with only the two required phrases.  At the minimum there are the so-called love, honor, cherish vows and the inclusion of some kind of ring ceremony.  Beyond that, is where the uniqueness that most couples crave comes into play for their own weddings.  So let's talk a bit about how sand, rocks, candles, wine boxes, roses, oathing stones, brooms, and cording accomplish that for a wedding ceremony.  Keep in mind that these are just starting points and that many couples add personalization to personalization!  People often enjoy borrowing customs from other cultures.  As a wedding officiant, this keeps things very interesting!


The Sand Ceremony

The Sand Ceremony involves at least two colors of sand that are usually placed in two glass containers and poured together by a couple or two or more family members into one container signifying that two lives or two families being blended together can never be separated.  

The Rock Ceremony

The Rock Ceremony is unique and includes guest participation.  For example, there would be a rock set on every chair and the guests hold the rock in their hands and make a wish for the happiness of the bride and groom and their life together.  The guests then place their "wish" into a container.  I've seen the bride and groom place the first rocks in the bottom of a box on which they've written faith, hope and love on them representing a good foundation and all the others wishes built upon that.  I suggested this type of ceremony for one couple whose wedding was outdoors and they hadn't thought about the consequences of having programs on each chair.  Obviously, they would not stay on the chairs and needed a paperweight!  It took on a very special meaning because for generations the bride's family had a cabin on Flathead Lake.  That lake is known for the stones there that are flat.  A family member delivered enough rocks from their cabin to be used for the ceremony.  

The Unity Candle Ceremony

This is the ceremony that most people are familiar with, but is not used as often because of most venues banning the use of candles.  Two candles are lit and are either used by the couple getting married or perhaps both of the couple's mothers who then light a single candle signifying the uniting of two families.  

The Wine Box Ceremony

The Wine Box Ceremony has at least a couple of variations as far as its purpose.  The couple will write a letter describing their love for their future spouse and during the ceremony, each will place their letter  into the wine box which has already had a bottle of wine placed in it.  Here's where the purposes can vary.  Some couples open the box on their first anniversary and read the letters to each other and celebrate with a glass of wine.  Other couples will save it for their first fight and read the letters to remind themselves of their love for each other and again relax with a bottle of wine.

The Rose Ceremony

The Rose Ceremony is one that can be used in a variety of ways, but the most traditional rose ceremony involves the bride and groom taking a rose during the ceremony and giving it to their now mother-in-law.  Again, it is a symbol of blending two families.

The Oathing Stone Ceremony

The Oathing Stone ceremony originates from Celtic tradition.  A bride and groom would place their hands on a large stone often near a river which would be considered a connection to their ancestors. They would sometimes etch their names in the stone.  This is also how carving initials in trees began.  Today, couples can buy a stone with their initials carved into it.  At their wedding ceremony they both hold together in their hands the stone while the vows are being read.  This would be difficult with vows they had written rather than listening to and responding with short phrases during a ceremony.

The Broomstick Ceremony

The Broomstick ceremony has its origins in parts of Africa.  Over many centuries, the significance of the broom changed in meaning.  However, it was one tradition that survived during slavery.  That in itself made the broom ceremony one which became more of a bad reminder of that era.  After Alex Haley's book and movie Roots, were was made famous in the 1970's, the interest in this tradition was rekindled.  It was and is also common in ancient and modern Celtic wedding ceremonies.  At a wedding, after the couple has been pronounced as a married couple, they both jump over the broom at the same time.  Now it represents the beginning of a new life together.  Ancient African meanings were not so charming in that whomever jumped over the broom the highest was to be the "ruler" of the household.  (I would have said, "Ladies, practice jumping...really high!")

The Handfasting Ceremony

The Handfasting Ceremony in another tradition from the Celtics.  Again there are many variations of this type of ceremony.  A cord or ribbon is used to bind together a couple's hands with the cord or ribbon binding wrapped once more over their hands for each vow that is recited.  This is literally where the expression "tying the knot" originated.

I could go into much more detail on the blending of cultures in wedding ceremonies, but that will have to wait until another time.  Including one of our funniest wedding officiating stories ever! 💝

As always, 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

Planning Events with Less Stress: What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?: There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, offici...

What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

There are many fabulous wedding officiants in the Seattle area.  I have great respect for all of them. In some parts of the country, officiants are not even considered to be wedding vendors. Perhaps it's such a foregone conclusion that someone is going to be in that role.  Perhaps it's the seriousness of the role that makes officiants seem different from other vendor choices.  We aren't an optional decision when it comes to weddings.  Someone has to make the marriage legal.

Recently, I was speaking about statistics with someone from a lead site.  They send vendors comparison reports on how much time it takes for the average vendor to respond.  They also will say if your prices are higher and lower than others.  I was concerned and in disagreement with them that I was higher priced than others when I know what industry standards are for Officiants in our area. However, I was very pleased with how our conversation continued.  The vendor service representative then said something that I hope I remember in the future for other business decisions. She said, "Most of the officiants charge less but our best performing officiants are in a higher price range similar to yours".  

We discussed reasons for that.  The first was the introductory response and how well it is written. On this particular lead site, you only have 1,000 characters including spaces to help someone feel comfortable and confident enough to inquire further about hiring you on one of the most important days in their life.  The second contributing factor of success was followup.  Yes, even for wedding officiants followup is as much of an issue as it is for any other type of entrepreneur.

Time is our biggest investment. There's a lot of work that goes into preparing a special ceremony. With the initial consultation (60-90 minutes), the goal is to reach the essence of their relationship. The consultation needs to include topics from how they met, what a typical date is like, their hobbies, interests and how their personalities blend. I want to know who is better at leading and being practical and who is better is a supporting and encouraging role. My favorite clue into what makes them unique is hearing about their marriage proposal.  Many people meet online, and those stories can sometimes seem like a miracle that they even got to know each other.  The goal is to create a ceremony that reflects a couple's personality and hopes for the future.

Then the work begins.  I generally have enough to know what kind of ceremony they would like.  I know if they will be what my husband affectionately termed as "repeaters or non-repeaters".  Non-repeaters are lucky to get the words "I do" out and don't want to remember even the shortest phrases.  Other couples will say, "Why have a wedding ceremony if we aren't going to write our own vows?"  No two weddings are alike just as no two couples are alike.  I can't forget to mention rehearsals! Rehearsals are often very confusing without an officiant. Writing a ceremony is somewhat like writing the first chapter in a book.  The rest of the story is for the couple to compose.

I don't ever want to fall into the class of "cheap officiants".  Putting my heart and soul into getting a glimpse into the heart and soul of my couples is priceless.  It's more than just a legality or a contract to be recognized by a county and state and making sure everyone signs and dates on the right line. Much more!

Yes officiants often are placed in the role of a wedding planner even though it can appear like they are herding rabbits!  Are there really rabbit herders?  Doubt it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Waiting to Officiate a Wedding This Afternoon

Pre-Wedding Ceremony:

I'm still home but my mind is already at the wedding I'm officiating this afternoon.

Unlike the average couple getting married, I'm not nervous as their officiant.  Instead, I find myself in awe of the privilege I have with just the right words, to create a legal bond between two people that is already built on love.  We had the rehearsal yesterday, and I know that today I might not even recognize them because of the hair and makeup on the ladies and with the gents being all dressed up rather than in tank tops and shorts.

I'll finish this after the ceremony and while I still have my day-long smile, I'll have yet another flower girl or adorable ring bearer story to tell.  Until then, I cannot wait to see who I hand out the tissues to.  They are often given to the ones who don't think they'll need them.

Update to come several hours from now!

Post Wedding Ceremony Update!

I predicted correctly that I'd have another flower girl or ring bearer story to tell! In fact there were some firsts for me!  When kids do or don't do their jobs in these roles, it's still cute!  So what were these firsts?  Let's start with the flower girl.  Twice during the ceremony she walked from where the bridesmaids were over to the bride and said, "Just kiss!!"  Who couldn't laugh at that?  I didn't know if the bride was going to be able to compose herself!  

picture from another wedding
Okay, now for the ring bearer. He had a meltdown outside of the building and was face down on the deck drinking milk.  We were a little concerned that he would not want to hang onto a pillow so they tied the rings onto his favorite stuffed toy, Pluto. Someone had to go out to the deck to get Pluto with the rings.  Here's the other first!  The Best Man got to hold Pluto during the wedding ceremony! 

In all these years of officiating weddings, I've only been wrong with one wedding. How's that?  I know that the groom is going to shed the tears first.  Once again, I was right.  I never get tired of seeing tender moments like that.

As always,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Preventing "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?" at Your Events.

For Any Event, Prevent This! "Are You Ready to Leave Yet?"

You might know someone or maybe that someone is yourself who is ready to leave an event before it has even started.  I kind of feel that way about surgery, but some people feel that way about events and weddings.  I don't know if it's the opposite of the way kids can be on a road trip and they are saying, "Are we there, yet?" or maybe they grow up to be adults wanting to leave any event early.  You know who they usually are. Typically it's a husband leaning sideways toward his wife's ear to say, "Are you ready to leave yet?"  If it's really bad he might say, "I'll be out in the car".

When you're hosting an event you've obviously put a lot of time, money, thought and energy into something that will not last nearly as long.  A host will often feel disappointed or like a failure if their guests leave early.  Everyone should host an event to see what that might feel like. For a business event, it can feel like a failure to meet your ROI. (Return on Investment) but it's not really a good measure for that. There are a couple of simple things that will make people stay longer.  

For a social event, I found one thing that works to keep even the most reluctant attendees from leaving early!  In my experience, it's been having an ice cream cart or truck.  Trucks are better in hot weather, obviously.  Ben and Jerry's (my favorite) is only one of similar operations. Dessert trucks are great, too.  Everyone becomes a kid again and will find ways to get in line multiple times to try each flavor in a cone. Then, little justification is needed to try another flavor without a cone.   It reminds me of variables and probability.

Remember the cone holds the ice cream, but the ice cream holds the power!

Music is another key to having people linger. Music affects more areas of the brain and will also make people remember your event. When I'm helping a client plan an event, I frequently go into a science lesson as to why this is the case. 

Remember these simple tricks that will make your guests want to stay longer whether they know the reason or not!

As always,