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Sunday, August 21, 2016

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.

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