As Seen on The Knot

Designing the Perfect Wedding Ceremony!

Contact me for a free copy of my E-Booklet, Great Ceremonies for Savvy Couples

Chicago Wedding Rites Wedding Minister        Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, Chicago Wedding Officiant

Professional Wedding Officiants do more than read the script -- they deliver the experience!
 Planning a Wedding is both fun and stressful but what often gets lost in the shuffle is the ceremony! How and where are you going to say the magical words, “I do” and who is going to be the Officiant?

If you leave your wedding ceremony until the last moment, chances are that there will be nothing personal about it; in fact, in all likelihood, it will be the same standard ceremony that your officiant uses over and over again. The wedding ceremony can and should be the highlight of your Wedding. Your friends and family have not shown up simply to party but to witness your public commitment to one another. Without careful planning, you could end up bored to tears, offended or so rushed that you have no recollection as to what took place.

If you want to avoid a horror story of your own, make your wedding ceremony the heart of the occasion. Decide between yourselves what you are looking for – a traditional religious ceremony, a ceremony that is more spiritual than religious, an inter-faith service, a secular wedding. Ask yourselves whether you want your wedding to be formal or relaxed – of course, the setting will be important here. If you are getting married in a cathedral, the ceremony is going to be very different than if you are getting married on a beach in Hawaii. Consider how much of the ceremony you want to create yourselves – whether you are going to write your own vows, select your readings, incorporate rituals that are meaningful to you. Then find the right Marriage Officiant.

If you are lucky, you will know a professional wedding minister already -- someone you have seen "in action." That failing, there may be a referral that helps – perhaps the venue coordinator or your wedding planner, if you have one, may have some suggestions. You can always browse through wedding sites like to see who best fits the type of ceremony you have in mind. Call several of the Wedding Officiants listed; try to get a sense of their style over the phone or else meet with them in person. It is your wedding so screening potential Officiants is important. I do not recommend asking a friend or relative to officiate unless 1) they are experienced  Officiants 2) they are licensed to take care of legalities. 

Wedding Officiating involves becoming the ritual leader, one who is capable of dealing with every adversity from non-functioning sound systems to guests knocking over floral arrangements! The Officiant needs to be able to diffuse tension, handle crises and react spontaneously when the unexpected happens. He or she also needs to create a sense of solemnity with a light touch and carefully injected humor. Sadly, a friend or relative may be able to read the script but not to deliver the experience!

Working with your Wedding Officiant, come up with a general plan of the ceremony. What will the Entrance Procession look like? Who is going to give away whom? Will there be any opening rituals, such as the Lighting of the Unity Candle by both sets of parents? What should your Officiant mention in the Opening Comments? What Readings will be included – A scripture passage? A poem? An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran? How personal do you want the Officiant to be in the Address to you as a couple? Are you going to create your own Vows or use standard Vows? What do you have in mind for the Exchange of Rings Ceremony? Are there any other rituals you wish to incorporate – a Communion Service, Handfasting, The Rose Ceremony, The Blending of Sand, Circling the Table, The Honey Ceremony…. What type of Final Blessing would be appropriate? How do you wish to be introduced to the community at the Wedding Pronouncement?

With an investment of time, care and the right Marriage Officiant, you can create the wedding of your dreams. Don’t settle for anything less!