So many times I hear the words, “We just want a simple ceremony.”, or “We just want a traditional ceremony.” Long before I get the phone call from a couple, I have been working on that simple ceremony in ways they don’t realize. First, there is the ability to be found. Advertising, networking, building up and paying for my website, working on certifications, taking classes, learning about new rituals and ideas for ceremonies are all ways of improving my business and how I operate.
Every wedding takes more than 15 minutes. Many times a call from a new client can take that long. How about the hours of research, preparation time, venue site reviews, referrals, state licensing, vendor meetings, client meetings, bridal shows, literature and business card creations, thank you gifts, ministerial robes, mileage, PA system maintenance, professional association dues, just to name a few of the many considerations to take into account .
OK, so even a simple ”canned” wedding ceremony requires time to prepare, adding in the names of the bride and groom, printing it off, ensuring there is enough ink for the printer and paper. Binding the printed copy for the ceremony is critical. This keeps it together so it is easily used during the ceremony and so the bride and groom have a keepsake copy. Then there is preparing myself, shower and time to dress and groom properly. Pulling together any necessary items like my bridal emergency kit, the lapel microphone, sound system; travel time to the site or venue; gas and auto expenses, making sure I have my cell phone, ink pen and stamps and any special requirements.
When Officiating the ceremony, the words and names need to be pronounced properly, rituals conducted, discussing cues for music with the dj, proper placement of the bridal party with the coordinator and ensuring the photographer doesn’t block the view of the groom ensuring the ceremony goes off without a hitch. I need to help the bride and groom get through the ceremony, giving everyone cues as to when to do what, almost like a director or conductor. Following the ceremony, accepting accolades from the audience, handing out business cards, gathering up any items that were left behind by the bride and groom, signing the license and mailing off the official copy to the state.
That doesn’t even take into consideration experience, expertise, advice, patience, professionalism, adaptability, showmanship, flexibility and caring for myself, you know exercise, water, bathroom breaks, food, clothing and so forth.
If you add up all the real time, equipment and effort invested, you might find as I have that many small or office weddings are performed at about or below minimum wage.
Even with the ceremonies that are not custom made there is the issue of the delivery. I have seen Officiants who have no public speaking skills, no social skills and no writing skills. As a public speaker and former professional vocalist, I know how to project my voice. I know how to instill feeling into my words. I have done a great deal of public speaking and feel very calm and confident in front of people.
Couples are not just paying for 15 minutes of time; they are paying for the highlight and focus of their wedding day. So, please understand that when I ask you for payment, there is much more than 15 minutes involved…there are years of experience, education and personal sacrifice that go into your ceremony.
If you want wedding day peace of mind, a ceremony that is unique, personalized and special, then consider hiring an officiant who cares about you and your ceremony and is willing to spend more than 15 minutes of their time to put it together.