Not every wedding needs to be highly customized. But you will build YOUR confidence when you customize. Plus you’ll discover your couples are more satisfied when you add some of your own flare and personality to the ceremony.
AND in a crazy easy way, make their ceremony unique to them.
Island time is code for don’t get yourself in a tizzy
When you’re on the receiving end of this statement it means you’re dealing with someone who is time-challenged. He or she looks at the clock and the hands tell him or her the time they want it to be. Not the time it actually is!
If you’ve ever visited the Caribbean you’ve probably heard the expression, “island time”.
For the non-time challenged, this expression is code for “being late for an event is just how things are here in the islands. Chill. Have a Dos Equis or Corona.”
When I lived in Puerto Rico for 8 months, there were some folks who were known for being days, not just hours, (I kid you not) — but DAYS late.
The tizzy part? I didn’t do so well in that department.
Maybe it’s because I’m the daughter of a man who regularly showed up early for an event. Yes EARLY.
My mother was pretty much always on time. Dressed to the t’s and with a casserole in hand.
The early bird genes
No early bird genes were passed on to me from either side of the family. I’m the one who’s the most time-challenged in my family.
I’m the one who’s squandered the family punctuality genes. Yes, me, the one offering the good advice in this post.
You might assume I’d be more understanding of a bride who’s an hour late to her wedding.
Not too long ago on my way to officiate a local ceremony, the traffic was so horrible I called the groom. Just to be on the safe-side. “ I’ll still be there on time,” I told him. “Just not as ahead of time as I like.”
“Don’t worry,” he told me. “We’re really behind too.”
A red flag popped up somewhere. “How behind?” I asked him.
“About 15 minutes,” he laughed. He sounded stressed.
“No worries,” I told him. “I’ll get there and check everything out. We’ll just wait.”
When I found the correct location, there were about 20 people standing around. I drifted through the crowd and sat down to go over the ceremony.
When I looked up, it was 15 minutes past the hour the ceremony was scheduled to take place.
I sent a text to the bride. “Where are you at?”
“We’re 5 minutes away,” she said.
I shucked and jived with some guests who were rolling their eyes and looking at their watches.
Eight minutes later I sent another text. “What’s up?” I asked.
Curious, I asked one of the bride’s friends, “Is being late normal for her?”
“Oh yes, she runs late a lot,” chuckled a guy who was wearing a black shirt with big red flames rising from the hem. He turned out to be her Dad.
“Did you start that with her?” I joked with him. “Were you always late when she was a kid?”
He shook his head yes and I chided him, “See what you started? You made her this way! It’s all your fault!” He laughed and joked back about how he knew he was a bad role model.
Making the choice
At that point I had a choice to make. Wait for the bride from her fortress on her island of time-challenges.
Or set a limit.
Because I’ve been in this situation before and truly, I’m better at managing my tizziness, I chose the latter. Limits were on their way.
The importance of telling the truth
What bothered me the most was that the bride was not telling the truth when she said she was 5 minutes away. I get that she may have been embarrassed or didn’t want to get scolded for being late. She’d probably been scolded plenty in her time-challenged life.
But she had to expect being scolded. Everyone has something to do, somewhere to be.
The truth was, she hadn’t even left her house yet, which was about 10 minutes away. So she was lying. That kind of stuff REALLY bothers me I don’t care what the occasion.
Whether she was nervous, a bad planner, had too many distractions, these are all and none valid reasons for being late to her own wedding. If instead she’d come clean, and been truthful, I might have read another page of the Mueller Report while I waited.
I chose to text her instead. “How are you coming? Getting closer?”
“Almost there,” she said.
“Good,” I said. “Because I have to leave at noon.”
I felt through the ethers that boundaries weren’t something she had to contend with often. People just allowed her to operate on Island time.
But something in her kicked into high gear. I could feel it.
Making good on a threat
Honestly I hoped I wouldn’t have to make good on my threat. I took a few moments to imagine myself walking away. It didn’t feel good but I decided I would trot my body out of there if I had to. The couple could come to my house and I’d officiate for them there later. They could still party and have a good time talking about what an awful a person I was.
Giving her these parameters wasn’t meant to be mean, but to make the point that other people’s time is part of the equation at any event. Agreements are agreements. Whether you’re on the mainland or an island.
And in 10 more minutes they showed up with 5 more minutes to spare.
Why was I there?
I was hired to do a job, and provide a valuable service. That’s why I was there with all the people I didn’t know who were tapping their foot, looking at their watches. I was not there to wait around for her to get her act together.
Although this was her and her fiancé’s day it was NOT the best of times to keep everyone waiting. As much as I didn’t want her wedding day to be marred by the boundaries I’d set if the worse case scenario unfolded, waiting an hour for a wedding to start is too much in my book.
The Pagan Initiation
A zillion years ago when I first started doing weddings, I officiated a ceremony for people who identified themselves pagans. I’m up for the unique so I was eager to officiate.
The ceremony itself was way out in the country. There must have been 100 people waiting for the event to begin. It was muggy.
I overheard someone in a group of friends mention how she was always horribly late (aka time-challenged) and you just had to put up with it if you wanted to be her friend.
After an hour, even the people-pleaser in me had had enough. I asked a few people where the bride was. Someone guessed she was having trouble with her dress. On the second floor of the farmhouse.
I sought her out to see if I could help. What I found was she and her bridesmaids lounging in the bridal room drinking beer.
The dress was fine.
“If you’re not at the altar in 10 minutes, I’m leaving.”
She was. I officiated. The groom apologized and I felt bad for the lifetime ahead of him.
Being late is an unconscious method of controlling others
But that’s just me. I don’t like late late late. It makes me feel like someone is trying to control me and tell me they’re more important than I am.
I believe we’re equals. And deserve equal respect.
So you have to decide how long you’ll wait for a late bride or groom.
Aunt Mary is running late
You also have to be prepared to make a recommendation of how long to wait for a guest who’s important and is “running late.”
Some couples want to wait for 20 minutes for a treasured aunt who’s always late. Or someone who says they got lost.
In the meantime there’s 50-100 people waiting for that one person. The new star of the day…
That’s not okay with me. Honor the people who are there on time. Let Aunt Mary watch the video.
TO DO: Clarity in the contract
I’ve learned now to put in my contract that any wedding that starts more than ½ an hour late, a fee of $25 for each 15 minutes afterwards will be charged. After and hour has gone by, I’m going bye-bye.
The time-challenged have taught me well.
Be clear up front, and make your clients sign on the dotted line that they’ve read and understood the stipulation about time. Doing so is a good practice.
Beyond that, although every situation may be different, check out the Checklist I created that details how to identify and work with the following reasons island time has been invoked.
When your couple is time-challenged, you’re looking at
The world’s made up of all kinds of people. Some are chronically late, others like my dad are early.
It’s up to you what you want to do. But make sure you don’t resent your couple later because they should have done better. If you’d been clear up front, could the situation have been improved?
Spell out what you’re able to do and what crosses the line.
That way you can focus on love, on joy and happiness. and on feeling you are respected for all you bring to a couple’s very special day, even those who are time-challenged and deeply in love.
If you haven’t joined my private Facebook Group, please do! In the group, you can catch Facebook Live tips and techniques, offers for the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Program (RWA), connect with other officiants and share your wisdom. Or ask for ideas. We’d love to see your face in the group!
At first I didn’t say anything. I was watching every “that’s impossible” thought in my head come charging to the surface. ‘He’s gotta be kidding. He couldn’t possibly know what the market is like — all the competition!’
What Would You Tell Him You Charge for Your Services?
Tell me — what would YOUR “that’s impossible” remarks have been?
The man on the other end of the phone was a person who’d built businesses, repaired businesses and flipped all kinds of companies. And he’d found me, I didn’t go looking for him. He wanted to learn to be an Officiant. But what he was saying was a challenge to my own beliefs about WHAT AN OFFICIANT CAN CHARGE for her or his services.
His Reasoning about What to Charge for Services
“A couple is putting a huge amount of time, resources and energy into their wedding day,” he explained (and I’m paraphrasing here because yes, I was driving and talking on the phone. My bad…), “so why not charge $2000 considering all the different options, services and bonuses you provide them?”
Which is true. I didn’t raise my prices until I found unique ways to add value. The ceremony my couples get, their results, are worth the fee. Plus guests regularly and even predictably go gaga for the ceremony that gets created for the couple.
One of the lowest paid on a wedding team
“But I just don’t find those kinds of people coming to me, “I explained back. “Officiants are one of the lowest paid of all the wedding professionals.” I took note of the poster of the Henry Ford quote that started to flash in my mind, “Argue for your limitations and they’re yours”. “But I do charge more than most people in my area.”
My fees aren’t all that cheap, unlike many other officiants. I’ve seen what they charge. NOT MUCH. I felt a bit defensive. It’s not as if I don’t value my services AT ALL…
Whether the conversation I continued to have with him was a curiosity call, a sales pitch from me to him or him to me, the internal dialogue I was having felt far more important.
Thank you, sir, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, for nothing other than challenging my own assumptions.
Because yes, I do have a higher charge for my services. And I also provide more services than what so many ask for at first — a short and sweet ceremony.
The couple that requests short and sweet relays this request as if they don’t want to ask too much for themselves, either. Probably, they have little sense of what kind of magic can be infused into a ceremony by a skilled Officiant.
Chances are if you’re that Officiant would you be reluctant to value and accordingly highly charge for your services?
Or are you a real deal? And why? Why should you be the deal?
Requests for Short and Sweet
Other times it also feels like a short and sweet ceremony is the quickest and least painless entrance fee they have to pay in order to be ushered with their guests into the big bash party afterwards.
The food. The drink. The flirting. The parent child dances that make the older folk cry and the younger folk wish they’d hurry up and make way for the REAL dancin’.
All that money, all that time finally taking shape and form with or without a ceremony that was out of the ordinary. Solemnizing a marriage may have been sweet, or short, or deep and engaging. Light-hearted and witty.
Whatever tone the ceremony takes, it should be an effective beginning to the day a community comes together and lets the couple know, “We have your back and we believe in you.”
I can’t claim that every ceremony is going to be touched with magic, that everyone will be amazed, inspired, captured by the couple’s love story that I’ve put into words for them.
Here’s the continuing dialogue I’m inviting you to participate in with me. Why DO officiants have such a hard time charging a fee that truly demands attention and respect? That reflects the value of what the power of a ceremony is?
And results in a memory that will be theirs forever.
I’m asking you, my fellow officiants, what factors makes us reluctant to charge money for a service for such an important life event?
We don’t have to be charging $2000 but why do so many only charge $50 to $100 and feel unsure about even charging that much?
What would your conversation be if the man who called me, called you? What would you WANT to tell him you charge for your services and what you ACTUALLY charge for your services?
Let me know. I’m curious.
To the best inner and outer dialogues between all of us.
Rev. Crystal Y
Contact Me to continue the conversation. Or please apply to join the private and fabulous Facebook Group @IDOWedPrep.
Jump in on the ongoing conversations, or start your own.
How to build your referral network with simple social and networking hacks even if you don’t know what “hack” means (tricks and methods to get results). You can get more bookings with these simple methods that are at your fingertips.
With permission, post engagement photos of your couple using any hashtags they may have
Ask the couple for the contact info and websites of the other vendors who are part of the wedding team
Post a rehearsal picture of the couple from your perspective
Take a photo of the wedding site from your perspective on the day of the wedding
Take a photo of your couple after the ceremony
Get business cards of the other vendors
See if the photographer can provide a photo of you officiating. Get permission to post on your social media and / or website.
Post photo and congratulate the couple
Give obvious credit to the photographer first
List the contact info for the entire team who contributed to the success of their wedding day
Post your posts two or three more times at different times of day, and on different days
If you have a website, be sure to include all info about other wedding professionals on your post.
Ask if other professionals will put your contact info on any posts they have about the wedding you all participated in together.
Get more information or to introduce your wondrous self to the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Program, Contact Us or visit RWA Program.
Hacks for the Unhacky Officiant, Part 1
Here’s how to build your referral network with simple social media and networking hacks even if you don’t know what “hack” means (tricks and methods to get results). You can get more bookings with these simple methods that are at your fingertips.
(Download link below).
With Wedding Professionals and Business Contacts
Arrange to meet in person, by appointment with venue coordinator, head of photography, DJ, caterer, florist, or wedding planner.
Research their website or Social Media pages to get an idea of what they’ve been up to, who they are and anything they’ve done lately. Be knowledgeable when you meet!
Offer your card with a small gift like a few fresh baked cookies, muffins, fresh fruit or anything that’s small and notable. Nothing fancy or it’ll seem like you’re trying to bribe them. Do NOT leave a calendar. (Oh lordy mama hug me now if I get one more calendar).
Ask for your Contact’s:
Facebook @ address or link
Instagram address or # (hashtag)
Google For Business link
5. Are they on any big wedding websites like Wedding Wire or The Knot?
6. Email address and direct phone number
How do they prefer to be contacted
What hours do they prefer to be contacted
7. Ask your Contact, “What can I post on my FB page and social that’s most helpful to you?”
8. Take a selfie with your Contact. Smile, please! Even get goofy if you dare. 😉
9. Make a little video of a part of the tour of your Contact’s business and post (watch for too jiggly a video)
10. Post your video or selfie to your FB page or website within a day of your visit or your event
Be sure to tag your Contact
Include contact info for your Contact on your post (see photo>>>>)
11. Does your Contact or their business have a blog?
Could you be a guest blogger or would they like to guest blog on your website?
Can they post your contact info on their Social media and / or Instastory?
12. Request to be on their Preferred Vendor’s List
13. Create your own Vendor’s List and ask if they’d like to be listed (they’ll say yes!)
14. If your Contact is on a wedding website, ask them if they’ll recommend your services in exchange for recommending their services
You can put “As reviewed/seen in Wedding Wire” etc., on website or social media
Give these hacks a try. You’ll see changes sooner than later in your bookings.
We’d love to help you succeed as an Officiant, have more fun, get things done more easily, and set yourself a firm foundation to create a generous source of extra income for yourself. Contact Us through our easy, most enjoyable form or visit the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Program page.
It’s been a pleasure and a joy.
Contact me for more information on how our simple, straight forward, practical program to prepare new officiants and inspire experienced officiants can help you.
How to build your referral network with simple social and networking hacks even if you don’t know what “hack” means (tricks and methods to get results). You can get more bookings with these simple methods that are at your fingertips.
At rehearsal, ask the attendants if they’d like to get special information about relationships. Get their email address and make sure they know what email address they’ll receive notice from you.
Deliver easy to read blogs, simple quotes, podcast suggestions or Ted talks to inspire AND stay in touch with them. You never know who may be getting married next!
Send an email to the vendors, couple and contacts, thanking them for being part of the wedding team. If applicable, include link where you posted their info and repeat your request to be referenced in any of their posts.
Create a sharable doc of a few short reviews, some fun pics and a video clip of an event. Include this in the information you send to potential clients.
Create a one paragraph email to send weekly to your professional contacts, and wedding couples. Poetry, gifs, something quick and unobtrusive. People get lots of email but you can be a contact who’s fun and engaging.
Learn about marketing. For a list of recommended podcasts for wedding officiants and online marketing, click here.
I hope you enjoyed this 3 part series. For more information about the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Program that gives you resources you can use to mentor other officiants or provide to your couple, PLUS get great resources or yourself, visit the RWA Program.
Contact Us through our easy to fill out form. Let us know how we can help you get the training and inspiration that will help you create and deliver wedding ceremonies that make a difference. Check out the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Program, an 8 part online course full of valuable and sharable resources, inspiration and hacks, hacks, hacks.
When I’m at a wedding and the officiant launches into a service I’ve heard before, (Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today to honor and celebrate these two people as they dedicate their lives to one another etc., etc.) it doesn’t take long for me to zone out and begin to appreciate the trees outside the window, or the flowers on the altar.
Seeing people zoning out at a wedding you’re leading is every officiants’ nightmare.
Today, we have a lot more freedom to be creative and vamp here and there. But if you’re a new officiant or considering becoming one you might not know where to start. For example, you may wonder —
Do I speak extemporaneously or use a script?
Do I introduce myself or not– and what do I call myself?
Where should I insert that piece of my couple’s history into their ceremony?
How do I lead a prayer?
Is it okay to be funny?
The groom’s mom is being really bossy — how do I handle that?
Let’s look at the first bullet point
Some training sources are against using pre-made ceremonies. Some make cutting and pasting from several sources a sign that the officiant isn’t worth their weight in gold (wrong-you’re always worth it!) At least that’s what I thought. Just today my inbox revealed that the biggest critic of “cookie cutter” ceremonies was also trying to sell new officiants his cookie cutter ceremonies.
Everyone needs training wheels, which using a pre-made wedding ceremony is – words and sentiments that you like and begin to use as your framework ceremony. It’s the place you start so you can continue on with the process of finding your own voice.
Over time, you will refine your words. Meanwhile, with the big important wedding coming up on your horizon, how do you know if you’ll strike the right tone with your couple? What’s appropriate and what’s not?
And how do you lead the couple in their vows? What do you do after they exchange their rings? Should you pray or not?
So you might not only have questions about content and delivery, you’re not sure what’s appropriate and what’s not. I get it!
I used straight out of the box denomination recommended ceremonies when I first started. There’s some threads of them left in the ceremony I use to this day. But my ceremony has evolved but it’s taken years of cutting and pasting. I’ve tweaked and been inspired over the past 29 years. It was time-consuming, especially when I had a full-time job.
But I also had training. I was prepared with a set of questions to ask as couple, and I also had help deciding what was appropriate and what wasn’t. I was in ministerial school and my teachers and fellow students were there to help me.
Is an Officiant Mentor for you?
So I can tell you, it can make a world of difference to bounce ideas off of and to give informed, constructive feedback. A mentor can be a HUGE help. An officiant mentor could be exactly who could help YOU!
PLUS not spending all your free time researching and gathering information is a great help. Or having to be in school for two years to learn how to do all those minister type things!
The question is—could you use some pointers to put your ceremony together? Do you want to find out how to get different kinds of information about your couple to make part of the awesome ceremony you have been asked or hired to deliver?
One of the things that really stood in my way was the preconceived notions I had of what was expected. Get those out of the way and you are much further ahead finding your voice and meeting your couple’s needs. Interested?
Download the 5 Mistakes New Officiants Make and you’ll have in hand some important “don’t need to do’s. Once you look this over you can get on with the important business of finding the right resources and crafting a ceremony from all the millions that are available on the internet.
Really? Is that what you want to spend your time doing?
Or you could find an officiant mentor who will give you the benefit of their years of expertise making couples happy and successfully leading wedding ceremonies of all kinds.
Contact us today and let’s see how much easier and better a time you can have as an officiant. Know what you are doing before you do it!
Call today and we’ll talk over how you can go from beginner to better to best officiant ever!
Those of us at How To Marry ‘Em Mentoring at I DO, Wedding Officiant Training will listen, advise, and help you bring out not only the best in yourself, but in your couples too. Check out this bit of advice from an officiant mentor.
We offer a straightforward ceremony creation and officiant mentor coaching service.
Inspire and Celebrate — A Wedding Address can do THAT?
Your wedding address is an opportunity to inspire, engage and entertain your couple AND their guests. Many officiants know this is possible through our Wedding Address. You know what I mean by Wedding Address? The WA is the words we say about love, marriage, and our couple’s love story.
So how do we use this opportunity without being preachy or sounding overbearing? We don’t want people to fall asleep or look everywhere but at the couple and you, right?
The goal is to be the best officiant you can be:
Engaging. Effective. Enjoyable.
The Spiritual Element
There’s a spiritual element to being an officiant that is super important. Here you have all these people, even if it’s just 3 or 4, that bring energy to this awesome event in a couple’s life. This gathering engages the principle JC talked about here, “When two or more are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them”. This principle of bringing so many people together at the same time has bearing on what happens in a wedding ceremony.
Not about Religion, so Hang On
Don’t get wompy on me if you aren’t religious. I know I’m quoting Jesus a lot here. This isn’t about the religion of Jesus. It’s about relevance and connection. So please, keep reading.
“Gathered in my name” doesn’t have to be about Jesus. Jesus was a manifestation of love (“God/The Father and I are One”) in a time when no one else knew what the heck that meant or who every woman, child and man really was – Marvelously Created.
Knowing the Quantum Connection
Jesus was someone who knew his connection with his higher self or God. The creator of the Universe! So “two or more gathered in my name” is a group of people gathered together in the name of love, of knowing the deepest connection and reality of all.
Isn’t that what a wedding is? People gathered in the name of love? (Okay, good food, drinks and rock ‘n rolling too). Dancing within the quantum field of creation. (I apologize to any physicists for my clumsy reference of the quantum field who may be reading this.)
Adding the Woo
To add a bit of Woo (I LOVE this word Woo) – the spiritual element or principle that sets the law of attraction into motion CONSCIOUSLY is this: Woo and you is how YOU as the officiant hold the space for Love to kick into high gear. Your officiant skills are engaged so the couple’s love is served and honored during the ceremony by calling it out from the git go of meeting your couple and preparing the ceremony.
This is the first level of adding the Woo factor to a wedding ceremony.
First To Do’s
To add the Woo factor to your wedding ceremony you gotta become the Woo. There’s so many ways of doing this, gang, so here’s my goal: to encourage you to use the law of attraction consciously and let it help you tap into the wisdom and wonder that’s within you. To make life easier for you. It just takes practice.
So here’s a way to begin:
Before you meet with and interview your couple, ask your Higher Self (call it Jesus if you want) to connect with the couple’s higher selves.
Close your eyes and affirm or pray for this guidance, whichever resonates with you. This is what I usually do and please — put it into your own words.
I ask for the spirit of the love that has brought the couple together to inspire the way I put their ceremony together.
I ask that the couple be led to reveal to me what will bring the greatest meaning and joy to their ceremony.
When I sit down to put together all the elements I’ve collected to create their ceremony, I ask for the Love that’s greater than what they now know to help me …
Construct the ceremony that will be the most fun
Infuse the ceremony with the joy that’s brought them together and will keep them together
Inspire the ceremony with the words and elements that will truly please, satisfy and delight the couple and their guests.
Do these three things and you’ll begin to center yourself in the spiritual essence of what has led you to be an officiant in the first place. Your inner self knows what you can gain by being an even more wonderful officiant. This inner Woo is what connects you to the Love that’s brought your couple together.
The Course of course
One of the things the Ready, Willing and Able Officiant Prep Course does is provide a whole session of affirmations, prayer and self-care meditation. They’re in written form and audio. Both are designed for the religiously or spiritually directed. This segment of the program helps you get into the Woo state of mind so you meet more successfully with your couples.
Plus create and deliver the ceremony that sets you out as an engaged, effective and enjoyable officiant. Unforgettable.
To check out the RWA program, follow this link. It’s affordable, you can take it at your own pace, and it’s fully delivered right to your inbox.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Adding Woo And You To A WeddingMakes a Wonderful Ceremony for all.