Post # 1
Neither my fiance and I are religious, and our religious backgrounds are different, so we’re looking for an officiant to perform the ceremony.
I just got off the phone with a retired judge and feel a bit down…. His tone was that I was asking for too much. When speaking with him, he didn’t sound like a good speaker or excited about performing. I asked him if
- could the ceremony be customized?
- what part of the ceremony does he enjoy the most?
- if he could provide a couple of references?
His response to my last question was. ..I think you should find someone else for yourself and a wedding planner. They can take care of all the details for you. I think your guests will appreciate a shorter ceremony. If you’re still interested in having me perform your ceremony, contact me.
I wasn’t taken aback. Not by the tone of his voice, but the actual words. We were thinking of having a 20-30 minute ceremony…is that too long? I think any couple would want to make their ceremony special.
Are any of those questions out of line? Is the question about references too much? We don’t know anything about the officiant so thought other people’s input would be nice. Or should I just base the decision on my gut feel?
Thanks for letting me vent
Post # 3
- Wedding: August 2009 - Bernardo Winery
I’ve been to a few hour long ceremonies before, those ceremonies were Catholic and a lot of the time was taken up by songs and prayers. So, I don’t 20-30mins is that long at all.
I’m sure your guests would appreciate a shortish ceremony, but this is also your wedding and the most important part of the day.
I don’t think the references question is out of line, but I would be tempted to find an officiate based on a reference from the get go. I see that you’re in Chicago, I would recommend posting on the Chicago Local board for recommendations 🙂
Post # 4
Hmm, that is strange. I don’t think you are asking too much! I could understand if he didn’t have a quick answer to question #2.
When I contacted my officiant, he was telling us all kinds of things about customizing our ceremony and etc. Not to make a blanket statement, but (this kind of sounds like it anyway) it’s possible that a judge doesn’t see officiating weddings as the most important part of their job.
So, yeah, get some recommendations for officiants who are more excited about doing what you want. Good luck and keep trying, you’ll find someone!
Post # 5
Maybe he just doesn’t want to do it? I mean, maybe he just doesn’t want to change what he normally does?
Honestly, I would find someone else. It sounds like he doesn’t give a crap what you want. Your questions were simple and honest, and I’d imagine normal questions people would ask.
BTW- our ceremony is abut 20-30 mins long, and we shortened it!
Post # 6
Agreed with teh others, look for another officiant!! There are so many out there that truly enjoy performing weddings so I am sure you can find someone better — I think your questions are good and definitely reasonable. You should post in the local Chicago board by clicking here!
Post # 7
I initially talked to a federal judge who is an acquaintance of my mom’s (his mom is a friend of my mom’s) about doing our wedding. He was almost exactly the same – very off-putting, and not at all interested in doing a customized type of ceremony. He told me straight out that he does a standard civil ceremony, and if we were interested in something other than that, we might want to work with someone else.
In retrospect, I think he really wasn’t that interested in doing our wedding. A federal judge has a really busy schedule, and I think that he just doesn’t really consider it part of his job to spend his evening and weekends with engaged couples. Whereas a member of the clergy, or other paid officiant, does think that’s part of their job.
Our officient was a retired Protestant minister (I was raised Catholic, and DH is a Christmas and Easter Lutheran), and he did a wonderful job for us. Plus he gave us the whole pre-marital counseling series, which we actually really enjoyed. A big advantage of the counseling is that the officiant really gets to know you, your values, and your background, and he designed a wonderful service for us with only a little input from us – we suggested some readings, and reviewed and edited his final edition, and that’s all. There is no way the judge would have spent enough time with us to really know us, so in the end I’m really glad that we found the officiant we did. And, in keeping with our wishes, the service was just religeous enough to make our families happy, and not so religeous that either one of us thought it was too much.
Post # 8
Suzzano — how did you find this officiant? Just lots of googling? Or did another bride give you his information? Just trying to find the best way to do this search.
Post # 9
Definitely look for someone else! Our justice of the peace has been so accommodating in helping us customize our ceremony, because we really want it to be personal. He wants to make it special for us and reflective of us as a couple. The ceremony should be 20-30 minutes, not at all out of the ordinary! Good luck!
Post # 10
FYI, we talked to 4 different officiants before we found the one we used. I don’t think that you’re unreasonable, or that what you’re going through is unusual. If you really want to feel a connection with your officiant, and you want them to know you, and you want a ceremony that means something special to you, then you’re likely going to have to work to find someone. (Seriously – a lot of brides, and a lot of them are my friends – don’t really care that much. They are just looking for a standard religeous or civil service, and they use whichever officiant their church makes available. Not that there is anything wrong with that.)
I do think that maybe asking for references is non-standard, unless you’re going with a professional officiant. I don’t think I would have thought to ask the pastor that we used for references. We met with him for an hour, and read transcripts of several services he had done (which he sent home with us) and after that we were pretty convinced he was the right one for us. So basically we interviewed him. I would think that you should do the same – and that anyone who won’t sit down for an hour with you just to discuss what you want is probably not someone you want to consider anyway. I know it seems like it shouldn’t be that hard – but since you really want someone that connects with you it probably will take a few tries before you find the right person. Keep trying, and I’m sure you will find it was worth it in the end.
Post # 11
I’m throwing in with the "You are definately not asking too much" team – you deserve the wedding of your dreams!
I’m a non-denominational minister and as far as I’m concerned the more questions a couple has the better. The more you talk with your officiant the happier you are going to be with the final outcome. A personal, moving, emotional, wonderful, special ceremony doesn’t come out of a book – it comes from the love and care of the amazing couple who are allowing me to be part of one of the most amazing days of their lives.
You deserve better from your officiant – don’t settle!
Post # 12
You should just google wedding officiants – from some other posts it sounds like maybe a judge isn’t the way to go. Our officiant is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister, and he was totally open to do a typical Christian wedding, mixing in different elements, or doing whatever we wanted! And in our first meeting he let us know a lot about him and why he liked doing weddings and what he liked about them.
So, just keep looking! What you want is definitely out there.
Post # 13
You definitely ARE NOT asking too much. I think you should look into other options. We are both Catholic, but decided for a number of reasons to get married outside the church, which means that we can’t have a catholic ceremony. I did some research and found an officiant that seemed like she would be a great fit. While it will technically be a "non denominational" ceremony, she will incorporate our beliefs. We met with her a few weeks ago and she spent several hours asking us questions and getting to know us. She took a lot of time to find out about our families and how to make our ceremony uniquely ours. I am confident that she will put together a wonderful ceremony, and you should feel the same way after meeting with your officiant. Do NOT settle!!
Post # 14
Definitely do some homework and search around for the best person for the job. I had called the courthouse and they gave me a list of names who could perform our outdoor non-religious ceremony. I met with the first guy on the list. He was really nice and sounded like he knew what he was doing so I hired him. The main reason why I chose him was because he was super cheap, I found out later that you get what you pay for. I gave him a word for word copy of the ceremony I had put together and he said it was similar to what he has done in the past and didn’t seem to have any problems with it. I gave that to him six months before the wedding and emailed him a final copy when he changed a few things. We met with him again a week before the wedding to go over final details. He didn’t come to the rehearsal because he said he was busy and didn’t show up to the wedding until 4:55 for my 5 o’clock ceremony. I was freaking out so bad while trying to call him on the phone. He showed up looking like a used car salesman in khaki pants and black leather jacket. I was kind of upset about that but the worst was the actual ceremony. He totally botched it!! He acted like he had never seen that piece of paper he was attempting to read from and would just adlib crap in whenever he got lost. He even held up our rings and said to everyone, "This rings are awesome, you should see these. Come up later and take some pictures of them" OMG!! I was so embarrassed and upset. I literally almost told him to skip to the I DO’s whenever it started to sprinkle. He made my 25 minute ceremony take 45 minutes. I would definitely NEVER EVER recommend him to anyone. Sorry, I just vent whenever I think back to it, so my advice is DO SOME RESEARCH and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Post # 15
It will take a little effort and research to find an experienced officiant that will take the time to work with you. Look on wedding web sites for ministers in your area. Some of the ideas a wedding officiant may help with is personalizing your vows, handfasting, oathing stones, candle or sand ceremonies. You may consider a silent prayer of or a rose exchange. A good officiant can help you plan your ceremony as much as a wedding planner does your reception. Best of luck!!!
Post # 16
Hi Everyone, thanks so much for your supportive comments. I was so crushed after talking to that judge.
However, there’s good news. I found a wonderful officiant. She was just recently ordained because her friends had asked her to perform their ceremony (what an honor!). Though she’s inexperienced, we had a connection and she’s eager to help us customize the ceremony. Plus, when I asked her about her fee, her answer was whatever we can contribute since the entire amount would go towards her fundraising for the three-day breast cancer walk. (My mother is a breast cancer survivor so this really touched me).
I feel really lucky to have found her.
Thanks again for your comments!