Interview with Rev. Robin A. Hannon, a wedding officiant in Maryland
Welcome, Robin! Please introduce yourself and Abiding Love Weddings to our readers.
Hello! I am Robin Hannon of Abiding Love Wedding Officiant Services in Ellicott City, Maryland. I am a non-denominational wedding officiant that has been in this business since 2000. I have presided over religious, traditional, secular, and even theme weddings.
My time is your time, and I am not on the clock when it comes to making sure that our focus is on you. Therefore, taking care of you is the number one priority. I will be there with you to create vows that express your love and your journey, molding the ceremony into everything you wanted, needed, and expected it to be.
As a wedding officiant, I strive to be organized and efficient. Teamwork with my clients is an essential part of what I do. I am a very creative problem solver and think quickly and well no matter the situation. Whatever your faith or background, I will work with you and for you to create that perfect moment that you will remember for the rest of your life.
On a personal note, I am married, I have two daughters and four beautiful grandchildren. As well, I have one Italian Greyhound that I spoil to death. My hobbies include singing in my local choir, making jewelry, and reading.
How did you become a wedding officiant?
Becoming a wedding officiant fell into place for me when two of my friends wanted to be married and asked me to officiate. I had already studied and had received both my Bachelor and Master of Divinity, although at the time it wasn't clear what I wanted to do with that degree. I took it upon myself to look at many different wedding officiants that were online.
I studied to see how they ran their services, and what made them unique. I spent hours looking at different vows and their structure. After officiating at my first wedding, there was entirely no doubt in my mind that this was the path I needed to follow.
"If you ask me what I love most about my job, it's the honor of being a part of those love stories"
What I love most about my job is the personal connections with my clients. Those are treasures. If you ask me what I love most about my job, it's the honor of being a part of those love stories. It is this that brings me joy and continues to motivate me.
What are the typical services offered by a wedding officiant?
Wedding officiants vary as to services that they offer. In general, most will include a full formal ceremony, a rehearsal along with signing the license, and coordinating the flow of the service. Some offer celebrations that have no rehearsal for less, and as well a quickie ceremony for elopements.
In general, most will include a full formal ceremony, a rehearsal along with signing the license, and coordinating the flow of the service
What a couple pays tends to be determined by where they live. For example, fees in California, New York, and other cities might be higher than the ones in smaller towns. The best advice I can give is to look for a wedding officiant that is professional, polished, and well versed in what they do. In this case, you want the best person for your job. Your wedding is a once in a lifetime affair. Consider that wedding officiant cost should not be your priority. The right wedding officiant can make or break the most important day in your life.
Are there things that differentiate wedding officiants?
The first thing in differentiating between wedding officiants is to see how they communicate. During your interview, are they speaking about you, finding out about you, or in general focusing on you? Are they talking about themselves the entire time? Yes, there is a place and time to speak about oneself, but briefly. Any interview should focus on you, your needs, your desires, and what will they do for you. The right wedding officiant should be wholly engaged in your concerns.
Another tip is to check their reviews. Do they have pictures or videos of previous weddings? If possible always meet face to face with your wedding officiant candidate. Personal connections can tell you more about whether you feel comfortable or not, and if you want that person to represent you.
"One [wedding] was a Star Trek Wedding. They had me dress as a Vulcan."
How do couples come up with their vows?
Creating the perfect vows takes time and effort. It requires teamwork with my clients working to ensure that the ceremony reflects who they are, and their love story. I will send my clients a list of personal questions designed to help the process get started.
Some clients decide on readings or poetry in their vows. Sharing core values, universal themes, and hopes for the future also help to make the promises both unique and personal. In some of the theme weddings I have done, it is a shared interest. I usually will go back and forth with my clients perfecting their vows until they are delighted with the results.
What was the most memorable wedding you officiated?
I can think of three memorable weddings. The first wedding was of two older people who had been widowed and alone for many years. Their love was joyous, epic, and brought tears to everyone's eyes, even mine. It was an honor, and not to be cliché, but it just goes to show love is possible at any stage of life.
"Their love was joyous, epic, and brought tears to everyone's eyes, even mine"
The second and third weddings were theme-based weddings and were incredibly fun to do. One was a Star Trek Wedding. They had me dress as a Vulcan. I still have the picture. The third wedding was a football theme. My clients are avid Eagles fans. I knew less than nothing about football when I started, and my clients were more than helpful in providing the correct language. They dressed me in a Coach's uniform complete with a whistle. I spent a lot of time smiling and laughing together with my clients. Everyone had a wonderful time.
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
So far no, and I’ve been doing this since 2000, but there is always a first time for everything. I am usually very prepared, and there is no need to improvise. Should the need occur, I think very quickly on my feet. Before I became a Reverend, I did some work in musical theatre. One of the first things they teach you is improvisation. I am pretty sure those skills are still in the vault of my mind if needed.
Which portion of the process keeps you busy the most?
The entire process keeps me busy and takes up energy but in the right way. I would say the most power goes into first writing the vows. The day of the wedding requires a lot of energy. I get up early and typically get to the venue at least an hour before any ceremony.
"It can be chaotic, and I’m the one to bring calm and order into the energy before the wedding"
Often, I am helping set up, or checking with my clients to make sure all is well. I also set up my portable amp, and sound test it to make sure that is working. I check and recheck the vows, wedding officiant script, walk the wedding venue, and get a feel for where everyone will be. It can be chaotic, and I’m the one to bring calm and order into the energy before the wedding.
If you could ask one thing of the grooms and brides that would make your job at their wedding easier, what would it be?
My clients are usually very cooperative. If I were to ask anything it would be, please make your needs clear to me, communicate with me, let me know if there are any issues. It is this communication that will ensure a good result with your wedding officiant.