Why a wedding officiant is the most important person at your wedding
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Carrie McGill, I am a Wedding Officiant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am recently retired from a career of 35 years in Public Education; teacher and principal. About six years ago I went to a training to become a Celebrant; an officiant who leads Memorial Services for people wanting something other than a church/religious service. Then, after attending the wedding of a friend’s daughter last summer and witnessing her ceremony led by a wonderful officiant, I realized what I wanted to do was to be a part of people celebrating life-beginning to end. So, I started a business called Threads as an Officiant for Life Celebrations. I chose the name Threads because I believe celebrations are golden threads in the fabric of our lives. As a teacher, principal, neighbour, friend, and member of an extended family, I have grown personally from feeling a sense of belonging to a community. Weddings and Memorials are a great expression of how one fits into and are supported by their community.
How to find a good wedding officiant?
Have you ever been to a wedding where the best part was the food and dancing? Of course, because that is the fun part. But have you been to a wedding where during the ceremony you were awed by the expression of love and commitment and where you left feeling that you really knew the couple and understood exactly how they came to commit to being together for life? I think that is due to the work of a good officiant; one who has been a good listener and understands the profound commitment being made during a wedding ceremony that will last a lifetime afterwards. The first part I think is easy, look at all the wedding websites and search online for one in your area. Then, check out their specific website and see their gallery of photos and reviews. Because I am new to the business this part is limited on my website, which may be true for those you have found. So, when you find someone that seems like a good fit, give them a call.
I think that a voice to voice conversation, if not face to face, is the best way of knowing if the Officiant is right for you and what you are wanting in a wedding ceremony. Keep in touch with the Officiant you have selected so that over time they can get to know you and your partner more intimately. This can be done through emails quite easily. I think that sometimes the Officiant is not the first thing on the list of wedding planning. But, I will say, that Officiants who are good, get booked, so it might be an easy one to check off your the list earlier in your planning, also, it will give you both time to get to know one another.
"You are facing a couple, making a life commitment to one another, probably recognizing for the first time the profound promise they are making in front of their community of friends and family"
What is it like to officiate a wedding?
Officiating a wedding is very intimate. You are facing a couple, making a life commitment to one another, probably recognizing for the first time the profound promise they are making in front of their community of friends and family. It is especially important as the Officiant to be the calm presence to help the couple through the ceremony especially when there are tears.
Can a couple have a wedding without a marriage license?
Anyone can have a wedding ceremony without obtaining a marriage license, but you cannot legally marry in the United States without a license. Some people who are not able to legally marry, hold ceremonies, but U.S. law will not recognize the marriage.
Can a notary perform a wedding or marriage?
What I found out about a notary. The short answer is no, not unless they complete or “solemnize the rites of matrimony” within a ceremony. Some notaries assume that the only required action on their part is completing the marriage certificate; however, the marriage certificate is merely confirmation that the notary public (or whoever else is performing the service) has conducted the ceremony. A notary public is legally allowed to conduct a marriage ceremony in only three states: Florida, South Carolina and Maine – assuming he or she follows their respective state’s protocol.
A notary public is legally allowed to conduct a marriage ceremony in only three states: Florida, South Carolina and Maine – assuming he or she follows their respective state’s protocol.
How do you personalize a wedding?
Personalizing a wedding is my most important job. I ask questions about the individuals, how they met, what they love about one another including their differences. I ask that they write to me separately so that they can speak independently. If there are important members of their community that are unable to attend or anecdotes from others that they want to include, I ask that they send them to me to incorporate into the ceremony. This can include passages, poems, or prayers.
I recently officiated a wedding where there were only the bride and groom and two witnesses. All family members were from out of state and unable to attend. So, their words and thoughts were especially important not only for the ceremony but for the couple to hear the support and love they have, even if they were unable to physically be with them. I also encourage the couple to write their own vows to say to one another during the ceremony. I know in witnessing a wedding, this can be a very moving and memorable part of the ceremony.
If you could ask one thing of the grooms and brides that would make your job at their wedding easier, what would it be?
Three things I would ask the bride and groom to do that would make my job easier are;
- Stay in touch and have your written responses to my questions by the deadline so that I have time to write the ceremony accordingly.
- Bring your marriage license to the wedding.
- Sign the marriage license before taking pictures and visiting with your guests, sometimes, this can be a part of the ceremony itself before the couple is introduced as husband and wife.
What was the most memorable wedding you officiated?
Honestly, I have performed one wedding, so that would be one I will never forget my first. I have several others on the calendar and look forward to each. I am imagining though, like when I was a teacher, that though there were special years, each had their own uniqueness and standout qualities that made my work rewarding.
"Once the big screen TVs were turned off, the venue was perfect, as the room had one wall of large windows which kept us all warm and glowing in the sunlight"
Was there ever a time you had to improvise?
A small improvisation was made recently where a spring wedding, to be held in the town’s square, was moved due to high winds. Luckily, a lovely hotel across the street where the couple was staying opened up their small bar to us privately. Once the big screen TVs were turned off, the venue was perfect, as the room had one wall of large windows which kept us all warm and glowing in the sunlight.