2/16 {Real Bride: Emily} Talking Wedding Officiants With The WeddingWoman!

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When John and I began our wedding planning journey, we didn’t really have strong feelings about who we should have officiate our wedding. I was raised in a very conservative, regular church-going family, but after high school, I kind of decided that that wasn’t really my thing. So we had no family minister or favorite pastor, and we both knew we didn’t want our wedding ceremony to be too uh, “Jesus-ey”. But one thing people who have never planned a wedding or paid attention to the finer details of other people’s wedding planning probably don’t realize is that there are lots of people who are “professional wedding officiants”.

My wedding officiant, Rev. Brenda Owen, aka “The WeddingWoman”, actually found ME, via this blogging gig! She saw I was a North GA bride, and gave me a shout-out on Facebook. I tossed her a few questions to answer for the benefit of The Broke-Ass Brigade. First, I asked her to differentiate between a wedding officiant and your average pastor/preacher/priest/yogi/etc: “A professional officiant ‘specializes’ in the ceremony only. They write and perform wedding ceremonies and some (like me) direct rehearsals.  A religious official is a person in a clergy or Holy Order who has authority over formal religious leadership and they take care of the ritual aspects of the religious life.  They teach and otherwise help in spreading the religion’s doctrine and practices as in the public worship of God.”

As you might expect, wedding officiants are pros – they don’t unite you in holy matrimony for free – but a good wedding officiant won’t mispronounce your names, stutter, mumble through the ceremony, or commit other such humorous wedding blunders, a la THIS GUY. So how do professional officiants compare, price-wise? “It is generally thought that if you book a local pastor to perform the ceremony they are less expensive because the church is paying their salary.” says Brenda. “Some supplement their income by performing weddings, others ask for a donation for the church.” John and I aren’t affiliated with a church, and supplying a donation to a random religious organization, without any knowledge of where or how it would be used, just wasn’t our style. So of course, a wedding officiant was an obvious choice for us. (Also, Brenda’s rates were VERY reasonable, and she’s extremely well reviewed on the interwebs! FYI!)

So what might two religiously ambiguous schmos like John and I do to kill time during our wedding ceremony? Brenda was amazingly helpful in this regard – she gave us a questionnaire to a assess what we wanted out of our ceremony, as well as a laundry list of unity rituals and customs we could choose from, if we so desired. Our cross-country moving craziness prevented us from being able to meet with Brenda in person as much as we would’ve liked – which Brenda insists is an essential part of the professional officiant experience. “I feel it is important for me to meet with ‘my couples’ that are having a formal wedding whenever possible…so that we can become acquainted and ‘bond’.  It allows them to get to know me before their wedding and an opportunity for me to ask more personal questions about their relationship so that I can personalize their ceremony and write one based on what they want, and their personalities.”

We went with a semi-religious ceremony, peppered with the occasional mention of higher power, with a short prayer to start. (I apologize, I know I make it sound slightly like a restaurant special). Of course, wedding officiants can provide a wide range of ceremonies for people of different religious backgrounds and denominations. Is your marriage a cocktail of religious traditions? No problem –  pros like Brenda can totally accommodate!

What do you think, BABs? Have you given a lot of thought to your wedding officiant selection? What’s hampering your search for your dream wedding officiant?

  • Our hotel had a list of recommended officiants. I checked out each website, civil ceremonies, etc. The one we chose was also the best-reviewed and he was super down with us tweaking the crap out of his script. He was great AND even said it was one of the most fun weddings he'd officiated. His tie also matched my blue. He won.

  • e.v

    My fiance and I are very involved in martial arts. When he found out we got engaged, the owner of our school — our Mr. Miyagi if you will — mentioned officiating so he could say, "You may now kick the bride." I actually thought that would be awesome, lol. It turns out that one of our martial arts friends who is also a burner can officiate, though. I think that would be nice too.

  • Jamie

    My wedding officiant actually found me 🙂 I was in search of a DJ and posted on a local Facebook buy/sell/trade page. She gave me a few suggestions and then told me if I needed an officiant she would be more then happy to do it. Not only has she offered to do it free of charge for me since then (except gas because its out of town) but she helped me finish my invites and gave me tons of tips on how to set up our ceremony. She has absolutely been a blessing to our wedding and i dont know how i would have gotten anything done without her 🙂

  • Ashleigh

    One of our best friends is going to be our wedding officiant. We are having a beach wedding with family and friends.

  • The best officiant is the one that is closest enough with you. I, my self, have had a best friend of my husband and me to be a officiant. For some great reasons it is so easy to talk about what we need during wedding ceremony with him.

  • bridalmoment

    I have died and gone to inspiration heaven!!! Love this one!!

  • I just became Facebook Friends with Wedding Woman & share her philosophy ♥
    Posting to my FB & Twitter for my followers, too! Happy Weddings All 🙂 @RevAnnieNYC

  • I had the pleasure to work with Brenda Owen (aka: Wedding Woman) at Emily & John's wedding from the above story. She was delightful, and had I not known any different, I would have thought the three of them had known one another for years. Brenda is a true professional and has it all under control, like clockwork.

    She organized the groomsmen, giving them a heads-up on what to expect from her ceremony. She gathered the photographers and gave them instruction on when to NOT take photos (during the actual prayers). She married Emily and John with great love and respect, not making a single mistake during the process. She was so much at ease that it appeared it helped the couple while they stood at the altar in front of their loved ones.

    Wedding Woman has my full recommendation!

    • Michelle, I just saw this. Thank you for such a glowing review! I am going to put it on my website with a link to yours (as soon as I can get my webmaster to do it) Ot was a pleasure to work with you. I hope to see you again soon…at another wedding, of course!
      Brenda ~ WeddingWoman http://WeddingWoman.net

  • Brenda thank you again for such a beautiful ceremony. Everyone that we have talked to said how beautiful it was and what wonderful words you spoke. It was a perfect day for me as I had only hoped it would be and much of that is because due to you. If anyone inquires about your service and wants to speak to someone that has been through it with you, I'll be happy to sing your praises! It really makes a difference when trying to plan a wedding on such short notice. The ceremony that you wrote for us was beautiful.

    • Emily, this is the review I was looking for! It was wonderful to work with you, John & the team of professionals you put together. You had a lovely wedding!Wishing you a lifetime of love and happiness! Brenda AKA WeddingWoman

  • thank you!!