Special thanks to Officiant Erika for giving us a glimpse into the wonderous world of officiating! Take it away, Erika:
As someone fairly new to the officiant game, I have spent this last year learning as I go and drawing conclusions, changing routines and, I’m not gonna lie, sometimes just plain old flying by the seat of my pants!
I’m no stranger to the wedding world though, so I had that life experience going for me. I have been involved in many different aspects of the wedding world over the years. Not only have I been married for 20 years but I have been a wedding singer, bridesmaid, photographer’s assistant, MC, and even worked as a bridal consultant. For someone who didn’t grow up dreaming about my wedding, I sure have spent a lot of time involved in other people’s big day!
Now that I have found this amazing adventure, it actually shocks me that it took me this long to land as an officiant. This is what I love. I love meeting the couple, hearing their story and helping them plan an amazing ceremony. My own wedding was before the era of Pinterest and cool artsy wedding photography so I love sitting down with a couple and hearing about the creative elements they are planning and helping them expand ideas into realities. My job is seriously the best. It’s never boring because it’s never the same thing twice. There is creativity and adventure in every wedding. I meet AMAZING people and get to be a part of some of the coolest weddings ever. And, as a bonus, I get to wear fun shoes and funky accessories!
So this brings me to the adventurous day of a wedding officiant. Of course, preparations are underway long before the big day. There are phone calls and emails, meetings over coffee, then more emails. There is a lot of writing and rewriting that happens behind the scenes. But by rehearsal night, it’s all about the final details, easing nerves and starting the celebrations!
And then Saturday morning is the big event! So, here it is: A day in the life of a wedding officiant!
Rise & Shine
7:30AM: I’m awake and I’ve already heard that sweet soft beep from my favourite kitchen appliance. Life is always better once that coffee hits my lips. I think everyone in my house would agree with that.
7:45AM: I am downstairs in the living room with coffee in hand. I’m reading over my ceremonies for the day and checking my weather app to decide if it’s going to be nice enough to straighten my hair or if I’ll have to let the wild mane be wild because of rain or humidity. Laugh if you will, but this is actually one of my biggest stresses on a Saturday!
8:00AM: My son is usually the next one up. If he isn’t up already, he will be within minutes of hearing someone else awake. My daughter on the other hand… well, she is a full on teenager; we may or may not see her emerge in this account of my day. Ryder is 12 and loves to visit in the morning when the others are still asleep. I know he may soon grow out of this so I don’t take these moments for granted. We sit, we chat, I pour more coffee…it’s a good way to start my morning.
8:30AM: I typically have all my ceremonies for the day printed the night before. There are often multiple weddings on a Saturday during the summer so I like to be uber organized. I have everything slipped into the sleeves of my book in order of events of the day. I have empty sleeves at the back for the licences to reside in after each ceremony. I send one last email out just to make sure everything is still on track attaching my cell number again, just in case something comes up. I put my folder and my registry book beside my purse so I don’t forget them because they are basically my life on Saturday.
9:00AM: I’m getting ready. This is always tricky if my hubs is still sleeping. I am trying desperately to navigate around quietly so he will get that precious sleep that escaped me so many hours ago. Confession, before taking this job it had been a long time since I got to dress up for work. I worked in a bank for ten years and after leaving the bank, I was home with kids and teaching preschool so my fun, dress up clothes were moved to the back of the closet. Now, I have given my dresses and fancy shoes something to live for again! Now, there is still a bit of an art to this that I am figuring out. I’m the officiant so I have to be dressed nice, but that also means appropriately. I’m not IN the wedding but I am going to be IN the wedding pictures. Bridal colours and patterns are important to know because I would hate to clash with the wedding party. I tend to go a little more classic; I wear a lot of black and then dress it up with fun shoes or accessories. I don’t want someone looking back at their wedding pictures someday and being distracted by the officiant’s bad outfit! I shouldn’t even be noticed. It’s a fine line, people, a very fine line…
9:30AM: This is where my 15 year old daughter Avareigh comes in. Rarely will she be awake by this time so I have the great pleasure of doing that. She has to be at dance by 10:15 so it’s always a scramble to get her out the door on time. The most important thing at this point however will be that she approves of my outfit choice. She is VERY fashion forward and if I don’t ask her opinion, I will likely get it anyways! I actually love this about her. We have this fun passion for fashion in common and now that she is as tall as me (okay, a little taller) we can share clothes and shoes! We have so much fun styling things together and I always consult her on my outfits, especially on Saturdays!
10:00AM: Dropping Avareigh off at dance and heading back home to quickly go over everything one last time. I’m checking traffic and choosing alternate routes, just in case. I live in the Valley and most of my weddings are in the city. The highway is a horrible place to be these days with all the construction and congestion, so I typically plan to be on back roads until I am at least in Langley, then I might chance the freeway. If my first wedding is at 2:00 I will leave by 10:30. Sounds ridiculous, right? It’s not. 3.5 hours will usually get me there way too early but there have been times when it only gets me there ten minutes early so I would rather be sitting in a coffee shop for an hour than sitting in traffic and late!
10:30AM: My husband, Matt, has filled my travel mug and made a plate of eggs that he will force me to eat. I hate eating breakfast. I’m happy to just have black coffee. And I can usually get away with it during the week, but when he’s home he takes care of me and makes me eat eggs. I love this about him…even though I hate the eggs. I have my folder, my registry, and about 35 pens in my purse because you just never know. I have a bag with my ‘wedding shoes’ (because I’m guaranteed to be wearing ugly sneakers for the drive), a sweater and most likely a change of clothes. My hubby has Saturdays off so I rattle off all the details of the day, “Don’t forget to pick Avareigh up at 1:00. Ryder skates need to be sharpened before his game tonight. Pick up the wine for wine club.” You know, the to-do things of the day. He’s pretty awesome at picking up the slack on weekends when I’m not around! Sometimes though, he comes with me and we turn an afternoon wedding into an evening date in the city. It’s always a bonus when someone comes with me because then I get to use the HOV lane!
On The Road
10:45AM: I’m on the road and dialed into AM 730. All traffic all the time. If you are a commuter, you just sang that slogan in your head. I am obsessed with that channel while driving now. It is my life. I listen and pray that the traffic gods smile on me today.
12:30PM: For the sake of this blog, we are going to say that traffic was a dream. I love these days because I end up getting to my first wedding crazy early so I find a nearby coffee shop and pull out my paperwork. I enter in all the info I can for the registry. I read over my ceremonies for the day again. I write a quick card to congratulate the couple. I look ahead to next week and check in via email with couples that I need to follow up with. I actually love these ‘time killer’ coffee shop moments. I am alone, focussed and get a lot done! I text Matt to make sure he picked up Avareigh. I call home and talk to Ryder. The ONLY downside to this job is that I’m not home on the weekend but my kids are older and our family is tight so they understand and we make up for it elsewhere.
1:30PM: I arrive at the ceremony. I look first for the groom or the wedding planner if there is one. We talk about all the last minute details and how beautiful everything looks. Then I head off to say a quick hello to the bride if she is already in the building. I come back, chat with the DJ and the photographers. We discuss sound issues and staging for pictures. I get set up with the mic. I’m usually still wearing ugly shoes at this point but I make friends with the DJ so I can stash them under his table at the back! Once I finally put the pretty (but painful) shoes on, I head over to the signing table and lay out the registry and licence for signing. I double check they have all the right info there and that it’s ready to go. Then I head off to the side to wait with the groom as the guests file in.
2:00PM: This is the best part of the day! I love watching the groom’s face as his bride enters. I love watching the bride watch the groom. They lock eyes and it’s like there is no one else in the room. I was married 20 years ago and I still remember that lock. I don’t remember seeing anyone or anything as I walked that aisle… just him. I love the give away and the vows. Whether a couple has written their own vows or they are doing a simple repeat after me style, there is always such thick tangible emotion in that moment. I just love it.
2:30PM: The ceremony is over, the couple is off to their pictures and just like that, I’m done. I slip out the back and quickly find the couple before they run off. I offer my congratulations and try to sneak a picture with them before they are whisked away. I find their card box, drop my congratulatory offerings and head back to retrieve my comfy shoes from the DJ. In exchange, I give him back his mic and I am off to the parking lot where I punch the next address into the GPS and head to wedding #2. I double check the legal paperwork one last time. It’s always easier to chase someone down AT the wedding than a week later when you realize a witness forgot to sign!
3:30PM: I arrive at wedding #2 with a warm Starbucks in hand. I repeat all the pre-ceremony steps as wedding #1 and we are ready to begin.
4:00PM: Wedding #2 begins and is totally different but just a beautiful as wedding #1. It’s amazing to me how the bones of a wedding are always similar but each ceremony is totally unique… like a snowflake!
4:30PM: Wedding #2 is finished and I bid the couple and the DJ adieu and I am off once again. This time to an elopement not too far away. And again, I’m double checking paperwork. I think this is the only other thing that stresses me out as bad as the traffic and being on time.
5:15PM: I arrive in the park for the elopement. I love elopements. They are so fun and personal. The laid back vibe allows for so much personality and comfort. Typically with elopements, we sign the registry and licence before the ceremony then we can dive right in!
5:30PM: Elopement begins.
5:45PM: Elopement is done and my day is over…almost. One last double check and I hop in my car and head to the closest coffee shop. I refuel (with coffee) and take that change of clothes in and do a quick switch. Hop back in the car and head to Langley for an exciting game of hockey which I will likely be late for.
7:30PM: I arrive in time to catch the end of the hockey the game that Ryder is playing in and I more than make up for my tardiness by the volume with which I cheer, even if they’re losing. Yup, I’m that mom…
8:15PM: The game ends and we collect our stinky superstar and head out. The day is not over yet though! Remember that bottle of wine I asked Matt to pick up? Ryder heads home with my mom who religiously watches his games wherever they may be and Matt and I head to wine club. We’re late, again, but we have very gracious friends who let us show up late to things all the time. The juggling and busyness is all worth it when you can end the day with a nice full bodied red in your glass and your favourite people by your side.
That’s it. That is a typical Saturday in my world. I will add that Sunday morning I photocopy all that paperwork I double checked and mail off the originals. And then on Monday, I send each couple an email just thanking them for allowing me to be a part of their big day. I do not take it lightly that they have trusted me with their ceremony. It’s a real honour. From there, I start the week, looking forward to all the prep and planning that happens for next Saturday’s adventure! I love this life!