Start a Discussion Are Professional Wedding Vendors Really Necessary?

This is a terrific blog post from Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants – Re-posted from Wedding Wire.

Do you need a stress-free wedding day?

I thought about calling this article, “Why you should hire a Pro,” but I realized that reflected my own personal bias, so I decided to take a different approach.

The inspiration for my words came from a Huffington Post blog post titled Why I’m Happy my Perfect Day wasn’t Perfect. The intention of the author was to convey that her wedding day was one-of-a-kind and memorable even if it wasn’t “perfect in every way.”

I totally get the essence of that sentiment. It’s one I’ve written about myself.

But, as a professional wedding officiant, what threw me about her post was her description of how her officiant (excuse my blunt language, but it is the only phrase that will suffice) totally screwed up her ceremony. In the author’s own words:

I smiled at my fiancé and stared into his eyes. After nine years together, we were finally here. We were both incredibly happy, emotional and excited. I lost myself in the moment as the officiant started to speak. The moment lasted briefly. As his words began to sink in, my fiancé and I both looked to him and then to each other as we realized the same thing: this was not the ceremony we had planned.

Apparently, the rehearsal ceremony is not just for the bridal party but also for the officiant. A fact we had not considered. We had taken great care to write our own vows and sent them to our officiant along with some basic instructions: The ceremony was to be secular. I was not taking my fiancé’s name. The officiant confirmed receipt, said it was beautiful and assured us he would do it exactly as we’d asked. Not wanting to hem him in, we encouraged him to freestyle if he wanted to add his own touch.

Well, freestyle he did. Not only had he forgotten to bring our lovingly crafted vows, he had a strange verbal tick –. As if to confirm that we were, in fact, picking up what he was laying down, every sentence ended with “OK?” As he waxed on poetically, “… and I can see from the joy written on your faces that you will be together, forever and ever and ever… OK?” My husband and I shared a, “What do we do?” look, then shrugged it off and smiled. The vows were cookie cutter and lifted straight from Days of Our Lives, he made us say “Amen”, introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Martin and literally did not get one thing right.

The author did not state where they found this gem of an officiant. I don’t get the sense that it was a friend or family member. But certainly, he couldn’t be described as a “pro” given the above performance. A Craig’s List special (a.k.a. “I will perform your ceremony for $75”)? Perhaps. But even so, why did she not have the opportunity to speak with the officiant prior to the ceremony? A 10 minute phone conversation would surely have allowed this couple to discover the language…ummm….shall we be kind and say “impediment?”

I’m not here to question the thoroughness of the author’s officiant interview process. I’m not even here to trash this so-called wedding officiant up, down and sidewise due to his total lack of…everything–skill, professionalism, talent, practice, attention to detail and sensitivity. (Although, I admit it’s tempting since his actions give wedding officiating a bad name.)

Instead I’d rather ask my readers a question.

If this happened to you, would you be able to roll with it?

The author of the above post seemingly was fine with things (although I wonder how truthful this would be if she were pressed on the issue). After confessing that a host of other things went wrong (the majority of them due–in my professional opinion–to poor advice from her wedding vendors) she states, “But it didn’t change the fact that I got to marry my best friend and celebrate with all my favorite people in the world. The rest of the imperfections just made our wedding real, made it ours and made for one hell of a story.”

Okay, good for her–she’s seemingly a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. With that going for her, her marriage is bound to be successful.

But what if that’s not who YOU are? What if having the above happen to you at your ceremony would really bother you–not just on the day of the wedding (bad enough), but for many years to come?

I’ll be honest. If that had happened to me (or one of my daughters), I’d be alternately angry, sad and a whole other host of negative emotions. I can just imagine the helplessness of standing before my family and friends as I pledge my life to my husband (a momentous occasion for most of us married folks) and watching some idiot officiant not only botch the words and the delivery, but infuse the ceremony with values that were contrary to my own.

I, for one, would find it difficult to focus on the love I have for my husband in that moment.

Call me shallow, but it would bother the heck out of me. And I make no apology for it.

I think, then, that when it comes to the topic of wedding planning, it’s not just a question of determining your budget and finding vendors who are willing to work within your financial parameters. It’s also about knowing who you are, and what you can handle. And neither should you offer apologies for your personality, quirks or assorted pet peeves. You are who you are and if you’re not okay with that by the time you marry, you might want to rethink your marital readiness.

If the above scenario would stress you out, then do yourself a favor and don’t look to Craig’s List for your wedding officiant. Don’t ask your Uncle Phil (the brilliant trial lawyer who has never officiated a wedding in his life) to get ordained online and perform your wedding ceremony. Don’t ask your parent’s 80-year old priest to officiate a secular ceremony that you’ve written yourself. It’s not going to turn out the way you want it to, believe me.

Hire a pro. Interview the pro. Communicate your expectations to the pro. And yes–pay the pro’s fee.

But if–like the bride in the article–you can let something like this roll off your back and actually relish the fact that a disaster can translate into little more than “one hell of a story,” then have at it. You can loosen your standards and your pocketbook considerably.

Just be sure you’re going to be okay with the consequences.

Hiring a pro doesn’t guarantee that you’ll avoid all wedding-day glitches, but it sure lowers the odds. If you read the entire story of this gal’s wedding day, you’ll see that she also walked down the aisle without her bouquet (no decent professional wedding coordinator would have allowed that to happen), had an inebriated MC (Hello!! Professional DJ anyone?) and had a thunderstorm at her outdoor venue (presumably no backup?). All she needed was a Craig’s List “photographer” to round out the deal and the entire thing (in my opinion) would have been a certified unmitigated disaster.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Maureen Thomson has been a wedding officiant since 2002 and is the owner of Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants. This article may be reproduced in its entirety provided that authorship is credited to Maureen Thomson, included with a link to


Re-posted by Becky, Officiant at Tie The Knot

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