First things first. Without an officiant, there is no
wedding. If you booked your church or synagogue for
your wedding a year ago, that’s great. But if it’s two
weeks before your ceremony is scheduled to take place
and you’ve never talked to your pastor or rabbi about
who’s performing your marriage—and this has happened
before—you may have a problem. It’s not his or her responsibility
to check the calendar to see whose wedding is coming
up; it’s yours to ask him or her to marry you and to
see if he or she is available on the day you’ve chosen
for your ceremony.
Along the same lines, you’d hate to have the ceremony
and reception sites reserved only to discover that your
favorite minister, who’s also one of your family’s dearest
friends, is leaving for a monthlong vacation on the
date you’ve chosen for your wedding.
As for your ceremony site, a little planning can go
a long way. For instance, some sites—as with reception
sites—can be booked a year or more in advance. Likewise,
if you know that your church is planning major renovations,
schedule your wedding for after they’ve been completed.
Wouldn’t it be awful if you had your heart set on walking
down the aisle in the church you’ve attended since you
were a child, only to realize that all services during
the weekend you had chosen were being held at alternate
sites while roof repairs and painting were being done?
If you’ve planned an outdoor wedding, is there an alternate
site in case of rain?
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, here are some things
to keep in mind: In advance of the wedding day, go over
the particulars of your ceremony and vows very carefully
with your officiant. Don’t just leave it up to him or
her. If you’ve chosen readings, who is responsible for
bringing them to the ceremony, you or the officiant?
If you’ve asked friends or family members to perform
readings, supply them with copies in advance so that
they can practice. If there’s to be a sermon, you may
wish to discuss the tenor of it or any special thoughts
you might like to have included. Make sure you and your
officiant are on the same wavelength. You’d be pretty
upset if he or she started preaching about some notions
that you regard as sexist or outdated at your wedding.
Does your site have an adequate sound system for the
ceremony you have planned? For instance, if you’re to
be married outside or in a sound-dampening location,
is there a need for a microphone so that guests can
hear the ceremony and musicians? If you’re using recorded
music, does your church or synagogue have the equipment
you need to play it? Do you know how to use it? Has
someone been assigned the responsibility of cueing it
up and playing it at the appropriate times?
Regarding music, make sure you choose selections that
are appropriate. You may love the song “Edelweiss” from
The Sound of Music, but an instrumental version
of it is hardly the stuff that climactic wedding processionals
are made of. Consult with the director of music at your
church or knowledgeable friends for some good ceremonial-music
suggestions if you’re stuck.
Paying attention to such details in advance of your
wedding day can help ensure a memorable and beautiful
ceremony that you and your guests will remember for
years to come.