American Association of Wedding Officiants

Professional Wedding Officiants

Posts Tagged ‘officiant’


Posted by AAWO on April 14, 2009

Traditions have for the most part remained the same over the last 100 years but couples have been personalizing some of the standard ones in recent years.

With more couples being married outside the church and in the great outdoors, the unity candle has become a challenge. We have heard ideas like drill out the center of the candles and insert the trick birthday candles so if blown out they will relight again and again.

2Also couples have moved on to sand ceremonies, unity bouquets even the mixing of wines. Here we see a sand ceremony coupled with their own tradition of jumping sugar cane. Both families are from sugar producing islands and sugar cane has always been a happy and positive entity in their lives.

1Rituals also provide an excellent opportunity to include family. Here we have a couple both with three children by utilizing a unity candle the youngest each lit a candle and passed the flame to the next until reaching the parents whom in turn lit the unity candle.

When planning a ceremony speak with your experienced Officiant –  ideas and challenges for new ideas are always shared among them.

Submitted by Reverend Michael Scarlett


Posted in Ceremony, officiant, Rituals | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The DIY Trend

Posted by AAWO on April 12, 2009

copy-of-ajg_12561Who doesn’t want to save money on their wedding? Unless your name is Trump, Rockefeller or Hilton, you probably do. But is cutting corners the wisest way to go? In this economy DIY is the only way many couples can afford to even get close to their dream wedding. Let’s face it, weddings are expensive!

I think that it’s a personal choice per couple. If going this route, each couple needs to decide which things are the most important to them and spend the larger parts of their budget there. Anything that they are going to try on their own should only be attempted if it won’t “crush them” if it doesn’t go as planned, or if they have a KNOWLEDGEABLE family or friend member willing to help.

Ask to see examples of their work to be certain they are going to do things your way. If you don’t like how they do it, you aren’t locked in. Deciding to go with a professional will save you heartache, because it can’t be redone. However, if Aunt Paula is awesome at cake making and wants to help, by all means, take advantage of that opportunity!

I hear horror stories about couples that tried to save money by having a friend ordained online to marry them. This is fine if your friend is a great public speaker and writer, with some knowledge of how to put a ceremony together. However, I have bailed out a couple that had the person back out a month before the wedding with nothing done; and heard about the cousin that had a “couple of nerve calmers” before the ceremony and had to leave during the service for a minute to use the facilities!

If you want something done right you have to do it yourself. This belief leads people to hold on to too much. Unfortunately, people who cling to this belief often become an organizational bottleneck. Everything has to be done by, or through, them. It is hard for some brides to emotionally detatch themselves from every aspect of their wedding, so they decide to take care of it all. Those are the ones that end up extremely stressed out, things don’t turn out the way they wanted, and ultimately they didn’t enjoy their wedding day.

I think every aspect of the wedding can be a DIY, but not every aspect for every wedding.

Submitted by Rev. Carleen Burns

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If Rice is not an Option on your Wedding Day…

Posted by AAWO on April 8, 2009

What better day to try something different than on your wedding day? Remember  it’s Your Day ~ Your Way !!!  One small change that you can customize is the ‘rice throwing’. Granted not many people really throw rice anymore, but the sentiment of wishing the happy couple good luck is still there. So lets look some of the  options available:

– It’s the most traditional choice.  We’re cautioned not to throw rice at the bride and groom, because the grain will prove harmful to the birds who swoop down to eat it.  Uncooked, milled rice is no more harmful to birds than rice in the field, says Mary Jo Cheesman of the U S Rice Federation.  The birds are safe, but the guests could be injured if they were to slip and fall. If that’s not an issue, at your location, and the tradition of rice feels best to you then go for it!  They even sell it in a cooked format that is then shaped into wedding bells, doves, etc…

– Always nice to feed a few birds on your wedding day, but trying to get all that birdseed out of your hair is a nightmare and some facilities may feel the same way about birdseed as they do about rice!

– Fun and whimsical. They can be purchased in small favor sized bottles and even customized with the wedding information. Check your local Dollar Store for the best prices!!

– Beautiful thought to send butterflies free to fly around you, but you have to make sure the boxes you receive contain live butterflies and that you have enough to even be seen. Be sure to deal with a reputable vendor, only release on a day above 60 degrees and in the middle of the afternoon so they have time to find something to eat before they must find a place to roost for the night.

– Similar to butterflies.  Choose a reputable vendor and practice with them (before the ceremony) so you know the correct way to hold and release them.

Bells or other noisemakers
– Perfect for venues which don’t allow anything to be thrown, but be sure to let the little ones know they’re just to ring and not to throw!

– Can be bought in a variety of colors and glittering effects. However, it’s notoriously difficult to clean up even with vacuuming. For this reason most locations probably won’t allow it. On the plus side it can come in a variety of shapes and be great for a theme wedding even just spread out on the reception tables.

– Fantastic effect for an evening  wedding. Get the larger ones so that the sparkle will last longer.  They also make them with a wood center (rather than metal) so they are safer for youngsters.

Flower Petals or Lavender
– Very romantic and beautiful to see a shower of petals/buds. They are easier to clean up then confetti and without the hassle of birdseed getting in your hair.

Submitted by Reverend Melanie J. Maxwell
Infinite Blessings Ministries

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Relating to Your Wedding Officiant

Posted by AAWO on April 5, 2009

When To Choose A Wedding Officiant

The trend these days seems to be delaying selection of the officiant until very late in the wedding planning process. Puzzling as the union cannot be solemnified unless an officiant is present. This indicates to me the celebrant should actually be one of the very first people you hire. I recommend you do so with great care and consideration. I urge couples to first retain their officiant, next reserve the venue and proceed from there.

How to Relate to Your Wedding Officiant

Perhaps since so many weddings are performed secularly these days, people often do not know how to interview, hire and relate to their wedding officiant. Simply put, he or she should be treated the same way you would a member of the professional clergy.

Getting Married in beautiful Mystic, CT

Getting Married in beautiful Mystic, CT

Invitation Etiquette

I was brought up with the old adage “manners can be fun” and with that in mind, ask you to consider inviting your officiant to both the rehearsal dinner and the reception. Your celebrant may not always be able to accept, but the offer is a nice courtesy and if desired he or she can offer a short blessing or invocation at the beginning of the meal or festivities. Traditional etiquette dictated a formal invitation be sent to the officiant, including an invitation to dinners and receptions, but verbal requests are acceptable. Invitations indicate courtesy and eliminate awkward situations and schedule conflicts.

Please do not simply expect an officiant to stay after the ceremony without expressing your expectations prior to your wedding day. Officiants are most comfortable with a formal invitation. Besides helping keep track of scheduling and making expectations crystal clear, your officiant will appreciate the keepsake. Many times the officiant will either politely decline or stay for a short time for a “cocktail hour” and decline the full meal at a formal reception.

I myself appreciate the rehearsal dinner for the opportunity to “bond” with the families. I generally simply stay for the cocktail hour at receptions and then…I’m on my way. Though it is nice to have the option to stay longer.

Reception Etiquette

If you do want your officiant to be part of the reception and the officiant has accepted the invitation, try to seat the officiant with like minded people. Throughout the wedding planning process hopefully you will have formed a relationship with your officiant and have an idea what kind of person he or she is.

I am a happy- go- lucky, young, gregarious person and am most comfortable socializing with the same. If your officiant is quiet and retiring, it is probably not a good thing to place him or her at a table with ten of your loudest partying friends! 🙂


If you feel your officiant has done an exceptional job, by all means express yourself with a gratuity. Officiants probably charge the least of all the wedding vendors and most pour their hearts and souls into the ceremony. We do not just do it as a job; it is a calling and an experience. If the ceremony is particularly pleasing, gratuities are a concrete way to let officiants know you appreciate what they did and honor their contribution to making the day especially meaningful.

Officiants Are At Your Service

Please know and remember that I am there for you 100%. I have absolutely no qualms about being asked a million questions about anything. I can always help where the vendors come in.

Ask away…I will always help out in any way I can. There is nothing, in my book, that fazes me when it comes to questions. Ask away!!! It’s my job to make your day great! 🙂

Submitted by Marie Tyler Wiley
A CT Justice of the Peace & Minister

Posted in officiant, Weddings | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Jumping the Broom

Posted by AAWO on April 2, 2009

“Jumping the Broom” at a wedding is a custom that has lost its origin but adopted widely in England and the USA.

It is believed to be from a West African practice brought by slaves to the southern United States but adopted by many local people who could not find or afford a civil or religious celebrant of marriage.   Some think the Roma culture also had a similar tradition along with some Celtic tribes.

From where ever it came, it is now part of our wedding ceremony traditions and incorporated in marriage ceremonies in many places. Couples like to vary what is said and done at their wedding,  whether it be a special ceremony like giving a rose to mothers, a “Unity Candle”,  or a wine ceremony.

Using a decorated broom to jump just for the fun of doing a different tradition during the service has caught on locally. I have used it in many informal weddings I have done over the past 18 years as a wedding officiant and each time it gets a laugh from the people watching.  It is said who jumps the highest is the head of the new household but a man in slacks has the advantage.   Some couples like to decorate the broom in meaningful colors or flowers and may include a story about who will be in charge of the broom after the wedding.

Adding interesting elements to a wedding ceremony makes it a little more special for the occasion.

Submitted by Chaplain Jerry Schwehm

Posted in Ceremony, Rituals | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by aawo on April 2, 2009


The American Association of Wedding Officiants is a professional group of wedding ministers, officiants, celebrants, and Justices of the Peace that ecourages education and professionalism among its members. With over 500 members throughout the USA the AAWO helps couples locate a profession wedding officiant to help with their wedding ceremony. Get more information about locating a wedding officiant  at this web page:

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