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  • Writer's pictureRev. Rob Schenck

Who Owns Your Wedding Ceremony?

My approach to serving as a clergy wedding officiant is expressed in my practice's name: Your Day Wedding Officiant Service.

After interviewing, coaching, and counseling hundreds of couples over the years, I believe passionately that a wedding belongs to only two people--the two who will marry one another during the wedding ceremony.

An old, hackneyed joke I tell a lot of my couples is in answer to a very common question I get, "After all these years, how many people have you married?" My joke line is, "I've only ever married one person, and after 46 years, I'm still in love with her!"

OK, it's an old, tired joke, but I mean it. The truth is being said in jest: Two people marry one another--I don't "marry" them. My role as a clergy officiant is to guide them through the process so that they say and do the things they want--and must--to seal their vows of devotion to one another, uniquely strengthen the bond between them, and end up a legally married couple after I solemnize their union.

In crafting a ceremony for a couple, I also guide them so that when it's all over, they can feel that they said and did everything just as they wanted to and wish to remember for as long as they are together.

One of the things I do in all my ceremonies is voice-prompt the couple throughout the service. They don't need to memorize anything--no words, no choreography. This frees them from being preoccupied with "What do I say now?" or "What am I supposed to do at this point?" I want them to be able to concentrate only on each other.

Finally, I coach my couples to think of the ceremony as a conversation between the two of them in their kitchen with the window open so a few neighbors, friends, and family can eavesdrop. "It's YOUR time, YOUR moment, YOUR space. You're simply allowing others the privilege of watching from afar."

A wedding should always be for two people so in love they wish to commit exclusively to one another in the most unique bonding two people can ever enjoy. The ceremony shouldn't be designed to please a parent, a group of friends, or a constituency. There's no producer, director, investor, audience, or critic to play to--just two hearts.

At least, this is how I see it--and most of my couples thank me profusely for it!

Thoughts of a happily married clergy wedding officiant.

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