I’ve married a lot of couples. A LOT. Truthfully, being a wedding officiant is the best job ever! I can’t think of any other job that allows you to participate in joy for a living. It can be a little stressful, though. This is someone’s wedding day, and we really only get one shot at this ceremony thing. NO PRESSURE THERE.
Fortunately, my expertise, experience and training allow me to predict, plan for, and avoid all the common (and most of the not-so-common) ceremony disasters. Occasionally, though, I have been thrown some crazy curve balls, and have had to, well…punt? (Can I use two different sport analogies in one sentence? Screw it. I’m doing it…)
In this case, my fumbles are your recoveries (Ok, I’m done). Today I’m going to share with you four stories of ceremony woe. These are all true. I lived them. In hindsight, they are kind of funny. But there are lessons in here for you about how you can AVOID having these things happen on your wedding day.
Here we go.
Puddles of Symbolism: If I’ve advised couples once, I’ve advised them 1,000 times, NO CANDLES OUTSIDE. The risks are simply not worth the reward, my dears. Not when there are so many more creative options for unity rituals. Anyway, this particular couple insisted on doing a unity candle. Outside. In August. At HIGH NOON. Do I need to tell you what happened? I do? Ok.
The candle was placed under a lovely glass hurricane shade (which only magnified the sun’s scorching rays), and when they lifted the shade during the ceremony to do the ritual, it slopped forward into a pathetic puddle of melted wax. How’s THAT for symbolism?
Your Lesson: You need to choose rituals that make sense for your ceremony space. Think through the time of day, location and possible weather scenarios. Your officiant should have PLENTY of suggestions for fun, personal rituals that will come off beautifully. If not, CALL ME.
The Wedding Singer: A couple was given a “gift” by a family friend. The friend was in a band, and wanted to sing a song for them during the ceremony. She was bringing her own equipment, her own backup music—she had this. Sounds good, right? The bride and groom were fine with it, and the mother of the bride was THRILLED, because this woman had been a friend of hers for years.
The singer couldn’t make the rehearsal, but on the day of the ceremony, I checked in with her a few times. Was she all set? Did she have everything she needed? Did she know her cue? Apparently, though, I should have asked, CAN YOU ACTUALLY SING? Because, no. No she could not. Her singing sounded like 10,000 feral cats had descended upon the venue and had us surrounded. Guests were looking at me with pleading eyes, “Save us! Save us! What is happening?” I actually started sweating.
The bride graciously kept her eyes down on her bouquet the entire time. I looked over at the mother of bride, and she was beaming like we were in the presence of Barbra Streisand. When the song ended, I said “Thank you that was lovely.” And we NEVER SPOKE OF IT AGAIN.
Your Lesson: Rehearsals are important. They help everyone feel comfortable with what will be happening during the ceremony, and ensure that there are no surprises, (or feral cats)!
The Case of the Disappearing DJ: The second ceremony I ever performed was for a super nice couple who hired a friend to DJ their wedding to save on costs. I get it. Weddings are expensive. When I arrived, I chatted with the DJ as he was setting up his equipment. I asked him if he had a microphone for me to use during the ceremony, or if I should set up my own. He said “I have one in the truck, I’ll go get it.” HE NEVER CAME BACK.
I wish I was joking. He left half his equipment set up and took off. I never did find out where he went, but when it was ceremony time, the bride was sobbing because she had no music for her entrance. Fortunately, I was working with an awesome venue staff, and we quickly downloaded the processional song onto my iPhone and played it over the little microphone speaker I had brought.
Your Lesson: Hire wedding professionals. They are professionals FOR A REASON. And, you never know when the friend you hired might be abducted by aliens or join the witness protection program. Seriously. Where did that guy go?
Saved the Best for Last: This story is not one that you’ll learn something from, but I have to share it. I was performing a black tie wedding at an unbelievably gorgeous venue. I was there extra early, and spent some time chatting with the groom’s grandparents who were also early. At one point, I excused myself and went to get some water. When I came back into the room, the grandpa was GOING THROUGH MY PURSE. I quietly approached him, and said, “I think that is my bag. Is there something I can help you with?” He said “Oh, no. Sorry, I thought this was my wife’s.”
During the ceremony, I happened to look over at grandpa, and do you know what he was doing? Using my lip balm. When he saw me looking at him, HE WINKED AT ME.
Your Lesson: Nothing. But that story STILL makes me laugh. I hope you enjoyed it.
How can I help you avoid ceremony curveballs? I’d love to help.
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