Encore Wedding

If you’re an Encore Bride or Groom (second, third, fourth, or…), congratulations! You’ve come a long way, baby! You have a definite style all your own.  Will you be married on the beach?  In the mountains?  With an intimate few or your combined families and friends? Wherever the ceremony takes place, do it with perfectly-composed words that resonate most with your heart, express the journey you’ve been on, the person you’ve become, and the path that led you to the one you were meant to spend your life with…at last!

Can or Should Your Wedding Ceremony be Co-Officiated?

Every wedding is both a time of great joy and a time of heightened anxiety, and the preparation for one is a great balancing act!  The officiant of your ceremony has a pretty hefty job when you think about it – setting the tone, saying the right things, actually marrying you…

If you are thinking of having your officiant share the ceremony with a family member or friend, here are some things to consider. The first step is to find an officiant who is open to the idea of a shared ceremony. Look for that person to see this as a symbol of unity. Find an officiant who is willing to take time for you. The more you can talk with the people who will officiate at your wedding, the more personal and meaningful you will find their involvement.  The second step is to explore the elements and how best to incorporate them into your ceremony. I suggest that the ceremony be shared enough so as not to give the impression that one is dominating it while the other is just an addendum. I prefer to share the service with the co-officiant in a way that we alternate in leading the ceremony and its different parts and address both bride and groom.

When choosing a friend-officiant, consider why they would make a good fit.  Have they ever officiated at a wedding before?  Are they a good public speaker?  Officiating at a wedding ceremony can seem like a daunting and nerve-wracking task and there may be people in your life who love you, but simply may not want to stand up in front of 100 people and perform your wedding.  Once you have a friend-officiant on board, decide who will write the ceremony and figure out a timeline. Do this early so you don’t get crazy as your wedding approaches and you have no idea what is going to be said!  Many couples with a friend-officiant will write some of the wedding ceremony and then ask their officiant to read it for feedback.  Discuss the tone and overall vibe you want for your ceremony.  This can be a collaborative process too and by keeping the communication lines clear, you can ensure that the ceremony will come together well.

When in doubt, veer towards having a professional legally solemnize your marriage.  You want to have an awesome ceremony, but you also want to be legally married at the end, too!

Short and Sweet

To officiate a wedding ceremony for a couple is a great honor and delight!  Over the years I’ve “coached” many panicky brides and grooms who are nervous because they didn’t know how to begin, what they “should” do or “should” say at their wedding.  The standard timeline typically includes a welcome, a reading or two, an address from the officiant, the declaration of intent, the vows and exchange of rings, any add-ins (strictly up to the couple), the pronouncement and of course, the kiss! The truth is that five years after the ceremony no one may remember what you said, but they will remember the tone and feeling of the ceremony.  When done well, a ceremony renews and refreshes people in an emotional way.  The officiant’s words are not just for my couples but are also for family and friends and guests.  They are present as witnesses and play a role of honor throughout the ceremony.  Your ceremony needn’t feel like an “out of body experience!”


Clarifying Some Frequent Questions

Be sure to choose a wedding officiant who is legally authorized to perform weddings in Connecticut and verify that the person you speak to on the telephone or via email is actually the person who will be performing your ceremony.  Some web-based “officiants” are in fact referral agencies that seek a fee from truly local officiants to receive a referral.  I would suggest asking any potential officiant if they are a referral group or in fact an officiant in the city or town where you want to be married. The person you choose to be your wedding officiant is going to be sharing a very personal, very important moment in your life. Flexibility should be one of the benefits of having a Justice of the Peace as your officiant!

Connecticut Justices of the Peace are permitted to marry people anywhere in Connecticut.  Some Justices of the Peace do not want to travel out of their own town.  You should feel comfortable that your officiant will honor the traditions that you want to include.  This is especially important if you follow two different traditions, and you would like elements of both included in the ceremony.

Many couples these days are describing themselves as “Spiritual, but not religious.”  Your ceremony can easily be written with or without mention of God or a higher power. Where does the officiant’s power to marry you come from?  My authority comes from the State of Connecticut.  A word of warning: Connecticut has cracked down on so-called “Internet ordinations.”  Some states allow people to get “ordained” by a website just to marry friends.

Connecticut law requires clergy to have an active ministry in addition to marrying people.  If you have a ceremony with an “Internet Minster” you will not be legally married.  Only ordained or licensed people who have an active Connecticut ministry performing religious duties other than marrying people can legally marry people in Connecticut.  Ministers, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders who lead established Connecticut congregations that meet regularly are legally authorized to perform marriages.  An “Internet Ordination” is not valid in Connecticut.



Find A Style or Theme

Your wedding ceremony should have a theme.  A theme makes the whole ceremony cohesive and much easier to create.  For example, is your message, “We took a journey together and this is the ultimate journey we start today,” or “Our love has been tested and today we reaffirm our connection,” or “Woo-hoo! Finally!”  Is your tone nostalgic?  Forward thinking?  Is your ceremony aimed toward the community of loved ones there to celebrate and witness your love, or more about the team of two you’ve created with your partner?  Whether you want to go totally non-traditional and build your own format or follow traditional formats, I’d like to stress this point…don’t be overwhelmed!  I am here, lovely readers, to help you build your ceremonies.

Selecting Your Officiant

Selecting the officiant is one of the most important decisions for your ceremony. But many times, this detail gets lost in the excitement of wedding planning. You want your ceremony to be memorable and meaningful, so it’s important to find the right person for you!

The officiant is as central to your day as the photographer or the caterer. Most professional officiants have performed hundreds of ceremonies and can guide you calmly through what can otherwise feel like a hectic process. Performing a ceremony successfully requires more than just standing up front and saying a few words. It involves being able to read the audience and change tones and delivery accordingly. It is being able to know beforehand what is going to flow and when to include tasteful, light-hearted material. The officiant is there to set the tone for the celebrations to follow. Finally, the officiant should realize that it is not about him/her or his/her soapbox, but it is about the couple and should include personable, solemn and enjoyable material that will cause your guests to say, “That was the best ceremony we have attended.”

Find an officiant with whom you can connect. Someone who listens, is flexible and can answer your questions. Can you write your own vows or add other special touches to the ceremony? Are you looking for a little humor in the ceremony? Can you use contemporary readings, or are religious or scripture readings required? Will they work with you to develop a ceremony that honors the religious traditions and beliefs of both families?

It is your day.  You should have a say in the details that are important to you.  Ideally, you should look for someone who best reflects your ideals and beliefs, an Officiant with the experience, with whom you can connect, who can work with you to create a ceremony that allows your love to shine through for all to see.

Why Use A Wedding Officiant?

A wedding officiant is the person who leads your wedding ceremony. They must be legally recognized to do so by the state in which your wedding takes place.The legal responsibilities of the officiant vary according to state laws. Generally speaking, your officiant’s signature on your marriage license signifies that he or she knows of no reason that you are not qualified to be married in that particular state. For example, you are of age or have parental consent, you are not currently married to someone else, or seeking a same sex marriage in a state that does not allow them. Their signature also means that they have witnessed you sharing your wedding vows and have officially pronounced that you are partners in marriage.  In addition to the legal and religious/spiritual considerations regarding who you choose to have officiate at your wedding, it is important to think about what is and is not important to you about your wedding ceremony. For example:

What does it mean to you that you are getting married?

Do you need to take into account anyone else’s point of view on the matter?

Are you looking for an officiant with whom you feel comfortable?

Do you need someone with enough experience to know how to assist you in your ceremony as well as conduct the rehearsal ceremony itself?

Whether you are choosing to have a friend or family member officiate or are looking for a seasoned officiant, be sure to consider how their personality style, personal beliefs, and understanding of their role will influence your ceremony. Your wedding officiant should be able to serve as your go-to person for all your questions and concerns about your ceremony. Choose someone who can serve you well and help you keep on top of all the details.

Taking the Fear out of Combining Traditions

Each culture and faith has its own special way of celebrating and honoring the combining of two lives, many of them traditions that have been passed from generation to generation. Brides and grooms today are finding each other across all kinds of religious and cultural divides and the rise of multicultural and interfaith weddings has led to beautiful new expressions of identity, culture and faith, as well as new sets of traditions.

When couples come from different cultural backgrounds, incorporating their individual traditions into the wedding events can be a connective thread linking both families together. Fusing traditions of old with modern adaptations can enhance and enrich an already beautiful event. Couples have the freedom to create a wedding that is as unique as they are.

 Many couples already know the traditions they would like to incorporate and can turn their focus to how best to weave them together. Talking with your families and your officiant is helpful to hear their thoughts and ideas about what might be included and in what order the ceremony should unfold. Officiants have a wealth of experience guiding couples through these choices. They may also have good perspectives on why holding onto or letting go of certain elements works – or doesn’t.  A little research about your culture or faith may reveal traditions that you would like to include or revive.  Whether it’s a custom from your own culture or one borrowed from another, so long as you find meaning in or feel a genuine connection to a custom, and approach incorporating it with respect, you won’t go wrong.