Frequently Asked Questions
Here is where I present a collection of the most frequently asked questions about my services.
- Why might we choose a Celebrant, rather than another kind of officiant?
- What is the process like?
- How far in advance should we book our wedding?
- Do you perform ceremonies only in New York?
- Do you work with couples who are eloping?
- Do you officiate other events (vow renewals, civil unions, etc.)?
- Do you do any wedding planning?
- Are there any other services we should be aware of?
- Do you have a contract that we must sign?
- What are your fees?
- How does the payment schedule work?
- Do you have back up in case something happens on the day of our event?
- What will you wear to the ceremony?
1. Why might we choose a Celebrant, rather than another kind of officiant?
Celebrants are highly trained professionals, legally qualified to marry couples. As a celebrant, I specialize in custom, one-of-a-kind ceremonies that reflect “your story” and the most important parts of your personality and life. Many couples who are not formally connected with a religious institution and aren’t interested in having a simple civil ceremony don’t know where to turn—this is where celebrants can be very helpful. Wedding officiants work with couples who wish to draw upon their faith tradition in interesting and symbolic ways. Celebrants provide a valuable option when the bride and groom come from different faith traditions, and we serve the ever-growing number of brides and grooms who consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” And finally, we respect couples who want to have an entirely secular—but fabulously customized and special—ceremony. Just because someone is legally qualified to marry a couple, doesn’t mean that he or she will provide the bride and groom with the level and quality of service that is key to having an extraordinary, unforgettable wedding ceremony.
2. What is the process like?
The thing I really try to impress upon my couples is that I am here to do the work; I want you to enjoy the process. I certainly don’t want to contribute to the hassles and pressures of wedding planning. I usually begin by learning about “your story”….how you met, fell in love, what you love about your partner, hopes for the future, and so on. This is done through conversations and a tried and true set of questions developed over the years. I draft a narrative of your personal story, which generally anchors the ceremony—all with your approval and suggestions. The narrative can, I believe, reflect the levity and seriousness of the day, in just the tone you wish. It creates an intimacy among the guests that is not possible in a standardized, “cookie cutter” ceremony.
I then work with you on the other components of the ceremony, helping you review vows or assisting you as you develop your own. I will work tirelessly with you to find ways, large and small, that your ceremony speaks to your heart. This would include reviewing readings, discussing rituals and wedding rituals from all faiths and cultures, considering the participation of your friends and loved ones in the event and much more! My hope is that you find this a creative process that gets you excited about the wedding and re-affirms all that you love about your partner.
3. How far in advance should we book our wedding?
For many couples, the engagement and period of wedding planning is lengthy one. Like securing the venue you desire, working with a celebrant of your choice, requires advanced planning. I make arrangements to perform ceremonies a year or more from the wedding date. However, many couples select officiants three to six months before the event. I am happy to speak with couples at any point before there wedding and have officiated ceremonies with stunning turn around times (days, in some cases). I want to serve all of the couples that I can, but having an appropriate amount time to work together ensures that I can provide the highest quality service possible.
4. Do you perform ceremonies only in New York?
I perform many ceremonies in New York City but am certainly willing to officiate wedding ceremonies well beyond my home. I am prepared to officiate in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, throughout New York, including Westchester County and Long Island.
5. Do you work with couples who are eloping?
Yes! New York (and surrounding areas) has become a fabulous location for destination weddings. Likewise, there are many couples who wish to marry without fanfare and great planning. I am pleased to accommodate your wishes and assist you in preparing for a last minute affair.
6. Do you officiate other events (vow renewals, civil unions, etc.)?
I Do! I am delighted to speak with you about a meaningful vow renewal, commitment ceremony, or civil union. My practices for these ceremonies are the same as outlined for traditional wedding ceremonies.
7. Do you do any wedding planning?
I am not a wedding planner or coordinator—although I work with many qualified professionals in this field—I am happy to assist with certain wedding planning aspects for my clients. Particularly for people who are planning weddings from another city (or country, in some cases!), I am delighted to assist with a variety of tasks, be it helping with venue research, making hotel preparations for guests, or assisting with flowers, music, and other details. My goal is to experience the least amount of stress during your wedding planning, as possible. Working together, we will figure out how to make that happen.
8. Are there any other services we should be aware of?
For those individuals who have selected an officiant (or who live far from New York), I am pleased to offer a personal consulting service to help you develop a special ceremony, that will meet your needs. These consulting partnerships will be customized based on the needs of each individual couple.
9. Do you have a contract that we must sign?
I do have a short, concise contract that I ask my couples to sign. It is straightforward and primarily outlines my responsibilities to you with respect to ceremony preparation and revisions, working with your other wedding vendors, participating in a wedding rehearsal, and other wedding details. It is designed to help you think about my services for your wedding and help everyone feel assured that we are working together as a team.
10. What are your fees?
There are a number of variables at play in the determination of my fees. A full service ceremony generally runs between $550 and $900, depending upon rehearsal requirements and the complexity of the ceremony. Last-minute, “elopement” and simple ceremonies vary by degree of ceremony customization and requested planning assistance.
11. How does the payment schedule work?
Normally, I request that half of payment be paid when the contract is signed. The other half of the fee is due when the ceremony is over.
12. Do you have back up in case something happens on the day of our event?
I am pleased to say that I have never missed a ceremony. Typically, I arrive very early for the event and stay through all of the paperwork (signing the wedding license) and any photographs you might want. Under catastrophic circumstances, you will be served by another officiant trained by the U.S. Celebrant Foundation and Institute. I am part of a strong network of highly trained and caring wedding officiants throughout the Northeast and America.
13. What will you wear to the ceremony?
As with all aspects of the ceremony, my goal is to please you. I am happy to wear a sophisticated and appropriate dress or suit that blends with the color and style of the bridal party. If you prefer, I will wear a conservative black, dress or suit. Likewise, I can accommodate more specialized ceremonies with a beautiful robe or ceremony-specific attire (casual clothing for a park or beach wedding, for instance). I am happy to photograph several clothing options and allow you to choose exactly what you’d like for me to wear.
Photos by John Mazlish Wedding Photography