Benefits of Personalized and Standard Ceremonies

I love writing because I love words.  For some, piecing together a paragraph direclty originates in the general idea expressed.  For me, this is true too.  Yet I also believe that a word reflects an idea, and it is possible to play with words themselves to uncover themes and concepts.

Like writing for students in contrast to the academic community, each piece has its own audience and therefore hue and tone.  Whether an e-mail, blog entry, essay, or ceremony, the style matters.  Indeed, you can consider the multifaceted ceremony examples posted through this site to better grasp this point.  Playing with myriad styles is delightful.  Correspondingly, producing ceremonies from my own ideas, locating passages written by others for inspiration, and adhering to the unique spirit of a couple are equally enjoyable.

About half my couples feel bewildered when it comes to picking the type of ceremony.  Officiant styles abound, and some feel drawn to an officiant for his or her persona.  However, other couples migrate from one officiant to the next and then back again because they are not sure about which kind of ceremony they prefer.  Below is an explanation depicting the benefits and drawbacks of the two categories of ceremony available in contemporary times.  (By the way, I offer both options.)

A personalized ceremony is wonderful for off-beat, intercultural, and classicaly inspired couples.  Typically, it incorporates your love story, anecdotes, excerpts, quotes, poems, and/or song lyrics, special words of appreciation to family and friends, an old-fashioned or new rite, and vows either selected or written by the couple.  If your family and friends do not know your spouse-to-be well, recounting memories and what you love about each other can help gather them into the warmth of your wedding day.  Therefore, no two personalized ceremonies are alike: I custom-tailor each to meet the couple’s vision.  For many, the process is fun.  It helps the couple to concentrate on the strengths and potential issues in their relationship.  For such reasons, when couples work closely with their officiant, they develop a relationship that can come with some perks, such as establishing meetings at mutually convenient sites, the officiant doing extra research to make sure that the couple finds the perfect unity candle or ring bearer pillow.  The officiant may even create a book with the ceremony through various means — internet self-publishing tools ( and artistic talents (i.e. a self-bound memory book with calligraphy).

On a flip side, they can be time-consuming for those who are planning a wedding on short-notice or who do not have the time to meet with me a few times (at least once) to share the ingredients for the ceremony.  They also come with higher honorarium levels: it is quite common to encounter officiants who request $700 or more if they offer a super cool luxury, which is the case for cantors.

Should time constraints or distance (as in destination weddings) restrict your ability to meet your officiant to tell your story, then a standard ceremony might be the way to go.  Contrary to what you may presume, the officiant and couple can still develop a bond through meeting, phone calls, and e-mails when the couple prefers a standard ceremony.  Arguably more importantly, standard ceremonies already exist: couples may choose one immediately or wait a bit to contemplate the significance of the wording and tone of various pre-written ceremonies prior to picking the one that best represents their beliefs and relationship.  Furthermore, couples who focus on making their personalized ceremony entertaining too much may miss the underlying reason for it.  While each marriage undeniably differs, great relationships share similar features.  A thoughtful, well-written standard ceremony by a professional officiant, minister, or celebrant is certain to integrate reflections about what it takes to build a long-lasting, happy union.  Standard or pre-written ceremonies are associated with lower honorariums.

At the same time, standard ceremonies may be too “cookie-cutter” for couples with diverse interests and viewpoints.  It may come across as overly ritualistic or formal, and the couple may want a more precise ceremony in which they have complete authority to add, adjust, or veto suggestions by their officiants.

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