Gorgeous spring weather is such a great reminder that wedding season is fast approaching. I’m reminded how much I enjoy hearing from couples searching for a wedding officiant — even those working more last minute with very little time to spare for someone like me who builds personalized weddings. In fact for many officiants who have other jobs, later or last minute is just fine since we can’t plan that far in advance either. However, a former colleague once told me about the many couples who contact them who are simply price shopping or bargain hunting for officiants — before they’ve even spoken to them to hear if they like how they work and whether they connect with them more generally.
I can only guess that this is because couples don’t know that these days there is choice and lots of it. This is particularly true if you are thinking about a Humanist Officiant. I don’t mean in terms of numbers — though we are a growing group, but instead in terms of what your wedding could look like. Humanists fundamentally believe the choice to get married belongs to the couple and so for me that means the wedding must reflect the couple’s values, beliefs, style (within the limits of secular Humanism of course – but then that’s usually why they call us in the first place) but also that couple has the right to decide what the wedding should look and feel like – from the vows to the wording to the rituals or readings and so on. It is truly a wedding about you.
Consider that according to one survey, the average bride spends more than $1100 dollars for a bridal gown. Another site pegs the average Canadian wedding at between 20 and 30 thousand dollars, with a conservative 400 – 700 dollars on accessories alone — outside the cost of the wedding dress and hundreds more (sometimes over a thousand) for shoes — which are often covered up by the dress. While I am all for smart budgeting and avoiding obscene costs for a one day affair, we should consider that guests remember two things the most at a wedding — the bride and her dress and the ceremony. Having both attended and performed many weddings, I can’t stress enough that the officiant should not be a budgetary afterthought. It’s not that I’m condoning an unrealistic request of money, time or energy — particularly that which extends beyond the duties of an officiant — no one wants or can afford that. However a simple chat on the phone will often do to get started and could make a big difference. The truth is most Humanist Officiants in Toronto keep their fees in line with each other — so there aren’t great surprises, but officiants overall do vary in philosophy, approach, belief system and style.
I believe that the right for so many of us to get married in this province is an incredible gift so it’s important to remember that “shopping” for what you perceive to be the “best price” won’t necessarily afford you all that choice – it might just save you 25 or 50 bucks. Find out what “choice” could actually mean for your ceremony. Otherwise, you may never know what you missed.