FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, Rowan Atkinson, 1994.

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, Rowan Atkinson, 1994.

Wedding officiants are the vendors of choice in our Vendor Viewpoint blog today. To begin – hands up who remembers the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral? There is a hilarious but toe-curling segment in that movie where a hapless couple are being married by a priest who, it becomes quickly apparent, is a nervous, novice priest performing his first ever wedding ceremony. Blunders, gaffes and slip-ups galore. If you haven’t seen it you can watch it here.

Yes it’s a movie and not real life, and yes it’s funny – how could it not be when the priest is played by Mr Bean himself, actor Rowan Atkinson. But really, can you imagine? And it begs the question; how important is your choice of officiant? Answer – VERY! This is one extremely important person at your wedding. After all, you will be saying the most meaningful and profound words of your life in front of them. Better make sure that a) you actually like them b) you have met them either personally or via Skype/Facetime, or have at least had extensive online or phone chats, c) they are fully on board with everything you want your ceremony to be, and d) they are available. Careful research is required here.

Imagine booking someone sight unseen and with minimal prior discussion, then discovering on the Big Day that they have a voice like a knife on a plate, and no they do NOT think it appropriate that your cousin read an excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey. This is one area of your wedding day where you do not wing it. With this important decision in mind, we did our usual Vendor Viewpoint thing and went to the experts with a Q and A.

Now, this was hard. Whistler is replete with superb officiants, how could we choose? So we acted like the professionals we are – we threw names in a hat. We’d have been delighted with any name that emerged, but the two lucky winners to be pinned down and placed  under our searchlight are (drum roll please) Tracy Kerr and Jeremy Postal. Both are locally based, both experienced and professional. We subjected these two to a list of questions, and while all officiants are individuals with their own personal styles, we are confident their answers are pretty typical of answers from all on our list of preferred officiants.

Ladies first – Tracy Kerr. We love Tracy for her beautifully calm and kind demeanour, her professionalism and organisation, and her sense of adventure. How many heli or stormy-mountain-top weddings is that now Tracy?

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1. How far in advance can/should couples book you?
Couples should really start looking to book months in advance. Summer weekends typically book up to a year in advance. We often can do more than one ceremony in a day, but it would depend on start times and travel distance.
Whistler has become an all year vacation destination, with traffic becoming more of an issue when estimating how long it will take to get from ceremony to ceremony. I personally like to be at least 20 minutes early, so am really cautious when booking more than one ceremony in a day. Some couples do book last minute, which can be accommodated, but it is best to be safe.
The slower months are November and March, although some couples do plan weddings at this time.

2. Do you have a template ceremony?
Yes I have several ceremony and vow options, with the introduction, legal vows, ring exchange and pronouncement being the same, although of course changes can be made to all but the legal vows.

3. Do you personalize ceremonies?
Yes, many couples find a special reading, from a book, song lyrics, poem etc. There are lots of readings that can be found on line as well. Marriage commissioners are only authorized to do civil ceremonies, so any religious readings should not be included in a civil ceremony. Our celebrants and officiants associated with a church or faith group are responsible for those.

4. What is the most frequent question you are asked?
I don’t think there are any specifically frequent questions, short of cost and availability. All couples
have different questions and concerns on how the ceremony will flow.

5. What are some of the most unusual ceremonies you have performed?
Every ceremony is so different, which is one of the things that I truly love about being a commissioner. I have had butterflies and doves released, several varieties of animal ring bearers, theme weddings, surprise string quartets, etc. I haven’t had to dress in a theme costume yet, but I think that would be good fun!
There are also ceremonies that take a totally unpredictable, yet memorable, turn. I have had battling flower
girls, overheated or too cold guests fainting, forgotten rings, (replacements borrowed from guests), sudden thunder storms and instant downpours, black bears behind the altar….you name it. I officiated a summer outdoor farm wedding, and while standing casually at the altar waiting for the wedding to commence, a wasp flew up my skirt, stinging me at least 4 times! It probably looked quite funny as I refrained from cursing as it flew back out of my skirt!

6. Is there anything in particular you would like couples to know?
I think couples should really, thoroughly communicate with their commissioner, celebrant, officiant to make sure they get exactly what they want for their ceremony. It is important to meet as well, so that you have a chance to get to know the person that is marrying you, and feel comfortable and relaxed with them. Some couples just want a quick and legal ceremony, which is fine.

Next up – Jeremy Postal, aka Whistler Wedding Pastor. Jeremy is an all around cool dude. We love him for his fantastic sense of humour, his terrific listening skills, his kindness, and his willingness to be a really good sport.(don’t miss the image of his storm trooper wedding!) Note: In addition to civil ceremonies, Jeremy is an ordained Christian minister, and is authorized to perform faith-based ceremonies as well.

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1. How far in advance can/should couples book you?

How far in advance a couple should advance book really does depend on the day and time of year. For example, trying to book space a month or two before popular Whistler wedding weekends like August long-weekend is going to be tough. It doesn’t mean it is impossible, but you just might need to have a little more flexibility with your timeline. Of course, mid-week last-minute bookings are always welcome as well as off-season times like October and November. That said, booking your wedding officiant further in advance is a good idea as it allows more time for us to get to know each other, craft your custom wedding ceremony, and work towards creating something that is meaningful and memorable.

2. Do you have a template ceremony?
All of my ceremonies are custom developed and written with each couple. No two love stories are alike, and no ceremony should be either. When I meet with couples for their ceremony consultation we work through a large template of questions designed to help us build out a ceremony that is uniquely theirs. By the end of that ceremony consultation we will have a really good idea of the rhythm and flow, the tone and atmosphere of the ceremony along with a bunch of the details locked in.
3. Do you personalize ceremonies?
Every ceremony is custom and unique. I love hearing couples’ love stories; who they are, how they met, when they ‘knew’ they were in love, etc. The more time I spend with a couple (whether via Skype, Facetime, phone, email, or over pints), the more personalized we are able to craft the ceremony. The ceremony is a really special and intimate part of the wedding and choosing the right person to lead you through the vows and “I do’s” and pronouncing you husband and wife and all of that good stuff is a really important decision. The officiant really helps set the tone & atmosphere of the ceremony, and so it’s important you’re able to make that connection with them.
As an ordained Christian minister, I am available to officiate faith-based weddings. Roughly ten percent of the weddings I officiate are faith-based and the other ninety percent are either completely civil or some kind of hybrid of faith-civil ceremony.
4. What is the most frequent question you are asked?
The most frequent question, by far, is around “how to write wedding vows?” The vows are the most intimate part of the ceremony and the more I can step away from the vow process and let each couple lean into the vow exchange, the better. The best vows are always the ones written by the couple and, though it can seem overwhelming at first, it is not difficult to do. In fact, everyone already knows their vows deep down inside…..they just have to find the time and space to thoughtfully reflect on how they want to say it. Coaching couples through the vow writing process is one my favourite parts of my role as wedding officiant!
5. What is the most unusual question you have been asked?
No questions stand out as particularly unusual as I always expect that each couple is unique and their stories and questions are equally unique. That said, I love when couples start a sentence with, “We have this crazy idea and we’re wondering if….” and then they go on to tell me their idea for their wedding. This sentence, and ones like it, usually result in some pretty memorable weddings!
6. Is there anything in particular you would like couples to know?The wedding ceremony, though sometimes seen as a simple formality to the rest of the party, often surprises couples with how meaningful (and emotional) it is. Your wedding day is a milestone, a marker, something meaningful that should be remembered for years to come and it is worthwhile to spend some real time thinking through the different pieces of ceremony. No ceremony should be a cookie-cutter template because each love story is different and unique. An experienced and professional wedding officiant will provide so much more than a template: they’ll help you celebrate, they’ll invite your friends and family into the celebration, and they’ll provide a wedding or elopement ceremony that is crafted around your love story and who you are.
Enjoy our gallery of some of Tracy’s and Jeremy’s ceremonies! Click on an image to enlarge. At the end of the gallery you will find the Province of British Columbia government link to search for officiants, and the link to Jeremy Postal’s Whistler Wedding Pastor website.
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Getting married in the Province of British Columbia weblink here
Jeremy Postal’s web link here