When we first started wedding planning, I asked Shaun what the most important things to him were. His response was immediate: the ceremony and the food. Neither of these responses really surprised me, but it turned out that both of these extremely important factors would cause us a few headaches fairly early on in the planning process.
From the beginning of our engagement, I pictured our ceremony scene similar to the one above – outside, garden, gazebo. But it wasn’t necessarily as easy as finding a venue and calling it a day. Is anything ever really that easy in wedding planning? I’m starting to think the answer is no…
For starters, I was raised Catholic and Shaun is a Lutheran. Not a huge scandal in today’s world, but it did pose some problems. If we wanted to get married in my parent’s church (the church where both they and my grandparents were married), it would have to be by a Catholic priest. This decision should have been fairly easy, because based on my vision above, it should be pretty clear that I wasn’t interested in a Catholic mass or getting married in a Catholic church. But to take the ceremony outside…well…that caused a bit of a scandal for a few minutes. Once we found the perfect venue, though, the dust settled pretty quickly and we moved on to bigger and better things.
Things got trickier when it came to deciding on an officiant. It made us really sit down and think about what kind of ceremony we wanted to have. Short? Yes. Spiritual? Yes. Non-denominational? We decided this would be the best option for us as a couple at this time – it would be a way to incorporate our beliefs and also make sure that all of our guests were able to feel included in the ceremony. (If that statement doesn’t make sense to you, try imagining a Catholic mass as an outsider, someone who has no idea what’s going on. I imagine it is a very, very strange thing indeed.)
The trouble was finding someone who could fulfill these requirements for us who would be willing to marry us outside, who was available locally (remember our rural Wisconsin dilemma!) and who wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg. After a few disappointing phone calls (particularly the one to Shaun’s childhood pastor who simply told us, “no, but good luck anyway”) Shaun remembered a woman from another wedding he had attended in the past. He called her, checked for if she had our date available and after a short conversation and the “ok” from me, booked her. And that’s how Gloria Butler became the woman who would marry us to each other. I think she’s a one of a kind officiant, especially in such a small area where everyone is very dedicated to this or that church. We were very, very lucky to find and book her early.
I think it may be a shock to some of my family members to see our wedding officiated by a woman, but Gloria’s personality and willingness to work with us on our ceremony vision for a fair price is exactly what Shaun and I need for our wedding day.
Have you ever been to an outside ceremony? Have you ever seen an “unusual” officiant? I’d love to hear what guests at those weddings thought, or if they thought anything of it at all!