WHY HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
(with 30 years experience creating and conducting wedding ceremonies)
At a gala wedding I attended at one of America’s National Monuments, The Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia – where no expense was spared (the groom’s father was as generous as he was successful), friends of the couple offered to help with a few aspects of the wedding ceremony and wound-up officiating, photographing and DJ-ing the wedding. On a scale of one to ten, the catered food and drinks, the décor, the cake, the flowers, the world-renowned Planetarium and the Grand Hall, the amenities, the dresses and tuxedos, the atmosphere of love of family and friends, the rings, the parents, the guests, all were elevens. Over the top, world class! A Ben Franklin impersonator even gossiped and smoozed through out the night with most of the three hundred attendees. There were dozens of staff serving and coordinating everything beautifully, from decorating, to welcoming, to seating, to serving drinks, appetizers and dinner, to coat checking, to valet parking cars. The best that money can buy, you might say.
As to the friends of the bride and groom who worked the wedding, well, they were in way over their inexperienced heads. For starters the DJ-friend provided the officiant-friend with a microphone, black iron mic-stand, and hundred-foot cord. The black rig was center stage amidst the white-lit white stage adorned with hundreds of white roses. The black cord snakes its way across the stage in every photo taken of the ceremony. The two inexperienced friends with cameras never thought to mention the distraction of the cord (if they even noticed). When the ceremony started the officiant-friend never did ask the guests to stand for the bride as she came down the aisle. Seated towards the back, I stood for the bride and only then did the three hundred guests stand to welcome the bride and her escort. Unfortunately, the newly ordained minister friend conducting the ceremony also was not aware that she should tell the guests when to sit, and so everyone stood for the entire forty minute ceremony, even the elderly aunts and uncles (some in their nineties) and the mothers with babes in their arms. The officiant-friend was competent enough in reading the ceremony she and the couple had written, but as to the dynamics of a wedding ceremony, she (and the couple) were clueless. Neither the minister’s voice nor the staging were engaging or inspirational. Blocking was non-existant. The bride and groom stood in the same spot for the entire ceremony, their backs to the guests, divided by the black line of the microphone stand that bisected the minister. During the ceremony guests never glimpsed the blissful faces of the bride and groom, except for a moment in profile when they kissed. And the kiss was in the middle of the ceremony, bereft of any dramatic build up to it. The touching love letters that the bride and groom wrote for each other were read to each other after the kiss without the benefit of the microphone that their celebrant now cradled in her arms. Spread out on the stage the bridesmaids and groomsmen faced the audience and seemed more like backups in a chorus line than attendants. Aside from the procession and recession and standing, they had no part in the marriage ritual.
And as for the DJ friend with the amateur equipment, well, at the reception it seemed he was MC-ing a professional sporting event. With every introduction he roared, yelled and exaggerated his enunciations so much I was not sure if I was at a stock car race, a wrestling match or a wedding. “And now let me introduce our bbbbbbrrrrriiiiidddddeeeee and gggggrrrroooommmmm. . . .”
And the friends with cameras, well, they took some three thousand photos. It takes some four hours to look at them all on the website where they were posted for viewing some three months after the wedding: unedited and unorganized. I looked for a photograph they had taken of me and my wife, but after hours of waiting for pictures to load and be displayed, I gave up wading through the mess.
My suggestion: at your wedding, have friends be guests, not workers. Inexperienced and friendly is no replacement for experienced and professional. Every bride deserves a wedding ritual, fit for a queen, not a hodgepodge of elements cobbled together by friends.