Feature Friday: Married by Evan – Officiant
With more than 100 ceremonies in his pocket, Evan from Married by Evan shares his advice on all things officiant!
Who and what is Married By Evan? How did you get started and why?
Married by Evan is a business providing wedding officiant services for couples across Hampton Roads. I started this business in 2019 because after years of officiating a few weddings a year, I had really fallen in love with everything “wedding”. I also realized how many couples, especially ones that were unable to afford hiring a professional planner/coordinator, were intimidated by the thought of their wedding day. I wanted to be able to partner with couples to really help provide guidance, support and encouragement as they began their lives together.
How long have you been an officiant?
A little over 10 year
Couples sometimes have a hard time when it comes to creating their own wedding vows, what advice can you give them?
One of my favorite part of ceremonies that include personalized vows is the “you go first … I should have gone first” dialogue. I love it so much because almost every couple feels like their vows for their mate will fall short and then always knock it out of the park. The bottom line here is just be you. It sounds super cliché, but your fiancé just wants to hear how much they mean to you. My biggest recommendation (probably against a lot of professional advice) would be to not look around at other people’s vows. While I think this works if you are just looking for some traditional vows or other basic elements, it is so easy to look around and find so many different versions of personalized vows that it can just make things even more difficult. No one else is you … he/she fell in love with YOU so just be you. A great tip for many people is to just start a voice recording on your phone and just start talking. Once you have that, you have a great starting point to start putting them on paper!
Also, put it on paper. It is such a romantic notion to go into it with the vows memorized, but there is so much going on during your big day that even a seasoned pro can get flustered and then it just turns to ad lib. This is a good case where being a planner can be more romantic than flying by the seat of your pants.
Candle and sand ceremonies have always been fun additions but what are some other ideas you have seen couples do to represent two people coming together as one?
I’ve seen some really cool ideas. A big one that is gaining popularity is handfasting. In this traditionally Celtic ceremony, couples grab hands (similar to handshake style) and have 3 separate ropes draped over their wrists. These can be draped by the officiant or by individual family members (the more traditional style). The ropes are then loosely tied in a traditional knot fashion by the officiant. The couple then slips their hands out while simultaneously grabbing the individual ends of the ropes and pulling them into a tight knot. This is a really beautiful ceremony and creates a really cool keepsake for the couple.
Other fun examples are finding creative ways to incorporate your venue/surroundings into the ceremony. A great example of this was a couple whose ceremony was in a brewery and they shared a toast mid ceremony from the same stein (glass).
These can also spill over into the couple’s reception. I had one couple who were big sci-fi fans that used an authentic sword to cut their cake together. This may sound strange or too eccentric for some, but it was special and fun to them and THAT is what really matters at the end of the day.
When it comes to finding an officiant what advice can you give couples who are still looking? What are some questions they should be asking?
Based on the questions I have heard from so many couples, I would say to be confident in what you want and don’t be afraid to find someone you can connect with. It is important that your officiant has a good balance of experience and suggestions while making sure to put your wishes and desires first.
At the same time, every couple is different so don’t assume your officiant knows exactly what you need. If you know what you want, be confident to let him/her know. If you aren’t sure, be open and let them know. The more communication the better in my opinion.
Also consider things you may want your officiant to be a part of and be sure they are OK or available with them. These may include rehearsals, blessings for food or other portions of the day, etc.
Another thing to consider, especially given the past couple of months, is what is their policy on something happening with your ceremony day/time. No one ever wants plans to change, but many couples have been sent reeling this year because of the pandemic so be sure to consider their policies on cancellations/postponements so you won’t be surprised should something happen that is outside of your control.
A big thing I try to work with couple on, especially those without a planner/coordinator is their other vendors. Being an officiant allows us to work with some great people in the industry and to know many of them individually so we have some great insight into ones that may works great for them as a couple. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations if you are having a hard time finding someone for a specific need. This is also a big reason why I try to encourage couples to NOT select your officiant last in your list. I can’t tell you how many couples I have met with who at some point in the conversation say “I wish we had met earlier, this could have saved me a lot of time/money”.
What services does Married by Evan offer and how often should couples meet with their officiant for each one?
I currently offer (3) unique services for day-of as well as pre-marriage planning.
The first of the three services available is a Quick Sign Service. This is very similar to a justice of the peace or courthouse style wedding, but I will meet the couple at the location of their choice. Some couples choose to just meet me in my office and others choose a place that has a special significance for them. For this service, the only real time I meet with them is on their wedding day. I have a short list of questions I send them to help make sure the day is special, even though it is just a quick, casual service.
The second available service is an Elopement Service. This service is perfect for couples who are just looking to have a small, intimate ceremony with a few friends and family. These ceremonies are generally held at an overall smaller venue like someone’s home, on the oceanfront, in a garden; I’ve even done a few in breweries. There really is no limitation to where you can have this type of service. This service generally involves a phone call or video chat as well as a detailed questionnaire to help provide some detail and insight so I can create a ceremony that fits their style and overall desire.
The last service available is the Full Wedding Service. This service is perfect for couples who are having an all-out celebration. With this service, I try to meet with the couple as soon as possible. This meeting is both a chance for us to meet and get to know each other and for me to hear their love story. This helps me craft a unique and personalized ceremony just for them. This is also a great chance for us to discuss their existing plans and for me to suggest some potential additional elements and options they may not have considered. This is the main reason for trying to meet as soon as we can because if the couple likes a suggestion and wants to implement it, it allows them plenty of time to make it happen.
As a supplement to these service options, I also offer pre-marriage planning (I don’t like calling it counseling as this term generally gives the impression that something is wrong … not the way I want my couples to start). These sessions are available as an a la carte service and can range from a single session up to any number the couple feels they want/need.
For more officiant information & services contact Married By Evan!
Instagram: @Married By Evan