I’m on a turbulance-filled plane ride back from California, where I just used my Universal Life Church credentials for the first time to marry two friends in a shady grove with giant pinecones and an active golf course behind us. California recognizes the ULC as a denomination and me as a minister. Ain’t that some shit?
I did hardly anything in the way of ceremony planning because the bride was very hands-on and did pretty much every task herself. She sent me the “script” for the whole thing a few weeks ago and now that I’ve done the deed and it’s fresh in my mind, I felt I should make some notes so I’m better prepared if I am ever asked to do this again. If you are also a magical Internet wizard – I mean minister – maybe me talking through this will help you as well or you might have some tips for me!
It would help if I actually cared about weddings and ceremony trends but honestly, I’ve never been a wedding person. I’m always bored at them and I didn’t really plan my own that well. I’m missing that gene almost every female seems to have which causes them to plan every last detail of their ideal wedding by the age of five. Then small changes are made in the plan every now and then as new trends emerge in magazines or on Pinterest. Not me. So when the future bride said she wanted some kind of humanist ceremony I had to look up what the hell that meant. We kept meaning to discuss what exactly they wanted but in the end, she researched what she wanted and doled it out to those of us involved in it. Cool with me, although now I will feel more comfortable having an idea of how things actually work on my side of it.
She knew there was no way I was going to remember all the parts of my script so I used a small, cute blank notebook to write in my portion, as well as stage notes about what I or the others should be doing at critical points. ALWAYS IN PENCIL – I brought a pencil and a nice clean Pink Pearl eraser so I could make changes as we decided on specifics while talking things out and during the rehearsal. Since there were some times when I had to put the book down to do other tasks, I think I need a bookmark so I don’t waste time nervously flipping through the pages. Probably best to use a book with a ribbon bookmark attached so I don’t have to worry about dropping it. A whole blank book for one ceremony might seem wasteful, but I could use it for multiple ceremonies as well as take further notes about the couple and the day. That gives me a reason to use all the blank books I own and never use because I feel I don’t have anything important enough to write in them.
I did mess up twice as a result of: not making a note where I needed it about if I should turn off music at one point or let it play out, and then totally ignoring a note I had about introducing the second reader. I must be diligent in my note taking at the time we are discussing things, even if it means scribbling it in fast and making it clearer later. As far as missing my note, maybe it needed to be its’ own page rather than in parentheses at the bottom of a section. Or are colored pencils erasable? Maybe changing colors would help get my attention but still be adjustable.
Backups, backups, backups for everything. Just because you aren’t the event coordinator doesn’t mean you can’t help with ensuring backups for things you will be responsible for in the ceremony. This ceremony had a Unity Cup section and I was given a bottle of mead to pour in the glasses. We also had a backup bottle for whatever reason we might need it. (Did we have a bottle opener? WE DID NOT, but the best man earned his title by opening it with the bottom of a lighter – don’t me how but I was in awe.) The music was four songs broken into three Spotify playlists on an iPad. When the recessional song wasn’t available because of an error, we had the songs also available on someone’s iPhone.
The wedding license is terrifying. The ceremony is nothing compared to filling this thing out properly. I don’t know if every state/county is as rigid, and I understand the reason for wanting perfection in a legal document but OMG I had chest pains when I looked at my officiant paperwork that came with the license form. Along with the example that listed all the ways I could make this paper unacceptable, I had a half sheet where the witnesses could write down their address for me so I could slowly and deliberately (holding my breath) fill their addresses in correctly where it mattered. Originally my plan was to write it all in pencil and go over it in pen after proofing the information one billion times. My fear of the forbidden ink smudges if I tried to erase any showing pencil kept me from doing that. I am no ink pen expert but I feel there has to be some kind of quick drying, smudge proof pen that I am willing to invest in. Do they still make erasable ink pens? I absolutely need a wedding pen besides my mechanical pencil and a Pink Pearl. (UPDATE: I am currently in love with Pentel’s Energel fast drying black ink pens with .05 tip.) Along with that, a wedding information binder.
Technically, my job isn’t over yet. I am responsible for making sure the paperwork is submitted to the county clerk with 10 days of the ceremony. Being a destination wedding complicated this a little bit. The wedding was Saturday, we are all leaving on Sunday and in order to mail the license on Monday it needs to travel in a backpack all day long getting shoved under airplane seats. The original plan was something else but plans change. In the future, I will look for protective storage so I don’t worry about the condition it’s going to be in when I get to the post office. What is happening in this case is the Maid of Honor will save the day. She leaves the resort Sunday, has time in Sacramento Monday before her flight to take the paperwork to a post office and mail it Priority Express with tracking ($19.99). I will track it obsessively until I see it has arrived. I don’t feel as good about this as doing it myself, but I do know this person is trustworthy and takes the task seriously. I will be prepared next time, if there is a next time.
UPDATE! The very important paperwork has been delivered to the county clerk office at 10:38a.m. today! 🙂