"Short and Sweet" / by SCOTT DEMARCO

One of the most interesting parts of planning wedding ceremonies with couples is the things they want in their ceremony. I happen to custom write all of my ceremonies and of course there is time spent in initial meetings, ceremony drafts, reading selections, music/dj/sound coordination, rehearsal, travel, and more.

Here are a few of my favorites.

"You charge that much for a 20 minute ceremony?"

Honestly, given my time and effort, I’m not making much. Maybe I should charge more?

"We want no mention of God."

That’s fine, but 90% of the time what they really mean is “we don’t want a religious ceremony.” Dogma out, spirituality in.

“We’re not sure we need a rehearsal” or even better, “Officiant does not need to be present at rehearsal.”

To both I answer that if we have to rehearse in the parking lot at McDonald’s, we’ll do it. Weddings cost an average of $27,000. I think you should rehearse. Also, given that there’s just three of us being “ceremonial” I would like to attend the rehearsal. Just sayin’.

“We want it to be short and sweet.”

When I hear this, my response is, “Define ‘short and sweet’.” This request is inevitably coming from the groom, and when I probe further it turns out that 30 minutes is short and sweet. When I remind them that,

  • they have asked ten girls to buy dresses “they can wear again” and ten guys to rent tuxes;
  • paid a lot of money for their event space;
  • invited 250 people to their wedding;
  • they only get married once (hopefully),

then suddenly they understand that “short and sweet” might seem like a cruel joke.

I was raised a Catholic and I get that some folks don’t want the full-on Mass with wedding that kept some of us in church for an excruciating hour-and-a-half while choking on incense. But seriously, thirty minutes of meaningful (and often fun) time spent together exchanging vows is really ideal.

“Short and sweet” is for a Justice of the Peace and I guarantee you that Mom, Grandma, and your bridesmaids are expecting more than 5 minutes of ceremony. Why bother seating 250 people for a 10 minute wedding? If it takes more time for your guests and your bridal party to enter and exit your ceremony space than it takes to have the actual ceremony, then maybe re-think the ceremony.

I recently did a beautiful ceremony for a couple that had four readings and their best man and maid-of-honor speech within the ceremony. It was fabulous! The two lucky speech-makers were free to party on for the reception, and it was sweet and meaningful to have six folks involved in the ceremony. Oh, it took 30 minutes by the way.

My one hope is that the couples I marry will live together happily, prosperously, and that their marriage will last a lifetime.

My one fear as that their marriage will be, well, “short and sweet.”