I went to an interfaith wedding this past weekend. After the ceremony, I was struck by the differences between the styles of the two officiants, how one’s words turned me off while the other’s resonated with me. The first officiant was a very energetic man, grabbing the mike and working the audience. The second officiant was calmer, more mild, and spoke directly to the couple. The first officiant was a “God man” — every other word out of his mouth was “God bless this” and “thank God for that.” I kept getting the impression of a teacher’s pet who compliments the teacher even on the playground, just in case she’s listening. I don’t think the second officiant mentioned God more than a couple times, but his words and manner clearly expressed the holiness of the event.
But the difference between the two really became clear at the final blessing. The first officiant kept stressing that the best way to avoid divorce was to attend church/temple together and to pray together. First of all, I hate wedding ceremonies that discuss divorce statistics — it’s pretty tacky. But while the first officiant kept harping on the format of the couple’s spirituality, he never once mentioned its content. To him, as long as you pray, or mention God a lot, you’ll be fine — regardless of what you pray about or why you are praying. Compare this to the second officiant, who made no mention about services or prayers or traditions. He instead concluded his blessing by reading aloud the words the bride and groom had used to describe each other. Unlike the other officiant, he did not stress the format of their commitment, but instead focused on its content. It was the simplest and most beautiful part of the whole ceremony.
So when you are chosing your officiants, be sure to talk to them about what they plan to talk about. Make sure that their idea of spirituality and ceremony resonates with yours.