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Frequently Asked Questions 

What makes you different from other officiants?

I take the time to get to know you. By listening deeply and with true curiosity, I learn what you love about each other and why this is the person you’ve decided to marry. And this is what I reflect back in your wedding ceremony. 

 

The ceremonies I create are absolutely unique. Rather than sending you several versions of a ceremony template for you to choose from, I work with you to create a ceremony “just for you.” I write an original piece based on your story together and the love you share that’s part of the ceremony. Once I get to know you, I make suggestions for readings, quotes, rituals and music that might have meaning for you. In short, I take a decidedly non “cookie-cutter” approach. You are unique; why shouldn’t your ceremony be?

 

After your big day, I send you a lovely keepsake copy of your entire wedding ceremony.

This is something couples cherish and read together for years to come. 

 

Finally, I have thirteen years’ experience officiating weddings and other ceremonies. It's my calling, my true work and I do it with joy and with love!

Why not just have a friend or family member officiate our wedding?

Sometimes this can be a perfect choice, yet it’s important to consider a few things before making this important decision. First, this person may love you, but are they a good public speaker? Do they have the writing and organizational skills to put together a meaningful and heartfelt ceremony? Do they recognize that the ceremony is ultimately about you?

 

Also, if your friend or loved one officiates your wedding, they won’t be able to witness and “take in” the moment in the same way. They’ll be focused (as they should be) on their role and the job they’re doing. They won’t be able to relax and enjoy the celebration of your union.

 

Finally, a professional officiant does more than deliver the ceremony. She helps facilitate your rehearsal so that you and your wedding party feel comfortable on the big day. She arrives early before the wedding to do everything from test the sound system to check in with the venue to make sure everything is set to go smoothly for your big event. After all the time, energy and resources you’ve invested in making this day special, isn’t it worth that peace of mind?​

What if we decide to have a family member or friend officiate - can you help us?

Yes! Please check out my Writing & Consulting page for more info.

 

How do we set up a meeting with you?

I offer couples a chance to connect to see if we are a good match. We schedule a video or voice call and spend a little time getting to know each other. Most of the couples I’ve worked with told me they knew right away that I was a perfect fit for them.

It’s very important to choose an officiant that feels right to you both. You want to feel good about the person standing up there with you at one of the most important moments in your life. How do you find the right officiant? By talking to several experienced and professional folks and then “going with your gut.”

 

To set up a meeting, email arissa@aweddingwithheart.com or call (206) 384-9843. You can also use the easy form on the Contact page.

What are your fees and how does this work?

What are your fees and how does this work?

Fees start at $250 for a simple paperwork signing (an exchange of vows and signing your certificate). The average for full weddings in Seattle is $925; Seattle elopements average $525. Ceremonies outside the city have an additional travel charge. Once I know the details of your ceremony and what you have in mind, I can give you a firm quote. 

 

In addition to the many hours spent writing your "Love Story", creating and crafting your unique ceremony, my fee includes time needed to communicate with you to prepare your custom ceremony. It also reflects my arriving early on your wedding day to ensure all goes smoothly. In addition, there may be a rehearsal, traveling to and from your venue and more.

 

Finally, my fee includes ceremony revisions, emails and phone contact and support, wedding planning guidance and submitting your signed legal paperwork to the County. 

My goal is not necessarily to have the lowest fee but to offer the highest level of personalization and service. As I tell couples looking for an officiant: make sure their heart is in their work. Mine certainly is. . .

Do you offer premarital coaching?

Yes! It's a foundational piece of my work. Please click here for more info

 

Once we book with you, what happens next?

After we’ve decided to work together, I will send you an agreement that outlines the details of your wedding day along with my responsibilities and commitment to you. You then return to me with your signatures and a $300 deposit to reserve your wedding date and time. The remainder is paid one month before your wedding.

 

Now we begin our work together creating your one-of-a-kind ceremony. I will send you selections for various parts of the ceremony as well as some questions that help me to write your Love Story. Approximately 30 to 90 days before your wedding day I will send you a draft of the ceremony for you to look at and make changes and suggestions. 

 

I am also available by phone or email anytime during the planning process to answer questions or talk over concerns.

 

How long is a wedding ceremony?

Most non-religious ceremonies are about 20 to 25 minutes, which includes the entrance/processional, the ceremony and recessional. Elopements or "Simple & Sweet" ceremonies are typically about 10 to 15 minutes.

As far as the length of your ceremony goes, you want to make sure you have enough time (after your heart stops pounding!) to relax and actually be in this moment you’ve been moving toward for so long. But you also don’t want to be up there so long you and your guests start to get itchy. What I’ve found to be more important than the number of minutes is whether the elements of the ceremony feel right and true to you. And that is what I do – help you create a ceremony that is all yours.

 

On the wedding day, when do you arrive?

I typically arrive 45 minutes early so I can check in with the couple, their wedding party and family. I also walk through the ceremony space to make sure everything is in order, check the sound and touch base with the DJ, musicians, venue coordinator, etc. to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Do we need a wedding rehearsal?

It depends. If it’s a tiny ceremony, with just you and a couple of witnesses, then probably not. But if you have a wedding party - bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and a ring bearer – then I highly recommend it. You’ve put a lot of time, energy and money planning this once-in-a-lifetime experience – a rehearsal can help ensure that your vision becomes reality.

 

What happens at a rehearsal?

Basically, practicing all the parts of the ceremony where someone moves, saving the words and special rituals for the big day. There is a run-through of the processional and recessional, establishing where you and your wedding party will stand at the altar, handing off flowers, who will hold the rings, etc.

 

This can be a time when people start to get nervous – the wedding is right around the corner, family dynamics are at play and sometimes, important people are meeting for the first time. For me, it’s essential to use humor and have fun so that everyone feels at ease. I want you to walk away feeling relaxed and confident that you’re in good hands.

 

How long does a rehearsal last?

I typically allow for 45 minutes to one hour for a rehearsal. Many venues schedule rehearsals back-to-back, so it’s important to start on time so that you have the benefit of all your allotted time.

 

What about writing our own vows?

Absolutely! This ceremony belongs to you. For some couples, this can be a great opportunity to put their commitment and promises to each other in their own words. I’ve heard everything from tender and intimate to downright hilarious. I work closely with couples writing their own vows - offering feedback, ensuring that your vows are balanced with one another in terms of length and tone, even printing and having them for you on the big day.

 

Can children and other family members take part in our ceremony?

Of course! I will help you find meaningful ways to include your children or other family members in your ceremony if you wish. This can be done a variety of ways – through a heartfelt ritual, the inclusion of a relevant reading or your loved one playing a special role in your ceremony. Several of my couples have included children in their special day. And yes, I’ve officiated weddings where the dog was the ring-bearer!

 

How do we get our marriage license?

I often joke this is the easiest part of planning a wedding. In King County the process happens entirely online and through the mail. You simply fill out an online form, pay the fee and a packet containing your license is mailed to you. Easy!

A license obtained through King County can be used anywhere in the state of Washington. And, you don't need to be a resident of the county to apply. More information can be found here

Do you have vendors you could refer us to? 

Having been part of the Seattle wedding community for over 13 years, I have a strong network of folks I know and trust. So, if you're looking for a photographer or wedding coordinator I'm happy to connect you with some pros who might be just the right fit for you. 

Do you do other types of ceremonies? 

Yes! I also write and officiate memorials and funerals along with naming ceremonies, house blessings, uncoupling rituals and more. It's a great honor when a couple reaches out after their wedding about a naming ritual for a new baby or a Celebration of Life for a parent. More about these other ceremonies can be found at https://www.aceremonywithheart.com/

 

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