1. Introduction: What's your story?
Pastor Jane here! I just love people! I'm a pastor in the Chicago area and absolutely love helping people live into the best life possible. Much of my seminary work focused on pastoral care and psychology, and I began officiating weddings more than a decade ago.
The reason I pour hours of time, attention, listening, love, and hope into couples? Because I genuinely want to get to know them better, and I truly want good for them. Working with couples is 100% joy.
A little backstory: I realized months or years after my own wedding that I was woefully unprepared for the actual ceremony--the stress, the worries, the planning, the crush of details at the end. (Truth: we got married at midterms in seminary, and my MOTHER planned so much of the wedding. God bless her. I had no idea how much work she had to do. I was so naive!) Now, as a pastor, part of my role is to help mitigate that anxiety by getting to know the couple, carefully listening to their hopes and dreams, and helping create a wonderful ceremony that is perfect for them. A personal relationship helps everyone--the couple, the attendants, the family members--relax and be as present as possible for the wedding itself.
Marriage is such a wondrous invention! I'd love to be part of your journey toward I DO!
2. What's your experience as a wedding officiant? How many weddings have your officiated?
Speaking in front of an audience? I have literally platformed on thousands of stages around the world as a keynote speaker, and am entirely comfortable with a microphone.
What that means for the couple and their treasured guests: I roll with any problems and curve balls (Mic quit? No problem. Flower girl bawls? Ring bearer disappears? Dog runs away? (It happens :) No problem. Electricity fails? No problem. We can do this with joy!), and can easily diffuse tense situation. I have administered first aid, comforted sobbing brides, wiped tears, rescued children, held the dog, found a lighter for the unity candle...you name it.
How many actual weddings? Hundreds over the past ten or twelve years. But I don't see these as a trophy, or ticker tape of accomplishment. I see this as the greatest gift of literally thousands of people I've gotten to meet, fall in love with, and invite deeper into relationships with the new family and friends. It's a miracle, really.
3. How far in advance do couples need to secure your services?
Scheduling tends to be a little unpredictable as we emerge from the pandemic. The sooner the better for scheduling, but if you needed an officiant on, say, Monday and I am free, I will be there for you with happiness.
Some couples book 15 months to 2 years ahead! I love that people plan that far out, but I sure don't expect it. If you are looking at major holiday weekends, you might want to start the process soon. As soon as you start thinking about dates, though, talk to an officiant. Most venues and vendors can pull off a decent event, but a really good officiant will help create the most meaningful part of your wedding: the ceremony itself.
4. How would you describe your officiant style?
Friendly, welcoming, happy, deep, comfortable, kind, listening, gentle, relaxed. Whether you want a spiritual ceremony, a sweet simple happy time, a mixed faith service, or a religious wedding, my desire is to create YOUR ceremony--the one YOU want. So I don't force any agenda on you. Also, I am professional: though I am humorous, this is not a showcase of my funniness or talent. This is for YOU. Family members frequently wonder how long I've been friends with the couple, because we have developed such a good relationship and taken time to know each other well.
5. What are your fees for officiating a wedding?
My fees are flexible. I know people say that, but the truth is, I understand budgets and if I can help, I will. Fees depends on the timing of your ceremony (Weekdays! Mornings! these are far lower) and whether you desire a planning meeting and/or a rehearsal. The premium package of planning, rehearsal, and ceremony on weekends tends to be $750, unless travel of more than 75 min. is involved. Midrange packages include any two services and are usually $650-700. A ceremony on Friday or Saturday nights is usually $600.
All that said, minimonies and off-time ceremonies can be as low as $300.
Again, do not let numbers stop you from asking how we could work together! I am happy to meet you and see how it might fit!
6. What do you wear when you officiate a wedding?
Depending on the setting, a black tuxedo-style suit (jacket and skirt) or in a slightly more casual setting a sharp black jacket and slacks.
7. How many pre-wedding sessions will the couple need to have with you?
If a couple desires a personal planning and get-acquainted meeting (either a mid-range or a premium package), then one meeting of about 75 minutes will work. I also include unlimited email consultation with either of those options. However, if a couple would like more intensive couple's work, I do offer that at $100 a session.
Some couples wonder why they would need the planning and get-acquainted session. For a very slight difference in price, it allows time for you to share your stories and learn more about each other. It's also super helpful in relationship building. For your relationship with each other, and our relationship with each other.
Also, the personal planning meeting is a relief, honestly, for couples, as we work through all the possibilities of a ceremony style and elements, and I get to listen in to your dreams for the time. With so many options, and for a mostly unfamiliar experience, some friendly guidance and experience is a gift.
8. Will you be able to create a personalized ceremony?
Absolutely and always. While most ceremonies have typical elements within the structure, we work together to create one that reflects YOU. Also, I create a personalized message for every couple, after spending time with them, hearing their adventures, stories, and love for each other.
9. Are you available to travel if needed?
Yes, and I love unique settings and venues! I am close to major highways and also minutes from Chicago's O'Hare airport. I also have an active passport and am fully vaccinated. :) The sky's the limit!
10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?
After the couple and I sign a contract together, a deposit of $200 secures the date. That is refundable up to one month.