Ceremony,The Planner

Planning a Meaningful Ceremony

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Wedding Officiant, Nancy Vargas, says it’s all about your love story

As a wedding planner one of the things I don’t do is accompany couples when they meet with their officiant to plan their ceremony. I imagine the process is sentimental and spiritual and though I’m quite curious – tagging along might be awkward … at best! Still, I’m always amazed at how an officiant can get to know a couple in a relatively short period of time and create a ceremony that is meaningful and nail-on-the head reflective of their love story.

To unlock some of the mystery, I reached out to Nancy Vargas of Ceremonies by Nancy (www.ceremoniesbynancy.com), who has been officiating weddings for over 13 years in the New York tri-state area and specializes in planning bilingual ceremonies. Even more awesome – she has been married for over 20 years and is the proud mother of a beautiful 14-year-old daughter and 4-year-old Maltese. Impressive credentials indeed.

Images courtesy of ceremoniesbynancy.com

Why did you decide to become an officiant? I decided to become a Wedding Officiant because I love to hear couple’s love stories and be an instrument in creating a personalized ceremony that is heartfelt and meaningful not only to the couple but their friends and family as well. Becoming an Officiant has been rewarding in so many ways and I’m honored to be part of a memorable and special moment in a couple’s life.

What do your responsibilities include? My responsibilities include, meeting with my client to learn more about them as a couple, hearing their love story and creating a script that touches all their milestone moments in the short period of time allotted for their ceremony. I ensure that they obtain their Marriage License at the courthouse (should be done 60 days prior to their ceremony) and I ensure that their Marriage License is mailed to the City Clerk within 5 days of officiating their ceremony. I arrive 30 minutes prior to their Ceremony start time. Normally ceremonies run 20-25 minutes.

What are the most common concerns couples have about planning their ceremony? The most common concerns couples have is ensuring that I, as their Wedding Officiant, capture their love story and create a story that is meaningful and heartfelt.  I pride myself in having the skill to execute a script that is personalized to their love story and their vision.

What are some things a couple can do to make their ceremony unique and memorable? There are many elements to a ceremony and many of them are very traditional. However, every love story is unique and memorable.  No two couples will ever have the same love story. I always suggest adding a symbolic moment  after their Exchanging of Vows and Exchanging of Rings. For example, a Unity Candle or Unity Sand can be used to showcase the couple coming to their marriage as two individuals and joining their two lives to become one.  It also symbolizes the blending of the two families and creates a special moment during the ceremony.

Every couple has different ideas of what their ceremony should be and I’m honored to be an instrument to execute their vision.  If there are children involved, I suggest having a Children Ceremony which simply gives them a moment to share how special they are and many times is followed by a special gift given to the child with a blessing.

What trends are you seeing in ceremonies recently? A new trend I’ve noticed in the past year is that most couples are taking pictures before the ceremony so that they can enjoy their time with their guests after the ceremony during the cocktail hour.  I notice that since this breaks the tradition of not seeing the bride prior to the ceremony, they capture this “reveal” moment on photo and video so that they don’t forget how they felt the moment they saw each other for the first time on their wedding day.

How do you plan a bilingual ceremony? Performing a bilingual ceremony is my specialty. I often perform bilingual ceremonies in Spanish and English. This ensures couples that their parents and Spanish-speaking family members will understand all the elements of the ceremony, as well as their English speaking friends and co-workers. This allows for everyone to feel at ease and connected during the ceremony.  The idea is not to translate word for word, but rather to translate certain parts so that each guest can be a part of the ceremony.  I normally ask couples to say their vows in the language they prefer.  The Pronouncement is also done Bilingual.

Please share one of your favorite ceremony experiences and why it stands out for you. Each ceremony is special and unique in my heart.  One that stands out is a double sister wedding I performed last winter.  The sisters had always dreamed of getting married on the same day and having their dad walk them both down the aisle.  Well, their dream became a reality and I had the honor of executing a beautiful Bilingual Ceremony for both sisters simultaneously. Although this particular wedding stands out, all of the ceremonies I have performed throughout my 14 years of experience have a special place in my heart.

*All images courtesy of www.ceremoniesbynancy.com

Michelle Peralta is the co-owner of Josie Michelle Events, an event planning and design company servicing New York and New Jersey founded in 2011. She has 15 years of experience planning corporate events for New York City law firms, and 6 years experience planning and designing social events. Michelle holds a BA in English Literature from St. Johns University, and is a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. She’s been featured on Urban Latino Radio, Opcion New York, the Long Island Business News, and various event blogs.