At a gala wedding I attended at one America’s National Monuments, The Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia – where no expense was spared (the groom’s dad was extremely successful and generous), friends of the couple offered to help and wound-up officiating, photographing and DJ-ing the wedding.
On a scale of one to ten, the catered food and drinks, the décor, the cake, the flowers, the Planetarium and the Grand Hall, the amenities, the dresses and tuxedos, the rings, the parents, the attendees, all were elevens. Over the top, world class. In fact, a Ben Franklin impersonator even gossiped and schmoozed through out the night with most of the three hundred guests. There were dozens of staff serving and coordinating everything beautifully: decorating, welcoming and seating guests, serving appetizers and dinner, coat checking, and a valet parking cars.
As to the friends who worked the wedding (officiant, DJ and photographer), well, they were in way over their inexperienced heads. For starters the “DJ” friend provided the officiant-friend with a microphone, black iron mic-stand, and hundred foot cord. The black rig was center stage amidst the white-lit white stage adorned with hundreds of white roses. The black cord snakes its way across the stage in every photo taken and now a permanent scar of the ceremony forever present. The two inexperienced friends with cameras never thought to mention the distraction of the cord (if they even noticed) or mic stand.
When the ceremony started, the officiant-friend never did ask the guests to stand for the bride as she came down the aisle. Seated towards the back, I stood on my own initiative for her. Only then, did the three hundred guests finally stand to welcome the bride down the aisle. Unfortunately, the friend officiating the ceremony forgot to tell guests when to sit down; thereby leaving guests to stand the entire forty minute ceremony! Yes, even the elderly aunts and uncles (some in their nineties) and the mothers with babes in their arms.
The officiant was competent enough to monotonously read the ceremony she and the couple had written, but as to the logistics for conducting an actual wedding ceremony, both were absolutely clueless. Neither her voice nor the staging was engaging, inspirational or conducive for good photographs. The bride and groom stood in the same spot for the entire ceremony, their backs to the guests, divided by the black microphone chord as if they were intentionally being “divided.”
During the ceremony, guests never glimpsed the blissful faces of the bride and groom, except for a moment in profile when they kissed in the middle of the ceremony without any dramatic build up. The touching love letters that the bride and groom wrote for each other were read without the benefit of the microphone that their celebrant cradled in her arms. Aside from the procession and recession, the attendants stood stiffly in place like backups of a chorus line with no part in the actual ceremony.
My suggestion: at your wedding, have friends be guests, not workers. Inexperienced and friendly is no replacement for experienced and professional. Every bride deserves a wedding ritual, fit for a queen, not a hodgepodge of elements cobbled together by friends.