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  • Once Upon A Vow

How much time REALLY goes into your 30-minute Ceremony?

As wedding officiants and love storytellers, we love what we do ‘cause DUH, it’s the best job everrrr! But sometimes couples who inquire say something along the lines of “we just want a short ceremony. Only 30 minutes.”

Words, like ‘just’ and ‘only’ in this context sends us a message that you might think we only work for half an hour and then peace out. When in reality, we spend approximately 17 - 30 hours working on each couple’s ceremony.

So we’re here to give you a breakdown of what it takes to personalize your wedding ceremony and set the tone for your day. To keep this post at its simplest, we won’t include any time estimates spent on email/text exchanges, mail deliveries, or vow-writing assistance.

Brooklyn wedding officiant celebrating love and marriage with heartfelt personalized ceremonies

Photo by Kate Alison Photography

Before you ever officially book us as your wedding officiants, we spend approximately 3 to 5 hours with couples who schedule a one-hour consultation. This is why we strongly recommend chatting over the phone first because time is valuable. Below is our getting-to-know-you snapshot.

15-minute Phone Call: ~0.5 hours We prepare a document to make sure we have all your wedding day details correct and once we jump on that phone call, we take notes of everything you mention to us: your biggest concerns, your challenges, your hopes, the beginnings of your story, etc. Most of the time, our calls last longer than 15-minutes because we just can’t get enough of listening to you and answering your questions.

Pre-Consultation: ~0.5 hours We read, highlight, and underline your responses to the questionnaire we sent your way, and create questions to dive even deeper into your journey. We want to know as much about you as possible so we can get a real sense of your values and personalities.

Meeting: ~1 - 1.5 hours This is the fun part, because this is where we get to know each other and get a better idea of what you want and don’t want included in your ceremony. This is also where we talk about your love story and the character of your relationship. Many couples have compared this consultation to a great therapy session. HA! Likely because we get to talk about the real stuff that has made you who you are today, as individuals and as a couple. It’s also a great reminder of why you’re choosing each other for the long haul!

Post-Meeting: ~1 hour Once we hug goodbye, we’ll take a few post-meeting notes in order to digest everything you mentioned to us. We’ll write down themes and values we noticed in your relationship, words or phrases that came up over and over again, and creative ideas you sparked in us! We’ll also draft your customized proposal and contract to make sure we get your wedding date on our calendars.

Meeting Travel: ~ 2 hours Because we live in South Brooklyn, it typically takes us about an hour to commute to and from our coffee shop date. Getting to see how you interact matters to us, so in person meetings are our jam. But if you’re an international couple, video chats are our close second fave ‘cause we simply travel from our couch to our desk.

modern NYC wedding officiant writing a meaningful personalized ceremony

Photo by Amour and Lace Photography

Once you book us as your wedding officiants, we spend approximately 11 to 20 hours drafting and fine-tuning your personalized ceremony. See below how we spend that time.

Donation and Tracking: ~0.5 hour As soon as you book with us and tell us which organization you’d like to support with your ceremony, we send a donation right away in your honor. We also make sure to track your chosen organization so we can look back on which causes you’ve helped support throughout the year.

Inspiration Research: ~1 - 2 hours In order to get re-inspired by you and your story, we will re-read your questionnaire responses and the notes we took during our consultation. We’ll also research some of your aforementioned interests. So, for instance, if you told us about a certain song that speaks to you, we’ll look up the lyrics and listen to it over and over again. If there’s a favorite show or movie that you both love and we’re not familiar with, we’ll watch a few episodes, binge it completely, or find clips on YouTube. If there’s an artist, novelist, or quote that resonates with you, we’ll research the hell out of it and use that inspiration to begin writing your ceremony.

Ceremony Writing: ~8 - 16 hours This is the ’tofu and potatoes’* of our process so it understandably takes the most time. We typically write your ceremony in two to four days. We find that this way, we can always come back to your ceremony with fresh eyes and invigorated energy to share your love story in a way that authentically honors you.

You’ll notice that there’s a wide range here that speaks to the difference in writing your elopement ceremony versus writing your full-scale wedding ceremony. If you’re having a bilingual ceremony, or if there’s a few moving parts, traditions, creative ways to include your community then the more time we’ll take writing.

Ceremony Practice: ~1 hour Practice is key for us and our confidence in delivering a fun and meaningful ceremony. We will go through your ceremony out loud, with our dog as our witness and record ourselves practicing it until we’re counting down the days to get you two married.

On your wedding day, we spend approximately 3 - 5 hours with you and your loved ones. See below for our wedding day breakdown.

Wedding Travel: ~2 hours We’re drivers and subway commuters so we’ll usually take the easiest travel route to your wedding venue but on average it takes us about an hour to get anywhere. We especially like to buffer our time, in case if there’s traffic or if we need to find street parking.

Early Arrival: ~1 hour We arrive at least one hour prior to the ceremony start time so that we can do sound check (for full-scale weddings), pre-fill out your marriage license, get to know your loved ones, and ease into the excitement of the fact that YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED! That’s a big deal for us.

Ceremony: ~0.5 hour This is the half hour that many mention in those inquiries as an only a half hour ceremony. While yes, our ceremonies are typically 20 or 30 minutes long. It’s in THIS half hour, THIS time, where we’re pouring all your values, your quirks, your loving sentiments for each other into a seamless love-filled moment. A shared moment between you and your loved ones to celebrate how far you’ve come and how far you’ll go together.

This half hour IS the wedding! Everything that comes afterwards is the celebration of your love during the ceremony. But it’s not technically a wedding without a ceremony. We are all about creating fun and meaningful ceremonies, but don't get it twisted. We don’t play! We take the role as your love storyteller very seriously.

Legalities: ~0.5 to 1 hour Most couples like to sign the marriage license after the ceremony so even though we’ve already pre-filled out the legal bits, we’ll wait for a few things to take place before we make it official. For instance, if you’re doing a receiving line, we’ll wait to sign the official paperwork afterwards. If your photographer wants to capture the beautiful lighting, we’ll follow them around, take photos too, and wait for an opportunity for you and your witness(es) to sign. Once we leave, we mail your marriage license on your behalf, scan, and email it to you along with any photos and videos we’ve taken on the day.

We strongly believe in taking time with our couples so we’re not rushing from one ceremony to the next. It’s not our style. Plus, that would stress us out and who wants a stressed out officiant marrying them, huh?

Destination Wedding in Brooklyn, NY with fun and vibrant destination wedding officiant

Photo by JC Lemon Photography

All in all, your ceremony is NOT just 20 or 30 minutes for us. It’s 17 - 30 hours of us pouring our love and creativity into you and your day. Plus, we'll be your lifetime cheerleaders and follow your Instagram journey to becoming parents and homeowners and worldwide adventurers. That’s like priceless, right? We’ll let you judge the value of that, of course.

* 'Tofu and potatoes' is a meat and potatoes reference, but since half of the sister duo is vegan, we’re trying to be thoughtful of those dietary differences. LOL

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