May 21, 2023 will mark the five-year anniversary of my ordination as an officiant.
I remember my first ceremony. I put a shout-out on Facebook announcing my services and a couple quickly contacted me and scheduled their nuptials. Then, the first week of June 2018, I nervously married them. I had fashioned a simple wedding arch and put it in the corner of the biggest room of my office. I could barely hold back the tears as they exchanged their rings and vows. The second ceremony quickly followed, then the third, and… Mid-Ohio Valley Wedding Officiants was born. I hit the ground running and had no idea I’d be where I am today.
Each year, I try to do something better than the year before, and this year will be no different. I’m making changes that will not only streamline my business model but will also benefit more couples. As with any streamlined process, it takes a little time to get there. I’m taking baby steps at the moment, but anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still for long.
This “thing I do” began as a side gig to supplement my photography business. I was renting a four-room office suite at the time — my dream studio — and I thought I’d get ordained and marry a couple here and there to supplement my income. Boy, was my thinking small! To quote the movie FIELD OF DREAMS, “If you build it, they will come.” I “built” it, and to my surprise, my chapel kept me much busier than my photography business. The next course of action was now clear: I combined both businesses and took pictures of the couples I married.
I referred to it as “The Little Chapel That Could.” Since then, I’ve met, married, and photographed hundreds of newlyweds.
I’ve officiated ceremonies for the most amazing people. The military couple in the featured picture flew from China to get married in front of family and friends in my “upgraded” chapel room that seated only 17 guests. I would later move back to the bigger room but instead of putting an arch in the corner, the entire studio became my chapel. Now, I could invite 35 guests. I also began officiating on location at venues and homes in WV and OH.
I’ve married people who have traveled from Turkey and Sweden and other places around the world. I’ve met couples who said “I do” within months of knowing each other, and I’ve officiated many ceremonies for couples who have been together 20+ years. I married a couple in a hospital room so that Mom could see her son get married before she passed away; I married one couple in a make-shift dungeon where the couple and guests wore black; and I’ve married couples in beautiful barn venues, to name a few.
If I’ve learned anything from being a wedding officiant, it’s this golden nugget:
There’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” ceremony.
I later downsized the chapel in August 2020 and moved to a different building on the same street. I continued to officiate ceremonies in my “much-smaller” chapel and traveled to other venues, and I loved every moment of it. But… I knew I could do better both personally and professionally. I also had other goals that were nagging at me, so I opted to close the chapel at the end of July 2022 to pursue those goals.
Let me make one thing clear: I’m not leaving. Instead, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the direction I want to take my business and personal life. I now spend more time with my family when I’m not working; that’s why weekend emails often get answered on Monday. I had to find a way to maintain the trajectory of this business I love while also spending more time with those I love. I’ve finally figured it out.
Big changes are coming. In the meanwhile, I’m still offering “meet and marry” ceremonies, which include “Sign-and-Go Married-in-a-Minute” ceremonies, “Short, Sweet, and Hitched” elopements, and “Curbside (Drive-Thru) Ceremonies.” I’m offering all these services in the Mid-Ohio Valley on location in WV and at my Ohio office.
I’m also booking venue weddings throughout 2024. These include traditional ceremonies as well as the Love Story Signature Celebration. I’m still offering pre-marital/post-marital coaching. Additionally, I’ll add more services that will help not only my couples but couples who work with other officiants.
I’ll announce these changes by the end of March, hopefully sooner. I may roll them out one at a time to make the transition smoother because I’m a one-woman show, and I’m busy! The good news is that I’m offering the same services as always and look forward to serving the Mid-Ohio Valley (and beyond) for many years.
These changes have been a long time in the works. I’ve learned from my successes and my many mistakes. I’m so excited to finally bring my ideas to fruition. Even though I haven’t posted a lot of pictures on Facebook recently of couples I’ve married, rest assured that I’m still here and joining couples in marriage. Soon, I’ll make some really cool announcements and take out March with a roar (or a cheer or a “Yay, me)! I can hardly wait.
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