I had reservations when the first couple told me they wanted a wedding that was funny. They explained that they were a fun, funny couple and they wanted their wedding to reflect that.
I had reservations. I believe that a wedding is a very significant step in a person’s life and a wedding ceremony event should reflect that. I was concerned that if a wedding was funny that (if only in appearance) the couple wasn’t taking it seriously.
But. I also believe that people should be able to be married the way “they” wanted, not the way I want…. a problem I have heard about from quite of few couples that have come to me after consulting other officiates. After pondering all this I reasoned I could still add humor to a wedding to reflect the couple’s desires, and yet have the wedding still reflect the significance of the event and couple’s serious intention to share their life with each other.
Once I got that far then came the dilemma of accomplishing that. And it wasn’t easy. There are a couple of problems.
The first problem of doing a funny wedding is, what is funny to me isn’t necessarily funny to you.
It took me some time but I was able to accumulate some humorous text, readings and “events” during the ceremony that fit. At least they were funny to me.
But that didn’t necessarily mean it would be funny to the couple or to the guests. My solution? I build the ceremony from the input I get from the couple when I go through with them what I call the Preliminary Ceremony Questionnaire, a document I have built after 20 years of marrying couples. This questionnaire makes it easy for me to help a couple plan their wedding.
Then I build a pretty ceremony that reflects the choices that we discussed in the wedding planning with the couple. After that is done, I put all the humorous text, humorous readings, and funny “events” in highlights throughout the ceremony. Then I send the wedding to the couple and I let the couple choose…what they think is funny and what isn’t and just how much of the “funny” that they want to include. I even encourage them to add things of their own that they think is funny.
One tip I will share… Let the important people know up front… like the Father of the Bride. I never want to have “that discussion” again after the ceremony because the father didn’t know up front.
The second problem in doing a funny wedding is Timing and Pacing. Not everyone can tell a joke. At least not well. I was a nationally known entertainer when I was young and a professional seminar presenter when I got older. I learned to read an audience, and how to take them where I wanted them to go. Part of that skill is learning timing and pacing…the art of the pause. You learn with practice. And I’ve had a lot of practice.
The third problem is you must have a thick skin and a lot of confidence. Because sometimes a joke just doesn’t work. It falls flat on its face. And you just have to keep going.
Now I find there is an increasing demand for humor in the initial consultation. But in the end after the couple reviews the wedding text and send me back their requested changes… most use just a little. Some none at all.
Funny works better in non-religious ceremonies… but I get more requests for humor in religious weddings. What’s up with that?