Planning your wedding? Celebrity wedding officiant JP Reynolds shares his insights.

Planning your wedding? Celebrity wedding officiant JP Reynolds shares his insights.
“A wedding,” says officiant JP Reynolds, “is a gift that a couple gives to family and friends. For that day, we can all remember what life is about: love, loyalty, family and friends. When a wedding is done well, people leave feeling refreshed and renewed.” JP knows plenty about weddings, having first been ordained as a Catholic priest and then, after leaving the priesthood, conducting ceremonies as an officiant. He has celebrated more than 1,000 weddings, typically non-denominational and often interfaith and/or cross cultural. He is also the author of How To Keep The 'I' In 'I Do.'

Wedding Officiant JP Reynolds on Planning Your Wedding Ceremony

Jordan Obinger Photography

More about JP Reynolds:

Although many of the couples that he marries are from California, he has also married those from England, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, China, Japan, Taiwan and Canada. He also:
  • Officiated the 2005 wedding of Rob and Amber from Survivor and The Amazing Race, a wedding that was a “two-hour Sweeps Week special on CBS-TV.”
  • Has performed wedding ceremonies broadcast on Lifetime, The Style Network, E! Entertainment and The WE, where he appeared on Bridezillas.
  • Has collaborated with top event planners, including Oprah Winfrey’s
  • Has been profiled in People, The New York Times, Grace Ormonde Weddings, Inside Weddings, Wedding Channels, and The Knot.
  • Blogs with The Huffington Post
Today, he is sharing tips with the Wedding Shoppe about:
  • How you, as a bride, can enjoy the wedding planning process more and stress out about it less
  • How friends and family members can support a bride and groom
  • How a couple can personalize their wedding

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony

Studio Laguna Photography

Time to plan your wedding ceremony.

“At the heart of every wedding,” JP says, “is the ceremony where there is an exchange of vows and rings. Everything before that is a prelude. Everything afterwards is icing on the cake. While there is no way that you can plan for the emotional rollercoaster of wedding planning, it’s vital to remember what’s important.” He points out that a wedding is unlike any other life experience. “As soon as you announce that you’re getting married,” he says, “you may notice a strange hormonal imbalance in your friends and family as they may start to say weird outlandish things to you. For example, someone whom you expected to be very supportive of you might make demands, while someone you don’t know as well might be very generous and giving. The reality is that weddings press a lot of hidden buttons in everyone involved and how you – the bride and groom – handle stress during the wedding planning is a good indicator of how you’ll handle it after the wedding.” JP offers these pieces of advice for the bride and groom:
  • Sit down together, as a couple, and understand what your vision for your wedding is and what you want the celebration to be.
  • Focus on making magic, not achieving perfection; remember that a perfect day is never attainable.
  • Focus on five things you’ll want people to remember about your wedding, say, five years later; let that be your guide. For example, people will remember a loving celebration but won’t remember whether your ribbons did or didn’t match your overall color scheme.
  • Navigating family politics is always tricky, but remember that this is, ultimately, your wedding – and then be willing to compromise on almost any aspect of the wedding except the ceremony because that’s where you need the most authenticity.
“The first question that I ask a couple,” JP says, “is what they know they want and what they know they don’t want in a ceremony. Often, people haven’t yet taken the time to talk about it and it’s important that you do.” He adds that, because he performs ceremonies in southern California, he probably sees more variety in requests, ranging from having a belly dancer to a pot-bellied pig involved. Another wedding performed by JP was the first live-streamed wedding on Facebook; yet another, an elopement at Lifeguard Station #8 in Santa Monica while a commercial was being filmed nearby. But, what matters most, he says, is that each couple “focuses on creating a wedding ceremony that is personal and not cookie cutter, one that honors and reflects you as a couple.”

How to Plan Your Wedding Ceremony

Erin Johnson Photography

Offering love, support, and good cheer.

When a friend or family member announces an engagement, the best way to support him or her, JP says, is to share in their happiness and to tell them something like this: “I want you to know that I’m here for you throughout the planning. So, whatever you need, whenever you need it, you can count on me.”
  • If they do call: “Actually rise to the occasion.”
  • If they don’t call: “Don’t take offense. Some people have a hard time asking for help.”
“A bride,” he adds, “can get so caught up in wedding planning that she loses sight of who she is and what the process is all about. If that happens, as a friend you can simply say, ‘I’m taking you out to lunch – or to a spa. You need a break.’” Other ways to support the couple:
  • Remember that this wedding is not about you, it’s about the couple.
  • Do not put unfair demands on a couple or make ultimatums.
  • If you’re a parent of the bride or groom and are unhappy about something being planned for the ceremony, express your thoughts and feelings in a way that’s not accusatory.
And, one more thing, and this is for everyone who attends the ceremony: as the bride is coming down the aisle, look at her. “In southern California,” JP says, “in outdoor ceremonies and sometimes indoor ones, as the bride walks down the aisle, 50 to 60% of the guests are busy recording the ceremony on a smart phone or table, seeing the bride only through the filter of a screen.” Besides being respectful of the bride, putting your devices away during the ceremony is also considerate of professional photographers hired by the couple. “As the photographer is trying to capture the moment, on either side of the aisle are often people waving their cell phones and tablets in the air, ruining the work of the photographer.” Couples sometimes request that people not take photos during the ceremony and, if they do, to not upload them to social media sites. “Couples can spend a significant portion of their budget on photos and video, so there is no need for others to take photos. So, as a piece of contemporary wedding etiquette, I urge you to actually watch the bride as the ceremony is happening.”

Do it your way: a personalized wedding ceremony.

JP recommends that you find a wedding officiant with whom you can establish a good relationship. “You want someone who takes his or her time in getting insight into you as a couple and who is ready to help you create a ceremony that reflects you.” For more tips about personalized wedding ceremonies, Wedding Shoppe has come up with this list of ideas: Before the wedding . . . During the ceremony . . .
  • Incorporate elements of your ethnic heritage and culture
  • Give bridesmaids silk fans with flowers or, if permitted, candles for nighttime ceremonies
At the reception . . .
  • At each table, leave something unique related to the year of your births – or from the year you met
  • Create favors that reflect your hobbies or professions
Throughout the process . . .
  • Make a time capsule that you can open on your 10th anniversary

What questions do you have as you’re planning your wedding? What elements of personalization are you using as you plan your wedding ceremony? Please leave us a comment below.

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May 16, 2019 07:45

Here’s an interesting take on personalizing your wedding that contains an interview with a celebrity officiant:

May 16, 2019 07:45

Get a hit of loveliness: that feeling a great wedding officiant provides: JP Reynolds shares his insights.

May 16, 2019 07:45

My Wedding Chat: Planning your wedding? Celebrity wedding officiant JP Reynolds shares his insights.

May 16, 2019 07:45

New Blog Post: Planning your wedding? Celebrity wedding officiant JP Reynolds shares his insights.

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