Choosing an Officiant That is Right For You

It is very important to find your officiant early, they are an invaluable resource in planning your ceremony and in answering any questions you might have. In choosing this person, you will want to be sure that he or she is not only willing but able to reflect accurately what you want your ceremony to convey. You will want to find someone who can reflect the quality of your love and speak meaningfully to you and your partner. Think about the following questions:

1. Does the officiant reflect or embody the spirit you want to create at your wedding?

2. Do you feel comfortable with him or her? Will you be able to express your preferences about content; speak up about matters of concern in the preparation of the ceremony; voice objections you might have or ask for silly, even seemingly trivial things to be included in the ceremony?

3. Will the officiant show you a finished ceremony in a format that is best for you (via email or fax)?  And will the officiant change the ceremony upon your request?

4. Do you like the sound of his or her voice?

5. Do you have a connection with the officiant that allows you to trust that what he or she will say will be appropriate for the two of you? A person that has a sense of you and understands the uniqueness of your relationship?

6. Above all, will you value what this person has to say? Will he or she have delightful, meaningful, moving reflections that will elevate the ceremony from ordinary, generic, and formal to personal, beautiful and unforgettable?

7. Last but not least, relax in choosing an officiant. When you are all together, having a consultation, discussing how you celebrate your love and the type of ceremony that you have envisioned, you will know if that minister/officiant is the right one for the two of you. Something will click and there will be a connection.

So, how does finding and hiring the right officiant with Hudson Valley Ceremonies work? Here’s how:

  • First we have you set up a phone, Facetime or skype consultation with the officiant of your choice or one that has been chosen for you. You can see our officiants Bio’s here.
  • The officiant will ask you many questions about you and your fiance and what you most want for your ceremony.
  • Please ask them as many questions as you want, they are very happy to answer and assist.
  • If you wish to speak to another officiant we can set that up also.Finally you will choose the officiant that you have the best connection with and then choose a package.

Please check out our reviews, Hudson Valley Ceremonies has the best officiants in the valley!

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Ceremony Decor

Do-it-yourself weddings do not have to stop at favors, bouquets and gifts. If you are planning a wedding in a non-traditional setting, think about the ceremony decor, including the ceremony backdrop or chuppah. It can create the stage and photo backdrop for the wedding, as well as making the space for the ceremony and reinforcing the theme.

The first thing someone may think of is a twig and flower chuppah or some other floral arrangement.

Glynwood Wedding Chuppah

Also consider using paper or silk flowers for the backdrop. Giant paper flowers would add whimsy and fun to a wedding.

Floral Backdrop

There are many other materials to use for the ceremony backdrop, besides flowers, though.

Reclaimed building materials, such as windows or doors

Window Backdrop

Picture frames

Picture Frame Backdrop

Curtains

Curtain Backdrop

Crepe paper or streamers

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Paper Poms

Paper Pom Backdrop

Handwritten words displayed on butcher paper

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Books

Book backdrop

Whatever you choose for your wedding ceremony decor, enjoy yourself. Blend it into the ceremony and the theme. Staying in a budget is easy for someone with creativity and cleverness. Think of what will go best in the wedding setting and be easy for set up and take down.

Wedding Vendor Referrals

I doesn’t matter if you have your Officiant or Coordinator booked with Hudson Valley Ceremonies we would love to provide you with referrals for any vendors you might still need for your big day. Here is just a sampling of vendor assistance we can provide:

Bakers
Bands & Musicians
Butterfly Release
Calligraphy
Caterers
Cigar Lounge
Dance Lessons
DJ’s
Entertainment
Florists
Flower Preservation
Hair & Make-Up
Ketubah
Lighting
Photobooth
Photographers
Rentals
Transportation
Venues
Videographers
Wine & Liquor

Wedding Planning on a Tight Budget

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style to save money when planning your wedding day!

Planning your wedding can be really exciting at first – but once you start to tally up all your wants and needs for the the big day, it’s normal to start stressing about money. Most likely you don’t have an endless amount of cash to spend on your wedding, so you’ll need to create a budget. While it might seem tough to stick to your budget and still get what you want, there are a few tricks for planning the perfect wedding without going overboard on expenditures.

Avoid “Wedding” Items

Whether it’s napkins, cups, plates or guest favors, higher prices often accompany merchandise earmarked for weddings. Pay close attention when you’re shopping for anything wedding-related, and compare the prices of similar products. You might get sucked into thinking that you need monogrammed wedding napkins or cups customized to your wedding palette, but you can find similar items for much cheaper if you expand your search beyond party stores and wedding supply sites. Just because you are using an item in a wedding, doesn’t mean you can only buy it at a wedding supply store.

Wedding Store

Explore Catering Options

If your wedding will be held at a hotel, conference center or banquet hall, explore creative options for providing food and drink. Purchasing a select number of items at a supermarket or savings club will give you the option to use gift certificates, gift cards and coupons to defray costs. The cost of alcohol can be reduced if you streamline the selection instead of providing a full bar. You’ll save a ton by having a buffet for a big group instead of paying per-person for individual meals. If your reception after the ceremony will be on the short side, you can always just serve desserts instead of a full meal. The idea that you have to have a sit-down dinner after your ceremony is a popular tradition—not a rule.

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Eliminate a “Plus One”

Your wedding day is a time to celebrate with all your friends and family, but what about people you’ve never met before? A quick way to trim costs on your reception expenses is to eliminate the option of a “plus one” for guests who will bring someone you’ve never met. In addition to creating a guest list to keep track of your actual invited guests, consider filling out wedding budget (you can find plenty of printable budgets online) to effectively keep track of all your purchases and expenses. Including RSVP send-back card with your invitations can give you a good idea of how many people will attend will so you can better estimate how much you’ll be spending on food, space, etc.

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Consider a Pre-Owned Dress

Think about putting superstition aside and consider buying a used wedding dress. Sites like eBay and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com offer a wide variety of styles, sizes and price points. Instead of paying thousands for a brand new dress, you can pay just a few hundred, including the cost of having the dress steamed or cleaned. Plenty of brides have kept their dresses in mint condition, and as newlyweds they are willing sell to another bride in order to recoup some of their wedding costs. If you can find someone in your area selling a used dress, you won’t have to pay for shipping. Offering to pay cash can net you an even deeper discount.

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Choose a Venue Carefully

When choosing a venue, look for a space that gives you the option to choose your own vendors. Some venues require brides to purchase a catering or event-planning package, which bumps up the price. Look for affordable options like state or city parks, a friend’s home, a church or synagogue, or buildings in your community. Having an outdoor wedding can save tons on decorations, because the picturesque scenery will provide a naturally beautiful backdrop. This is where RSVPs will come in handy: If you know how many people will be coming, you can choose a venue that will fit the group instead of paying extra for a huge space that you don’t actually need.

backyard-wedding-reception

Planning a wedding on a strict budget takes time and effort. But getting creative with your choices – for instance, avoiding “wedding-only” stores, out-smarting the wedding dress industry, or considering less traditional venues – can free up extra money for the areas of your wedding you care about most. Perhaps having a highly-talented professional photographer is important to you, or maybe you want to save money for an epic honeymoon. Whatever you want to spend your money on, sticking to a budget can help you allocate enough funds to the parts of your wedding that truly matter to you.

Writing Your Wedding Vows

The vows are the most intimate part of the ceremony, and what is more intimate than your own thoughts and words? Here are some tips on writing your own vows.

Set the tone in advance
Talk to your fiance about whether you want serious vows or humorous. Do you want something poetic and romantic? Or nostalgic and touching? Make sure you are on the same page so the vows will complement each other. You don’t want the groom’s to be humorous, while the bride’s is poetic! You also need to decide if you will write the vows together or keep them a surprise for each other. ( I vote for surprise!! The emotions from saying your vows the first time is a truly beautiful moment!!)

Dedicate time for this
It doesn’t have to be in one sitting, in fact it will be better if it is not in one sitting. Have a sheet of paper in your wedding planning book that every time you open the book for something wedding (maybe flowers, or dress) take a moment to write a thought about you fiancé. Better yet, you can devote a “page” on the notepad on your phone and when something hits you (he surprised you by….) write that down. It could be the way that she cries at sappy old movies, or the face that he makes when he is concentrating. Regardless of what it is that you love, you need to write it down. This way you will have several thoughts spread out over time to help you write the vows. By taking plenty of time to plan your vows and consider your relationship, your vows will most certainly be special.

Talk to family and friends
Often, friends and family members will see things about your relationship that you do not notice yourself. Ask your friends and family members’ opinions about what they think is special about your relationship, and incorporate that into your wedding vows. This will not only make your vows more personal, but it will make your loved ones feel special that you included their opinions in your wedding.

Have a deadline
Not the day of the wedding!!! Although I have had several grooms show up on the day of the wedding with their vows written on hotel stationery!!! I have found most couples are worried about length. The bride has 50 lines, and the groom 20. This makes the groom feel like he should have said more, and the audience wondering when the bride’s will be over… Therefore, I tell the couple to have the vows to me 2 weeks prior to the wedding. This way, I can go over it, make any suggestions (if repeating the same thing over and over) and then inform both of the length issue if one exists. So have a third party help out. Your wedding officiant or minister should be the first choice, otherwise have a friend you both trust that will keep the vows secret!

Include a personal touch
Everyone has a place, movie, or other favorite thing that they love. Include a line of your partner’s favorite movie, or make a reference to their favorite place or sports team in your wedding vows. Depending on how you do this, it could not only make the vows more special, but it could deliver a laugh to lighten the mood as well.

Vow delivery
Do you want to do the repeat after me style, or read from an index card? I think the personal vows are more personal coming directly from the person than being repeated. Just make sure you separate out your lines so you can say a line, and look at your fiancé. Nothing like READING your vows to lower the significance of the moment.

Audience and timing
There will indeed be people watching you say these vows, so try not to get too personal! Also, timing is important. One to two minutes is a good range; I know you could go on and on about your love, but for the ceremonial vows, keep it short and sweet.

Practice out loud
Just because something looks good on paper does not mean it sounds good when spoken. Practicing out loud will allow you to change any sentence structures that sound awkward, as well as pointing out sentences that might be too long… after all, you don’t want to run out of breath when exchanging vows! Have your wedding officiant or minister review your vows, as they know timing best. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, at least read them out loud to your maid of honor or best man.

If absolutely stuck, you should be able to meet with your wedding officiant or minister and have them help you write the vows by asking questions, and re-wording the answers for beautiful vows!

Meet Our Officiant Kevin Cook

For more than 30 years Kevin Cook has balanced two careers:  fundraising professional for several Westchester County not-for-profits and Lutheran worship leader and teacher.  He recently received ordination in order to serve couples seeking to create a personalized wedding ceremony that thoughtfully incorporates their spiritual beliefs.  He brings a warm sense of humor and calm to the frantic pace of the wedding day, helping couples concentrate on the ceremony and vows, the truly important portion of the big day.

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See what past clients are saying about Kevin:
From day one, Kevin Cook went above and beyond for us. He was supportive and counseled regarding both the flow of the ceremony and helped define what was important to my husband and to me, both separately and as a unit. While we are spiritual, we don’t identify with a specific religion. Kevin was able to inject what God meant to us in a lovely way that we and our guests enjoyed and understood, despite their own religions that varied from Jewish to Catholic to Muslim. We love and respect Kevin and feel that he is the ultimate officiant. We hope that you are blessed to have him marry you too!

Meet Our Officiant Lawrence McCauley

Lawrence is an ordained that respects all faiths. He has been officiating weddings, handfastings, and ceremonies of love for more than ten years. At these most important life events, he encourages each and every couple to add their personal touch to the ceremony.

Lawrence also performs clearing and blessing rituals for homes and businesses. This type of service may be utilized to rid a spaced of negative energy or to attract positive energy to the area.

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Meet Our Officiant Mike Lopez

The Rev. Mike Lopez is an Interfaith and Independent Catholic Minister with over fifteen years of active ministry experience. During your Pre-Wedding Consultation, Brother Mike will take the time to get to know you and will help you to create the perfect ceremony for your special day.

Brother Mike specializes in Ceremonial Liturgy and will insure that every aspect of your wedding ceremony from the Entrance to the “I Do”, are just perfect. Whether you wish to have a traditional ceremony or want to keep it short and sweet; Brother Mike is a great choice.

Brother Mike is fully Bi-Lingual and can perform your ceremony in English or Spanish or Both!

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See what past clients are saying about Mike:

Brother Mike, all we can say is Wow! You made our ceremony even more special than we could have ever imagined. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! PS – We owe you dinner!!
Luis and Michelle

Thank You Brother Mike for taking the time to meet with us and calm us down before the big day, from the rehearsal dinner to the final blessing, you made us feel extra special! Peace and Blessings and Keep up the Good Work!
Alex and Andrea

OMG Brother Mike, you saved our day! Thanks for stepping up at the last minute when the Minister we hired cancelled on us at the last minute. You where a blessing and so funny! Like you said, “God Knows What He Does!” Thanks again! PS – My Grandma wants to know where your Church is at, she thinks your great!”
Brittney and Jeff

The first communication I had with the company is the personnel in their office. Their associates are very responsive, caring, and friendly. They sent friendly reminders of upcoming bills, and sent holiday and congratulatory emails. After working with their office, I communicated very frequently with my wedding officiant, Brother Mike Lopez. He was by far the most qualified person to officiate our wedding. He was very flexible and always arrived half hour before our meeting times so we would never have to wait on him. He sent us routine text messages in the weeks before the wedding just to check up on us and reassure us that everything would turn out perfect. We custom built our ceremony with Mike so that it was everything that we could every dream of. Whenever I was feeling nervous about our big day, I could just shoot Mike a text and he would put those feelings at east. At the reception, he fit right in with my family, and everyone loved him.
I definitely would recommend Hudson Valley Ceremonies to any other bride to be, and especially Brother Mike Lopez.
Vianca and Jess Vargas

Bro. Mike Lopez was incredible at our wedding on Saturday. Everything was perfect and my brothers couldn’t stop raving. Thank you so much!
Jenn

Brother Mike was absolutely amazing! He gave us the most perfect ceremony , which was completely tailored to our requests. We still can’t get over how perfect it was. We have had so many compliments from our guest about his performance & personality.
Amanda

My entire experience in working Hudson Valley Ceremonies was extraordinary. Due to a few complications with our previous chaplain, I turned to a friend’s advice who had suggested to contact Barbara, an excellent officiant who serves the mid-Hudson valley area. Because I was getting married on Long Island, she referred me to local Chaplin/ wedding officiant , Bro. Micheal Lopez. He was amazing. In a very short amount of time, Bro. Micheal costume tailored a beautiful , and memorable wedding service. He was kind, took great pride in making every detail perfect for our wedding day, and made time to contact us every step of the way. Working with the staff, and Bro. Micheal made planning this important ceremony easy and fun.
Brittany

I had the pleasure of working with Rev. Mike Lopez. He was very professional, was down to earth, keeping just the right amount of light-heartedness, while still making sure everyone knew how serious a wedding is. He was extremely flexible with us and helped us with our bilingual service. For the rehearsal, he waited patiently for 30 minutes as most of my wedding party was stuck in unusual traffic on their way to the venue. Throughout the rehearsal and ceremony, he kept us smiling, but on point. He was truly a pleasure to work with and I would certainly recommend him!!
Jackie