Name: Kevin Holland
Business Name: Personal Weddings of North Carolina
Industry Category: Wedding Minister and Officiant
What common mistakes do you see couples making?
Too many couples get a late start in lining up the professionals that they need. Much of this comes from the belief that they can plan a full-blown ceremony and reception on their own and then they decide later to hire vendors. I strongly encourage couples to be realistic in determining just what they can and can't do by themselves.
What's the best tip you have for a couple planning a wedding?
Start early and at least consult with a professional. Reading a planning guide on a website or in a magazine just doesn't cut it
What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
Many couples are under the false impression that just anyone can perform their ceremony. The trend of so-called "online ordination" isn't valid in many states throughout the country. You'll even find articles and blog posts on various wedding websites explaining the process of having a friend or family member to get "ordained." The state of North Carolina does NOT recognize online ordination. There are organizations such as the Universal Life Church that actually claim that their so-called ministers are authorized to perform weddings in NC, but it just isn't true. And, even if it were true, do you want someone in charge of the most important day of your life who isn't a good public speaker? Someone who can't write a well-crafted, personalized ceremony? Many couples book their venue, hire a photographer, DJ, florist and caterer but if they stop there, they've just created a party — a big expensive party — but not a wedding. After 20+ years and over 300 weddings, I've seen just about every situation and scenario, and you can rest assured that you'll get hitched without a hitch!
What questions should couples be asking that they don't know to ask?
- Ask about your officiant's credentials. Many of the officiants listed on popular wedding websites aren't legitimately ordained. If their authorization to perform your ceremony consists only of a document that they've printed from a website they are not legally ordained to perform marriages.
- Determine whether or not your officiant will truly take the time to get to know you. Will they sit down and engage in conversation or just send you forms to fill out?
- Ask enough questions to determine if your officiant understands your culture and traditions. If you're Jewish, make sure they know the trick for the "breaking of the glass" (yes, there's a trick!) and that they understand the Jewish view of scripture readings (for example, the 3rd cord in the "triple braided cord" doesn't represent God). Determine what traditions and customs are important to you and your family and make sure your officiant is familiar with them.
- Feel free to present your officiant with "doomsday scenarios" such as what to do when the best man left the rings in the hotel room or when a petulant four-year old ring bearer refuses to give up the rings! These aren't "gotcha" questions, and a true professional will be able to answer quickly and with confidence.
What is the best piece of advice you have for a couple planning their wedding?
In addition to starting early, consider the expectations of your family as well as yours. I always tell my couples, "this is YOUR wedding" but if they didn't care about their family and friends they wouldn't be going to this much effort and expense. Even though I perform many secular ceremonies, I always encourage my couples to consider the religious needs and expectations of their family members. You can rest assured that at virtually every wedding performed in the "Bible Belt" someone has a close connection to his or her faith tradition. I've received too many admonitions from a bride or groom's grandmother (why is it always the grandmother?) because there wasn't enough of this or too much of that in the ceremony. It's so easy to include little elements of your family's religious background without having a full-blown religious ceremony and anything you can to get in the good graces of your future in-laws will benefit you in the long run!
What's the most unusual wedding you ever did?
Halloween Day of 2014. The theme was "Alice in Wonderland." The venue was decorated with calligraphy of quotes from the book and the decor looked like it was right out of a Lewis Carroll novel. And while that all sounds beautiful and sweet, I was asked to portray the March Hare! So — I walked down the aisle to begin the ceremony in a purple blazer and a multi-colored, garish bow-tie and the chain of a pocket watch dangling from my vest pocket followed by the best man dressed as the Mad Hatter. Needless to say, it was fun!
What was the most memorable wedding you ever worked, and why?
I don't recall ever performing a ceremony that wasn't memorable in its own way, but there's one in particular that always stands out in my mind. It was the perfect combination of a wonderful couple, a great planning team, and an amazing venue. It took place at the Overlook Barn in Beech Mountain, NC on the 4th of July weekend. The groom was born in Poland, the bride in the mountains of Appalachia. By carefully consulting with the couple I learned that in the Polish Catholic tradition, a family is presented with an ornate, carved candle on their birth. That candle is then used again at the child's baptism, first communion, confirmation, and at their wedding. We originally had no plan of doing something as commonplace as a Unity Candle ceremony, but I knew that it was just right for this couple. We found a rustic-looking, handmade beeswax candle at a shop in Beech Mountain to represent the bride's family and culture. The couples' mothers lit the individual candles at the beginning of the ceremony and I shared about their significance as Remi and Carmen lit the unity candle and there wasn't a dry eye among the guests. This couple truly symbolized the bringing together of not just two people, but two families, traditions, and cultures. It. Was. Beautiful.