A Wedding With Heart
Arissa Rench, Wedding Celebrant & Officiant
What is your “style?”
You’ve got a lot on your plate. Not only do you have your lives to live but suddenly you've become event planners. You and your sweetheart are swept up into a whirlwind of decisions and details - everything from “what’s our first song going to be?” to “can we get peonies in August?” The ceremony is the “heart” of your wedding day. I help lead you back to that heart.
One of the things I love most about this work is hearing your story – how you met, when you decided to get married, what you love about each other and other meaningful pieces. I then weave these details into the ceremony so it is unlike anything else you or your guests have heard.
Many of the couples I’ve worked with have told me they appreciate my warm and personal approach and the care I took in helping them create a wedding that felt “just right”. What I do is help put together a ceremony that is a reflection of the two of you – your unique style, your story together and what’s important to you as a couple.
What makes you different from other officiants?
I take the time to get to know you. By listening deeply and with true curiosity, I learn what you love about each other and why this is the person you’ve decided to marry. And this is what I reflect back in your wedding ceremony.
The ceremonies I do are absolutely unique. Instead of sending you several versions of a wedding ceremony for you to choose from, I work with you to create a ceremony “just for you.” I write an original piece based on your story together and the love you share that’s part of the ceremony. Once I get to know you, I make suggestions for readings, quotes, rituals and music that might have meaning for you. In short, I take a decidedly non “cookie-cutter” approach. You are unique; why shouldn’t your ceremony be?
I give you a treasure. In addition to a beautiful ceremony you’ll always remember, that is!
After your big day, I send you a lovely keepsake copy of your entire wedding ceremony.
This is something couples cherish and read together for years to come.
Finally, I have thirteen years experience officiating weddings and other ceremonies. It's my calling, my true work and I do it with joy and with love!
Why not just have a friend or family member officiate our wedding?
Sometimes this can be a perfect choice, yet it’s important to consider a few things before making this important decision. First, this person may love you very much, but are they a good public speaker? Do they have the writing and organizational skills to put together a meaningful and heartfelt ceremony? Do they recognize that the ceremony is ultimately about you?
Also, if your friend or loved one officiates your wedding, they won’t be able to witness and “take in” the moment in the same way. They’ll be focused (as they should be) on their role and the job they’re doing. They won’t be able to relax and enjoy the celebration of your union.
Finally, a professional officiant does more than deliver the ceremony. She leads your rehearsal so that you and your wedding party feel comfortable on the big day. She arrives early before the wedding to do everything from test the sound system to check in with the venue to make sure everything is set to go smoothly for your big event. After all the time, energy and resources you’ve invested in making this day special, isn’t it worth that peace of mind?
What if we decide to have a family member or friend officiate - can you help us?
Yes! Sometimes a couple simply has their heart set on that special person performing their wedding ceremony and as I said, there are times it is a perfect choice. What I've done with these couples is serve as a consultant and support person to ensure that all goes smoothly on their big day. I can give you as much or as little help as you want. Anything from being on hand to consult about ceremony content and logistics to writing your entire ceremony, working with your officiant and leading the rehearsal - everything except actually performing the wedding!
Here's what Laura & Devin had to say about the ceremony I wrote for them:
"The smiles, tears and numerous people saying, 'I think that was the best ceremony I've ever attended', only reassured our faith and trust in you. You're a talented writer who helped turn our wedding day into an unforgettable memory. Thank you for your love and support - without your help and guidance we could have never made it to the finish line"!
How do we set up a meeting with you?
I always offer couples a chance to connect to see if we are a good fit. We schedule a video or voice call and spend a little time getting to know each other. Most of the couples I’ve worked with told me they knew right away that I was a perfect fit for them.
It’s very important to choose an officiant that feels right to you both. You want to feel good about the person standing up there with you at one of the most important moments in your life. How do you find the right officiant? By talking to several and then “going with your gut.”
Some couples, especially those from out of town, book without an initial meeting. In those cases, I’m happy to schedule a phone conversation. To set up a meeting with me, email [email protected] or call (206) 384-9843. You can also use the easy form on the Contact page.
What are your fees and how does this work?
Fees range from $250 for a simple paperwork signing (an exchange of vows and signing your certificate) up to $1,250 for full and formal weddings beyond Seattle. The average for weddings in Seattle is around $895. Once I know the details of your ceremony and what you have in mind, I can give you a firm quote.
In addition to the many hours spent writing your "Love Story", creating and crafting your ceremony, my fee includes any time needed to communicate with you to prepare your custom ceremony, It also reflects my arriving early on your wedding day to ensure all goes smoothly. In addition, I’ll be attending your rehearsal, traveling to and from your venue and more.
Finally, my fee includes ceremony revisions, emails and phone contact and support, wedding planning guidance and submitting your signed legal paperwork to the County.
My goal is not necessarily to have the lowest fee but to offer the highest level of personalization and service. As I tell couples looking for an officiant: make sure their heart is in their work. Mine certainly is. . .
Do you offer premarital coaching?
Yes! In fact, I've come to think of it as a critical piece of my work. So much time and energy is spent planning a wedding it's easy to lose sight of the most important thing: you are choosing to spend the rest of your lives together. What about planning being married?
Premarital coaching is a chance to look at your relationship - what's working beautifully and what could use some fine-tuning. It's an opportunity to answer some questions together about your needs, desires, values, beliefs and expectations. It's a chance to dream about what you want your life together to be.
Like the rest of my work, my premarital coaching is not pre-packaged or a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, you choose as a couple, the topics you'd like to explore along with the questions you'll use to facilitate that conversation. I'll be there to listen, reflect and support you both as you appreciate your strengths and explore some hard questions. In the final session, we'll focus on creating a vision of your future. That process will clarify where you want to go and motivate you to set your course today so you can achieve your dreams for tomorrow.
So amidst all the excitement, preparations and planning, set aside some time to get to know each other more deeply. Make some space to look at the issues that can trip couples up if they're left unexplored. Come back to the truth that underlies it all: this is the person you're choosing to spend your life with and you want to make that life as wonderful as it can be!
Premarital coaching is available in packages of three, six or nine 75 -minute sessions during the months of October through May.
Once we book with you, what happens next?
After we’ve decided to work together, I will send you an agreement that outlines the details of your wedding day and rehearsal along with my responsibilities and commitment to you. You then mail it back to me with your signatures and a $300 deposit to reserve your wedding date and time. The remainder may be paid at your rehearsal.
Now we begin our work together creating your one-of-a-kind ceremony. Most often I start with a phone call to each of you to learn more about what’s unique about you and your sweetheart. After that, I will send you selections for various parts of the ceremony as well as getting to work writing an original piece just for you. Approximately 30 to 90 days before your wedding day I will send you a draft of the ceremony for you to look at and make changes and suggestions.
I am also available by phone or email anytime during the planning process to answer questions or talk over concerns.
How long is a wedding ceremony?
Most non-religious ceremonies are about 20 to 25 minutes, which includes the entrance/processional, the ceremony and recessional. Elopement or simple & sweet ceremonies are typically about 10 to 15 minutes.
As far as the length of your ceremony goes, you want to make sure you have enough time (after your heart stops pounding!) to relax and actually be in this moment you’ve been moving toward for so long. But you also don’t want to be up there so long you and your guests start to get itchy. What I’ve found to be more important than the number of minutes is whether the elements of the ceremony feel right and true to you. And that is what I do – help you create a ceremony that is all yours.
On the wedding day, when do you arrive?
I typically arrive 45 minutes early so I can check in with the couple, their wedding party and family. I also walk through the ceremony space to make sure everything is in order, check the sound and touch base with the DJ, musicians, venue coordinator, etc. to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Do we need a wedding rehearsal?
It depends. If it’s a tiny ceremony, with just you and a couple of witnesses, then probably not. But if you have a wedding party - bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and a ring bearer – then I highly recommend it. You’ve put a lot of time, energy and money planning this once-in-a-lifetime experience – a rehearsal can help ensure that your vision becomes reality.
What do you do at the rehearsal?
I re-connect with the two of you and meet your family and friends. I help everyone get familiar and feeling comfortable about their part in the big day. We do a run-through of the processional and recessional, establish where you and your wedding party will stand at the altar, who will hold the rings, etc. Basically, I lead you through all the parts of the ceremony where someone moves, saving the words and special rituals for the big day.
This can be a time when people start to get nervous – the wedding is right around the corner, family dynamics are at play and sometimes, important people are meeting for the first time. For me, it’s essential to use humor and have fun so that everyone feels at ease. I want you to walk away feeling relaxed and confident that you’re in good hands.
How long does a rehearsal last?
I typically allow for 45 minutes to one hour for a rehearsal. Many venues schedule rehearsals back to back, so it’s important we start on time so that you have the benefit of all your allotted time.
What about writing our own vows?
Absolutely! This ceremony belongs to you. For some couples, this can be a great opportunity to put their commitment and promises to each other in their own words. I’ve heard everything from tender and intimate to downright hilarious. If you want guidance in writing your own vows, just let me know.
Can children and other family members take part in our ceremony?
Of course! I will help you find meaningful ways to include your children or other family members in your ceremony if you wish. This can be done a variety of ways – through a heartfelt ritual, the inclusion of a relevant reading or your loved one playing a special role in your ceremony. Several of my clients have included children in their special day. And yes, I’ve officiated weddings where the dog was the ring-bearer!
How do we secure our marriage license?
I often joke this is the easiest part of planning a wedding. It simply involves a visit to the Records Office where you and your sweetheart show ID, fill out a simple form, pay a fee and walk out with your marriage license. If it's not convenient to come downtown, there are several satellite offices in King county or you can apply by mail. Easy!
For more information about marriage licenses in various counties, please visit the following links:
Do you travel outside of the Puget Sound area?
You bet! I’ve traveled out of state as well as out of the country and have performed weddings on beaches, in forests, on mountain tops and parks far and wide as well as in churches, hotels, restaurants, private homes – the list goes on. Name your place – I’ll make every effort to accommodate you!
What is the best way to contact you?
I would love the opportunity to work with you to make your wedding unforgettable!
Contact me either by phone or email – (206) 384-9843 or [email protected]
You can also go to the “Contact” page and fill out a quick and easy form.
However you reach out, I’ll get back to you quickly!