J.D. Have you ever officiated a celebrity wedding? If not, would you want to?
A.F. I suspect I have not. I am not much of a celebrity watcher, so if a famous couple came to me for a small private affair, I could easily have officiated their wedding and not even made the connection. I honestly do not know if I would want to officiate a grand public celebrity wedding. I would have to meet with the couple first to decide if it feels right.
R.R. What, in your opinion, is the most important aspect to wedding planning?
A.F. I am going to answer with three things instead of just one. Flexibility, realism and purpose. You cannot control everything and any bride who tries to do so is destined for disappointment. Reality has a way of intruding on our best laid plans, so a smart bride will be prepared to go with the flow when things do not turn out quite as expected. Organization is key, but flexibility is even more important. Above everything though, it is critical to keep your eyes on the prize. View the wedding as the first day of your marriage rather than an end in itself and you'll be okay.
K.S. What is the worst thing you have seen happen at a wedding?
I do not really like talking about the things that go wrong because it will give the mistaken impression that, "this too can happen to you." Brides and grooms do not need one more thing to obsess over. That being said, the most challenging moment I personally experienced at a wedding was when two family members collapsed at the reception and we had to summon ambulances. One of the two was transported to the hospital and passed away that evening. The transition from wedding officiant to pastoral caregiver was fairly abrupt.
The worst ceremony experience would probably be the wedding where the bride was so ill she could not even stand up. We performed the ceremony with her seated in a chair and dropped several elements that would have required her to move. She was whisked away to the hospital following the ceremony, but was able to return briefly to the reception later.
T.W. What is your favorite part of the wedding ceremony?
A.F. An easy question! Definitely when I say either "You may kiss your bride." or "Please seal your marriage with a kiss." I can feel everyone's stress level plummet dramatically.
L.B. Have you seriously been asked to handle snakes as part of a wedding?
A.F. An even easier question. No, never.
C.A. What is the perfect wedding venue?
A.F. That is not an easy question to answer because it really does depend upon the type of wedding. Some venues are better suited to certain wedding styles and most venues inherently have capacity limits. I could list oodles of different types of places to get married that I think are just fabulous.
I will say that hotels like the Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Radisson and Doubletree are among my favorite venues for completely selfish reasons. I have the preference just because it often makes my job a little easier. Everyone is usually within a limited range, so it is easy to stay in contact with all involved in the moments leading up to the wedding. The hotel staff are responsible for some of the tasks I take upon myself at other types of venues. If the ceremony is planned to be outdoors and inclement weather moves into the area, we have a readily available safe alternative.
Put simply, the couple should pick out a venue that suits their tastes, accommodates their guests and fits their budget. That is the perfect wedding venue.