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From Volunteer Marriage Commissioner to AMM Minister: How a San Francisco wedding officiant found her calling during COVID

Published: Monday, Jul. 25th, 2022


When San Francisco City Hall halted civil wedding services during COVID, this Deputy Marriage Commissioner got ordained with AMM to help desperate couples get hitched quickly and safely. 

 


On her busiest days as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner at San Francisco City Hall, Dyanna Volek performed 3 marriage ceremonies every half hour. Some of the couples she married flew from far away states, just to tie the knot in the same halls where the country’s first same-sex marriages took place. 

 

She loved everything about the role – being a part of the city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ history, sharing in countless couples’ wedding days, and honoring the right of all people to marry, in any way they choose. 

 

But then the COVID pandemic hit. 

 

The city issued its first public health “shelter in place” order on March 16th, 2020, and City Hall halted all nonessential services, putting those quick and joyful civil ceremonies on an indefinite pause. 

 

Newly-engaged couples began to panic, unsure how to obtain marriage licenses from overwhelmed city offices. Couples with soon-to-expire marriage licenses also panicked, scrambling to find officiants to marry them in time. And everyone, Dyanna included, wondered what would happen next. 

 

Realizing that it might be weeks or longer before she could perform marriages at City Hall again, Dyanna decided to take matters into her own hands – and out into the open spaces of the city. 

 

Related: A Covid-safe Wedding Ceremony Script with Flowers and Lights

 

 

Dyanna Volek, wedding officiant, in black ceremonial robes and a decorative black face mask while officiating weddings during the COVID holiday season. She is standing facing the camera with a hand on her hips, with a large decorated Christmas tree with large gold bows behind her.

Decorative face masks became an unexpected wedding accessory during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo of Dyanna before a ceremony, courtesy of the officiant.

 

 

 

She was ordained by American Marriage Ministries on the same day the stay-at-home order was issued, and began performing small, safe, and distanced outdoor elopements for couples in need almost immediately. 

 

Her first ceremony was for a friend. Soon after, dozens more reached out. 

 

Guided by a few altruistic goals – to help people figure out how to get marriage licenses during a difficult time; to help couples who’d lost deposits to other vendors; and to follow evolving COVID protocols – Dyanna performed ceremony after ceremony quickly and safely. 

 

The gratitude she felt from couples was immense, but nothing compared to the love she saw between them as they took their vows during those uncertain months.

 

“What really gets me,” she told AMM, “is that you can really tell how in love they are. When one of them starts to tear up, then I get going…”

 


Wedding officiant Dyanna Volek reads from a ceremony script during an outdoor wedding ceremony in San Francisco. She wears a colorful flower print dress, standing in front of trees and bushes in the outdoor park setting.

Dyanna reads from a wedding script while performing an outdoor ceremony in San Francisco

Photo courtesy of the officiant

 

 


A little over two years later, Dyanna is still marrying people every chance she gets and her business –  W.E.D. by Dyanna – is thriving. Her ceremonies are custom-made for the couples she marries and celebrate the unique love they share.

 

“My focus is creating a beautiful and timeless ceremony for the couple where the officiant is in the background and the couple is front and center,” her Thumbtack profile explains.

 

And while she continues to work full-time as a Government Affairs Manager for the City, her work as a wedding officiant provides the opportunity to continue doing what she loves, and what attracted her to volunteering as a Deputy Marriage Commissioner at City Hall in the first place – supporting the city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community, celebrating couples on their wedding day, and honoring the right of all people to marry. 

 

 


Find Officiant Dyanna Volek on Thumbtack and Instagram

 

 

 

 

Wedding officiant Dyanna Volek stands in front of a microphone while holding a blue AMM script folio during an indoor wedding ceremony in San Francisco.  She has dark hair pulled back, with a black and white floral patterned dress.

Officiant Dyanna Volek delivering a wedding ceremony. 

Photo courtesy of the officiant. 

 

 

 


 

 

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About the Author
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves digging into the history and magic of ritual, exploring the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She’s an advocate for marriage equality and individuality. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys easy hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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