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10 Tips to Grow a Wedding Officiant Business from Norman Graham of Wed By Norm

Published Friday, Mar. 15th, 2024

Officiant Norman Graham poses in a stylish purple suit next to a beautiful gazebo decorated with flowers on a spring day. He is smiling toward the camera
Officiant Norman Graham

Make your first year of business a success with advice from Wedding Officiant and Notary Norman Graham 



Is your wedding officiant business less than a year old? Are you looking for practical advice that fits the current demands of the wedding industry and helps you attract more couples to marry?


It’s true that your first year or two as a professional wedding officiant will probably be a challenging time, but it’s also the most exciting. You’re discovering what makes you stand out from the crowd, how to handle scheduling and payments, what to include in an officiant contract, how to weed out the scams, advertise your services, and deliver better ceremonies.


And because the wedding industry changes quickly, you’ll benefit most from a combination of timeless advice and timely advice – evergreen tips from old pros and fresh perspectives from emerging industry leaders. 


With that in mind, AMM spoke with up-and-coming officiant Norman Graham of Wed By Norm, and asked what advice he’d give officiants who are in their first year of business. 


Officiant Norman Graham poses with the newlyweds after a beach wedding ceremony

Photo courtesy of the Officiant

Officiant Norman and two happy newlyweds following a beautiful beach wedding. 



Norman has been performing weddings for about two years under the banner Wed By Norm, based in Central New Jersey. He’s charismatic, funny, and incredibly knowledgeable… not to mention stylish. And as a relative newcomer to an industry that’s often dominated by the strong opinions of seasoned officiants, his creativity and success stand out.


Norman started his business mid-pandemic, adding ‘officiant’ to his title as a notary in 2022, just as weddings and the role of wedding officiant were being redefined. His approach to business is a mix of collaboration, community, creativity, and taking chances.


He says, “I became a wedding officiant by accident... I was doing this as a favor for another notary. She contacts me and says, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about doing a wedding? I think you’d be really good at it, and I have a situation – I have a wedding in New York, and I have a wedding in New Jersey, and both of them are on the same day at the same time. Do you want to take one of them?’ And I was like, ‘ok, what do I need to do?’”  


That leap of faith led him down a new path of adventure and professional success. In just two short years, Norman has officiated dozens of weddings and established himself as a trusted colleague and vendor. His business, Wed By Norm, has become a recognizable brand, and he works as an officiant coach to help other officiants grow their brands.


He’s an alumni of AMM’s Officiant Accelerator seminar, and was recently accepted into WeddingPro’s coveted Fellowship for Change, a year-long small business program that provides expert-led education, mentorship, advertising support and more to historically underserved professionals.  


The memories of those early days are still fresh in his mind, and make him a valuable resource for officiants who are just starting out in the post-pandemic wedding landscape. 


To put it simply – he knows his business. 


Here’s what he had to say! 
(Quotes lightly edited for clarity and length.)


Newlyweds pose with AMM Minister and wedding officiant Norman Graham

Photo courtesy of the Officiant

Happy newlyweds! 



10 In-Depth Tips to Grow Your Wedding Officiant Business 
Advice from Notary Officiant Norman Graham, Wed By Norm


1. Practice 


Norman’s first piece of advice is to practice before the ceremony, and we couldn’t agree more. 


Practice your wedding ceremony script by reading it out loud. Use a timer to make sure you’re not reading too fast or too slow, read in front of a few friends if you’re nervous, and practice words or names that are hard to pronounce.  


Then, practice unity rituals or elements you aren’t familiar with, such as tying a handfasting cord or leading a tea ceremony. Ask another officiant or a friend to help you. Even experienced officiants need to practice new skills!


Remember – there are no do-overs on the wedding day. So practice, practice, practice.


Norm said this about his first ceremony: 


“My first couple actually had a handfasting ceremony. Of all the weddings I’d attended, I never saw or heard of a handfasting until this time. So me and the other officiant practiced in the library, because I’m like, ‘This looks like something that I cannot mess up, I have to do this right. There’s no do-overs to handfasting. So, we practiced and then everything was successful. The wedding day came; the couple was really happy.”


2. Bring someone with you to take photos


Ceremony photos make great advertising for your officiating business, but they can be hard to come by. Wedding photographers won’t always share their best shots with you (or ghost you altogether), and couples can forget or decline to send photos after their ceremony is over. 


Norman recommends bringing a friend to the ceremony to take photos to use as content on your website or social media platforms, because requesting photos after a ceremony is hit or miss:


“It's crazy… like if you don't bring somebody else with you? Your likelihood [of getting photos or content] is 50-50, because, you know, some photographers, either they're professional or they're friends hired by the couple, and it’s either ‘we’re going to answer you… or we’re not,” he says, laughing. 


3. Always bet on yourself 


Norman says one of the most important pieces of advice he’s received is to bet on yourself – believe you have what it takes to succeed and give it your best shot. 


Remember that every professional officiant starts in the same place – with their first wedding ceremony! Being new to the industry doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes, it just takes time to learn new skills. So take a chance on yourself, and bet on your success. 


Norman told us, 


“Bet on yourself. That's one thing that the woman who introduced me to weddings [taught me] – always bet on yourself, because you never know the opportunities that you can get. And put your best foot forward, because whether the client ‘gets you’ or not, you always want to make that first impression great.”




Officiant Norman Graham poses with bride and groom during an outdoor ceremony

Photo courtesy of the Officiant

You never know where officiating will lead you... bet on yourself! 




4. Learn from your mistakes


Mistakes will happen, it’s just part of learning a new profession – and part of being human! Instead of letting them get you down, Norman sees mistakes as opportunities to learn something new. Use these lessons to improve your contract, dial-in your service packages and pricing, and find what works for you.


He says,  


“Learn from your mistakes. And, some of them might not even be ‘mistakes,’ they just may be things you didn’t know that were going to happen.” Use them to improve!


5. Have a solid contract and add to it as your business grows


A solid contract is essential! Your officiant contract sets the ‘ground rules,’ protects you and your couples financially, and can quickly clear up any misunderstandings that arise. Remember that your contract is a living document, and should be updated, edited, and refined as your business grows. 


A good contract will always include clear information on pricing, late fees, travel fees, cancellation fees, weather and holiday clauses, how illnesses or emergencies are handled, backup officiant options, and other common issues. 


Norman has used a contract from the beginning, and adds to it as new considerations come up: 


“I've had a contract from the beginning, but as time went on, I added on to my contract because of different scenarios… At my second wedding, my client was two hours late! Two hours, with no additional money, no ‘I'm sorry,’ just walked in like nothing… The lesson from that was to add a late fee to my contract.” 


6. Find what makes you stand out & make it your brand


Authenticity and personality are vital to your success as an officiant. Couples choose officiants they vibe with! Take the time to learn what makes you unique as a wedding officiant, what will make you stand out from the crowd, and make your service ‘style’ resonate with the type of clients you want to attract.


This includes deciding what to wear when you officiate, the colors and fonts you use for your advertising materials, your business name, whether you’re more formal or informal when talking to your clients, and so on. 


Norman says, 


“You just have to know yourself as a vendor, there’s a lot of niches that you can get into. Figure out what makes you stand out compared to other people. This is what I say to [officiants I mentor], I tell them like, ‘What makes you stand out compared to the other officiants?’ Because out there, it’s just a matter of if [the couple] doesn't like you, they're going to get somebody else. Or if they don’t resonate with you, they’re going to get somebody else. So what can you do to make them say, ‘I need *you* to officiate my wedding.’


‘Standing out’ doesn't have to be physical, it could be how you present yourself, how you present your packaging. I would say branding is definitely important. What I do is, my advertisements are similar colors so that you know ‘that’s Wed By Norm’ [when you see it.] You have a logo [and business name,] something that stands out and that's not too long, but catchy. 


Also for me, my branding is the attire I wear. I usually go with a nice blazer, and some [nice] shoes and some slacks. So sometimes you’ll realize what your brand is [by how others describe you.]”


As an example, Norman recounts the time he attended AMM’s Officiant Accelerator in New York City. He wore a casual polo shirt and dress pants because of the August heat, and a fellow-officiant told him that she almost didn't recognize him without his signature colorful blazers and slacks. He says, “That’s an example of her watching me, and knowing my brand.”



Officiant Norman at AMM's Officiant Accelerator

Photo courtesy of the Officiant

Officiant Norman poses at AMM's NYC Officiant Accelerator, going incognito in his business casual clothes.




7. Don’t take it personally


When a couple chooses not to book with you, it isn’t personal – it just means it wasn’t a match, or it wasn’t a match right now. You won’t be the right fit for every couple, and that’s ok! 


Norman says, 


“Do not take it personally. Because there will be clients that do not want to book with you, and that’s fine. I’ve had clients who have said ‘unfortunately, not now,’ or ‘unfortunately, I found somebody else that I resonated with, and that's perfectly fine. Because every client may not work well with you, and vice versa. So I say, don't take it personal. Just know that sometimes it is probably a good thing that they didn't book with you.” 


8. Network with other officiants and vendors


Community is an essential part of growing a successful wedding officiant business. Officiants are part of a network of vendors that contribute to the wedding day in different ways – you need each other!


Form close relationships with other officiants you respect. These officiants are the people you trust and can refer clients to when you’re booked; they’re sources for referrals and can serve as backup officiants if you can’t make a ceremony; they can mentor you in new skills, answer questions, and become dear friends. Remember, community will serve you more than competition will. 


Norman tells us that couples will always think they’re more ready than they are. They think they have all the vendors they need lined up… but they probably don’t. They’ll appreciate recommendations from you for photographers, florists, DJs, caterers, and more, so it’s important to know vendors in your area who you trust to do a great job. 


He says, 


“People in my community, knowing what they do, and knowing the quality of it, [that’s important.] I'm going to try to refer them first. Because you know, they're my community, they’re my people, and I’d rather money get in their pocket so we can all eat together. I'm not recommending somebody that I can’t put my name on, because, like, your word is as good as gold. I’m not going to get somebody who’s going to be a little flaky.


And I also [form relationships with] other people that I've worked well with during certain ceremonies. There will be certain vendors that you resonate well with. Contact them, you know, you might do a partnership. That's what I'm really aiming for in 2024, making partnerships between myself and other vendors. Having more people [I trust and can recommend.] I already have a few officiants that I can call to do a wedding [if I can’t make it,] a backup person, that I’m able to provide just in case.”



Officiant Norman Graham poses with other officiants at a meetup for wedding vendors hosted by the Wedding Officiant Academy

Photo courtesy of the Officiant

Norman poses with friends and fellow wedding officiants at an Officiant Meet Up networking event, hosted by the Wedding Officiant Academy for vendors serving New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.



9. Don’t rely on social media alone to get your name out 


When we interviewed Norman, he was in the middle of a ‘social media fast,’ which means taking some time away from online social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to avoid digital burnout. Digital burnout is probably something most people can relate to, and taking breaks from social media can do wonders for your mental health… But it can also feel terrifying or impossible to do as a small business owner.


That’s why Norman recommends not relying on social media alone to establish your business. He suggests investing time and energy in multiple channels to get your name out – old school methods like flyers, business cards, networking with other vendors, getting on preferred vendor lists at venues in your area, and really getting to know people in your communities. Set up a Google Business profile and a good website, too.


Norman says,


“There are multiple ways of promoting yourself, and it doesn't always have to be on your social media. Like, for example, I don’t get clients from Instagram, the good thing about my Instagram is that it helps people decide if they want to book me or not, because they see the work [I’ve done.] 


But I want people to be innovative in their marketing. We have to be. You know, most of your ideal clients might not even be on Instagram! So, think of the older ways, before social media – flyers or business cards – so now they can’t forget me."



10. Know the rules & know your role 


Perhaps most importantly, you must know and follow the marriage laws in the states where you officiate. As a professional officiant, couples trust you to know what needs to be done and to do it – on time, every time. 


Norman says, 


“Especially with newer officiants and people who are just getting ordained – Know the rules for sure, and know your job as an officiant. 


Because it's not only making sure that you say a script, it's also making sure that they know to get the marriage license, and that you are following the state laws of the state they’re getting married in. Nothing sucks more than having to marry somebody, and then finding out they were never legally married, and now, their expiration date for their marriage license is over.”


We couldn’t agree more! Check out the marriage laws and officiant responsibilities in your state here: 





About the Expert


Photo of Officiant Norman Graham smiling, in a white button up shirt and red tie. He is wearing glasses and has a friendly welcoming smile.Norman I. Graham
Notary, Wedding Officiant, Officiant Mentor / Coach, and Business Owner at Wed By Norm and Notarize With Norm


Norman Graham is a professional wedding officaint and NNA Certified traveling notary, and owner of Wed By Norm and Notarize With Norm. His wedding business is based in Central New Jersey and serves clients in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and beyond. 


He specializes in custom wedding ceremonies and elopements of all kinds. He has a special talent for creating fun, memorable, and authentic wedding experiences, including one-of-a-kind theme weddings, religious and humanist celebrations, and more. He's been ordained with American Marriage Ministries since 2022. 


Wed By Norm is also a two-time Couple’s Choice Award winner on WeddingWire! 


Connect with Norman online or face-to-face: 


Instagram / Facebook / WeddingWire / LinkedIn / WedByNorm Website




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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