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Up, Up, and Away! How Wedding Officiants With Unique Career Paths Create Unique Wedding Ceremonies

Published Wednesday, Dec. 9th, 2020

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

With a whoooosh of hot, loud air, the balloon climbed higher and higher into the sky. The shapes of trees and buildings below shrank quickly, until they were only a small, patchwork of colored squares. 


As the hot air balloon rose above the sprawling Las Vegas landscape, the wedding officiant standing in the large basket with a happy couple of newlyweds and their pilot couldn’t help but laugh. 


Officiant Janice* had decided years before that she’d never step foot in a hot air balloon. Never, not once.


She’d been an airplane pilot in her previous career, before becoming a wedding officiant full time, and she’d heard far too many tall-tales on the airfield about bumpy landings, broken bones, body casts, and faulty balloon equipment to risk the damn things. 


And yet, here she was. 


*For everyone’s privacy, officiant and couple alike, we’ve changed this daredevil officiant’s name to Janice. Thanks for this fantastic story, Janice.


How did she get here? 



illustration of hot air balloon wedding, how to plan wedding ceremony, officiant, las vegas


Up, up, and away! Adventurous officiants are a perfect match for adventure weddings.

Wedding officiants come from all walks of life, and many of them have spectacularly fascinating careers in their “past” lives. Those diverse skill sets are what give officiants their competitive edge, and help set them apart from other qualified officiants. This can be especially true when couples seek out someone to solemnize a unique wedding in a surprising location. 


When a young couple found out about Janice’s experience and comfort with heights, they approached her right away. Swayed by the beauty of those colorful puffs of man-made clouds gliding above, and the young couple’s enthusiasm, Janice agreed. 


“Ok,” she said. “Just this once.” 



illustration hot air balloon with wedding officiant, careers performing weddings, unique career path


Wedding officiants come from all walks of life, have all kinds of passions, and love new adventures, just like their couples do! 



As a woman of small stature, Janice needed help climbing into the basket. She and the couple laughed as she toppled in sideways, but soon they all got comfortable. High up in the air, it was quieter than she’d expected, and she performed the personalized ceremony she’d designed specifically for the couple. 


After she’d announced them married and they’d kissed happily high up in the clouds, she was eager to get back to the ground. 


Thankfully for everyone, it was a very gentle landing. 


This ceremony is a great example how an officiant’s diverse skills and strengths create opportunities to perform personalized marriages for diverse couples. Think about your background and passions outside of officiating, and determine whether or not to include them in your officiant bio and portfolio.


(Read How to write a compelling minister profile or personal bio.) 


For example, if you’re an avid hiker, mountain climber, or past ski instructor, you might be the perfect officiant for an outdoorsy couple with an idea for a rugged outdoor ceremony. If you love synchronized swimming or you’ve memorized Much Ado About Nothing, you may be the perfect officiant for a once-in-a-lifetime vintage pool party wedding, or a Shakespeare themed ceremony in the park. 


It’s also a useful example of what variables to weigh when deciding whether to say yes or no to officiating. Challenging yourself as an officiant can help you develop and expand your portfolio, establish new services and decide how much to charge, and find the ceremonies that make you feel the most rewarded in your work… but other times, saying no is best. 


(Read Putting Yourself Out There, How to Build Your Portfolio and Gain Exposure as an Officiant, Part One and Part Two)



What’s the most unusual location you’ve performed marriage in? We want to know! 

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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