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Q&A with AMM Minister Amber Olsen on her new book & giving couples an upper hand in ceremony planning

Published Thursday, Jan. 14th, 2021

At the start of the new year, we announced an exciting collaboration with ordained AMM Minister and professional wedding officiant Amber Olsen: the release of Navigating Your Wedding Ceremony, an all-new, one-of-a-kind guide for planning a one-of-a-kind wedding! 


We recently caught up with Amber over Zoom and a cup of coffee, to ask who her dream audience is for Navigating, and what she hopes the book will do for them. 


(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.)


AMM: Who is the ideal audience for this book? What readers did you have in mind as you were writing it?


Amber: My ideal [audience] would be a couple that cares a lot about their ceremony. Some couples just want the ceremony to be quick and done -- they want to get on to the party -- which is totally fine, but aren’t my ideal [readers]. My ideal [reader] would be a couple that really cares how they got to this point, and want to spend some time and effort talking about themselves and their relationship, and make their ceremony meaningful. 


That’s where I come in with the book -- Asking [the right] questions to guide them along that ceremony path. So those couples that really do want a ceremony that is a bit nontraditional… giving those couples a good resource -- on which direction to take, the questions they need to ask themselves, the things they need to know, how to prepare, all of those little details… [Showing them that] it can be whatever they want. 



AMM: Why is it so important for couples to ask vendors the right questions?

You include an extensive list of questions for couples to ask vendors -- from venues, to bakeries and videographers… everyone. They’re so thorough! How can this help couples?


Amber: You know, I feel that it’s really, really important for vendors to work together in order to create a kind of ‘unified environment.’ I’ve been working with vendors pretty much since the beginning of my officiating career… it’s given me a sense of what questions they want to know from a couple.


A ceremony isn't just, you know, ‘what elements do you want to be in your ceremony,’ ‘do you want it religious or non religious’, but also, who else is part of your wedding day? Who else are you working with to make sure that this is the type of ceremony that you want? 


And so that’s why it’s important to choose the right vendors by asking those important questions. If you have a vision for your wedding day, and you’ve got the officiant, you’ve got the flowers, you’ve got the perfect venue, but you’re working with a photographer that has a different style than your ideal, then that’s not going to live up to your expectations. I want couples to think about these things beforehand, so that they can really capture that [perfect] feeling on their wedding day.  



AMM: Why this book? 
Obviously it’s packed full of important information, all the questions a couple could ask, but why not just rely on, say, a wedding planner? What’s unique about this book? 


Amber: I think this book is different in that it comes from the wedding officiant, who sees a different side [of things] than say, the wedding planner. So, the planner, they’re more of the bigger picture, whereas the officiant, their job, basically, is exclusively the ceremony. So we focus on that. That’s the biggest part [to us]… Making sure that everything, down to the tiniest detail, is ready and organized and set up for that ceremony… All of those little details really make up how your ceremony sounds and turns out. 


A book coming from the officiant’s perspective can really delve into more of those ceremony details than it would otherwise, because we’ve been there. We’ve seen it, we’re familiar with it, we can give you insight and ideas, things you may not have thought about previously. 


I know after a lot of my meetings with couples, after going through a very detailed couple’s questionnaire, a lot of them just kind of laugh and sit back and say:

“We had no idea that there was so much that goes into the ceremony. We’ve been focusing so much [on] the reception, the music for the dances, timelines for cutting the cake. We never thought that our ceremony could be different. We never thought about what would be possible for our ceremony, and you’ve given us a lot to think about.”


And this book gets them thinking about those things?


Amber: Absolutely, it asks you all those questions you may not have thought about, questions to ask your ceremony vendors that will be working with you on your ceremony, questions about the ceremony [itself], such as what type of ceremony do you want? What do you want the feeling of your ceremony to be? What do you want to include in your ceremony? All of those little details that go into who they are.



A fun bonus fact we learned during this interview: 
Amber owns large talented German Shepherd dogs! As evidenced during our Zoom interview, they can escape from rooms, whether the doors are locked or not. Further proof that creative thinking and problem solving (and possibly magic) run in Amber’s family…


Order a copy of Navigating Your Wedding Ceremony for yourself or a newly engaged couple in your life by heading to the AMM store!

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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