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Become a Successful Wedding Officiant with this Brilliant Advice from Bethel Nathan

Published Friday, Jun. 4th, 2021

Cover image via Ceremonies By Bethel

Bethel Nathan explains the fundamental first step to becoming a successful wedding officiant or small business owner. 



What does it mean to be a successful wedding officiant? Or a successful business owner? 


What does success actually look like? 


And if you don’t know, how will you know when you get there?


Take a moment to really think about this. 



For some officiants, ‘success’ is measured in the number of weddings they perform each month. For others, it’s how closely they work with their community, or the friendships they make with each ceremony. Some officiants are thrilled to marry one or two family members a year, while others are building a full time business. There’s no one definition for success. 


Success is personal. That’s why to build it, you have to first define what it means for you


This is the simple yet profound advice that business coach and professional wedding officiant Bethel Nathan gives each new client she meets. She says it should be the first question any new officiant asks themselves when they decide to go into business. 


And it’s a strategy that’s made her wildly successful over the years, by any definition of the word! If you’re looking for business advice, she’s the one to ask. 


Decide what kind of business you want first. Then build it. 


Bethel spent nine years taking in the sexy spectacle of Wall Street from front row seats in New York, London, and Tokyo, including sales trading Japanese derivatives from an active trading floor during some of the most exciting moments in history. Then she changed gears, spending the next six years in sunny San Diego, transforming a successful family business into a thriving modern company through innovative business and financial practices.  


But she says it wasn’t until she created her own version of success that she was truly happy, and truly satisfied, as a business woman.


She asked herself: What kind of business do I want? What kind of business do I want to work for? What does success really mean to me


After being asked to officiate her brother’s wedding in 2006, and then two more weddings for close friends in 2008, the answer became clear. ‘Success’ was no longer the glitz and glamour of big business, or the sometimes-thankless administrative work of being a COO, although those things had certainly been exciting and fulfilling for a time. 


Bethel’s definition of success had evolved into something new, and her career needed to evolve with it. Excited by the mix of skills involved in working with couples and creating custom ceremonies, she launched her own full-time wedding officiant business -- Ceremonies By Bethel -- in 2009. 


Since then, she’s become a recognizable force in the wedding industry and small business world. She’s married over 1,000 happy couples with Ceremonies By Bethel, and her second business, Elevate By Bethel, offers unique services geared toward helping other small business owners define and build their own version of success, too. She's a frequent guest speaker on industry podcasts and at wedding conferences and events, Vice President of the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO), an avid world traveler, still speaks conversational Japanese, and is one of the most genuine people you’ll meet. 


But what makes Bethel most successful is that her success truly suits her. Like her, it’s genuine and authentic, built around her personal goals and values. 


If you’re a wedding professional, or hoping to become one, take Bethel’s advice and ask yourself this question: 


What does success mean to you? 


Then go out and build it! 



If you’ve never had the freedom to consider what kind of business you actually want to work for, this simple question ( What does success mean to you? ) can seem pretty complex. 


To help you get started, AMM’s put together a list of ten questions to fine-tune your definition success as you decide what kind of wedding officiant you want to become: 




  1. Are you a dress-up or dress-down kind of person? 
  2. Do you prefer large crowds or small groups?
  3. Do you have a flexible schedule?
  4. Do you want to supplement your income with a side job, or go full time?
  5. Custom ceremonies for every couple, or popular templates and familiar scripts? 
  6. Are you hoping to travel more, or less?
  7. Is there a type of community you’d really like to work with? 
  8. Are you comfortable with religious readings, or do you prefer non religious ceremonies?
  9. What’s your favorite part of interacting with others?
  10. What makes you feel really accomplished, at the end of the day? 




Order Asked to Officiate, the complete step-by-step workbook to officiating a perfect ceremony, written by Bethel Nathan and American Marriage Ministries. 




Image is a photograph of an American Marriage Ministries mug with coffee, on a desk next to a copy of Asked to Officiate, a complete guide to writing and delivering a wedding ceremony

(Coffee not included... sorry.)



Follow Bethel’s wedding adventures on Instagram!



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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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