Choosing vendors you can trust to make your wedding or special event everything you dreamt of can be a challenge! One of the most common questions we get is “who do you recommend for . . . . ?” While we are planners and can book all your vendors for you, which ensures you always get the best of the best, we also love to offer our recommendations. We work with so many incredible people and we are looking forward to sharing them with you in our blog posts. This week we spoke with Clinton Andersen, Owner of Weddings with Clinton and officiant extraordinaire!
Where are you originally from?
My dad was in the military and I was born in Japan when he was stationed there. I subsequently spent about 6 years there, moved to the states for 6 years, and then back to Japan until I graduated High School. Colorado has been the longest I've ever lived in one place, so I consider Colorado my home, although I'll always hold a special place in my heart for Japan.
How long has your business operated in Colorado?
My business has been operating for about two years now, all in beautiful Colorado!
How long have you been working as a professional officiant?
I've been working as an Officiant for just as long. It all kind of started at the same time and has been growing ever since!
How did you end up as an officiant?
In one year I went to four friends weddings and honestly, I cant remember the officiant being that great. I was like everybody else, looking at my watch wondering when the drinks and party was going to start. So I joked around with my friends and said I would become an officiant! Now, during the day I work as an Emergency Manager for a hospital - essentially I'm always planning for people's worst day. So eventually the thoughts collided and I had my Yin & Yang. On one hand I am always planning for people's worst day, to improve outcomes, but with officiating I was planning for one of people's best days, and it truly is the perfect combination. The interesting part about it is that here in Colorado you have to be an ordained member of a religion or a judicial member to sign the marriage license (although, oddly enough, you can get married at the DMV.... yeahhhh....) but most of my couple aren't religious, they're spiritual, and truly what does a judge know about love - they are enveloped in hatred on a daily basis. So I found the American Marriage Ministries and became an ordained minister and BAM, I started down the wedding path.
How would you describe the importance of your role and why do you feel a couple should hire a professional officiant for their wedding or event?
This is a great question! Oh, man. Where do I start. Okay. The role of an officiant. SO... weddings are comprised of two parts - the ceremony and the reception, right? Now, be that as it may, the ceremony is really the reason we are there. Yeah, the reception is usually the most anticipated part BUT you could throw one heck of a party for significantly less if all you wanted to do was celebrate the fact that you got married, ya know? So that's where an officiant comes in. In my opinion the role of an officiant is two-fold - to celebrate the couple and to remind them of why they are standing there. Depending on your viewpoints, religious or non, this will look differently and traditionally has really only been about reminding the couple why they are there and not necessarily celebrating the couple themselves. So this is where the importance of a professional officiant can make a difference. The processional officiant knows how to draw out the elements of a couples story that should be shared, that should be celebrated. In addition, they get to know the couple in such a way that they are able to both effectively celebrate their story and at the same time drive home a message revolving around themes of love and commitment that are meaningful to that particular couple. Now, I definitely have had couples end up wanting a certain family member to officiate and usually that's because they're just trying to save a buck more than it is because their family member is a magnificent orator. I'm not going to caution anybody about this. That's like me being a salesman and telling you if you leave the offer is off the table. That being said, I would just make sure that you are going to be 100% happy with the result. Too often I have found couples wishing they would've gone with a professional officiant after the fact. Either they adlibbed, or weren't as great of an orator as they thought they were, or it was short, or it was one-sided, you name it. Plus, if you look at how much an officiant costs, we are one of the least expensive investments in a wedding - yet are one of the most important.
What do you attribute to your success as an officiant and what do you think makes you stand apart from other in your field?
Okay, so first what do I attribute to my success? Two things. First, my failed experiences. I was married, once. I had the opportunity to make it great but was an idiot on many different levels. Thus, my words come from experience. Second, me. I think my personality, my humor, and who I am bring success to me being an officiant. I'm not a dud. I want a great wedding full of emotion, that is wicked awesome, and that will be memorable. I want perfection for couples. I think those two things I attribute to my success. Along those same lines, I think that's what makes me stand apart from others in my field. I want people to think we've been best friends when I'm up there. I do this through a process I've refined, over the past couple of years, that couples appreciate. It's straight-forward, makes sense, and allows us to get to the crux of components that we can meld together in order to create the best ceremony possible.
At what point in the wedding planning process should clients hire you?
As soon as they hire anybody else. Our schedules fill up just as quick as everybody else and there are fewer of us out there then there are, say, photographers. It's May of 2019 and I'm already booking into the end of 2020. The good news is that, unlike photographers, we can generally do more than one wedding in a day.
What is the most important thing that couples should ask someone in your profession before hiring them?
I think what you previously asked - what makes you stand apart? As I mentioned, you can get anybody up there reading something they pulled of the web. Easy. Done. But is that what you want? A couple needs to define their expectations for the ceremony, first. I'm not talking "Oh, we want a prayer / unity ceremony / this grandparent to do this / this sibling to read that", no. Do you want humor? Do you want tradition? Do you want religion? I think you can probably gain a lot of that knowledge by simply asking, "what makes you stand apart".
What is the best part of your job?
READING THE COUPLES STORY! As part of my process I have the couples fill out a questionnaire, independently, that has a bunch of questions related to their story, questions I find are helpful in building their ceremony. I have them fill out their own because if done together it generally is a lot more censored and stiff. But when you get them to fill it out independent of each other you really get a good feel of who these two are to each other, and what they really mean. I have found myself laughing out loud, I have found myself crying, I just absolutely love it. A great couple can really have a better story then any RomCom I have ever seen. Seriously, they give me continued hope for love in the world.
What is your best advice for wedding clients?
Well, I'm going to sneak in two. First, the wedding is one day. It is most certainly a good challenge for the couple but it is one day - so enjoy the process, work together to tackle the challenges, and hire someone (like TeNeil) to help you manage the day - because just like Disneyland, it will be here and gone before you know it. Second, as an EMT and someone who works in a hospital I can tell you that every kiss you two share should be like it was the first (good) time you kissed. When you're running out the door because you're late, run to your partner, stop, pull them in close, kiss them slowly, make sure they know you absolutely love them with all of your heart, and then you can take off running out the door again. It literally takes 10 seconds. And if for some reason you never make it back home, those 10 seconds will make a world of difference.
What is your favorite thing about Colorado?
The fact that there is something to do no matter the season. Activities, food, drinks, friends... there is always something going on!
What is your favorite thing to do in Colorado?
Getting outside. There is something soul refreshing about that perfect, Colorado day. If you're a hiker, my favorite feeling is starting a hike to the top of a 14er at like 3 in the morning. I KNOW! Crazy. Hear me out. On a cloudless night, with no one else around, you start hiking through the trees. It takes effort. But after the trees start to thin and the sky opens up it feels like you can practically see every star in the Universe. Eventually, over the horizon, the sky starts to get lighter and lighter. Then, you'll eventually find yourself on top of the mountain for sunrise. Even though it may be 6am you accomplished a difficult task, you saw brilliant skies, and now you're on top of the world with the view of the sun illuminating the rest of the world. All before most peoples alarm clocks have gone off. How amazing is that?!