One of the most frustrating aspects of being a professional officiant is the way our work, and our contribution to the success of our clients’ wedding day, is often overlooked or disregarded by other wedding professionals and by wedding magazines and blogs.
Some time ago I wrote this article about whether officiants are wedding vendors and, while it’s been shared countless times and sparked many interesting discussions online and on social media, it’s hard to say whether things have changed very much when it comes to wedding magazines in particular. While some national magazines such as The Knot’s Local Wedding Magazines generally do an excellent job of consistently including the name of the officiant in their “Real Weddings” section, other magazines and blogs are either inconsistent or intentionally exclude the officiant from the list of wedding professionals.
One such magazine is in my local market and they intentionally omit any mention of the officiant as a matter of company policy. While investigating this through emails with the magazine staff and conversations with other local wedding professionals, the best explanation I was given was that choosing an officiant was a “personal decision” for the couple and has nothing to do with the wedding or the other vendors.
It’s been incredibly frustrating, and many officiants have asked me to share the letter I sent to their editor so they can use it as a template when they encounter a similar situation. I’ve modified the letter to make it more generally applicable – hopefully this will help address this issue in your area as well!
Sample Letter To the Magazine Publisher:
Elegant Weddings Magazine
ATTN: Mr./Ms. Publisher
123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
Dear Mr./Ms. Publisher,
I was reading the Spring/Summer issue of Elegant Weddings Magazine and was so excited to see that you featured Sarah and David’s wedding at Westwood Inn – the photos are great! I performed their marriage ceremony, and am contacting you to get some clarity as to why my information wasn’t listed alongside all of the other wedding professionals who made their day possible.
Sometimes the couple forgets to include their officiant’s information if they submit their wedding for publication, or if a photographer submits a wedding on behalf of a couple they can sometimes forget to include all of the vendors as well. However, after looking through the rest of your magazine, I noticed that none of the weddings you featured include the wedding officiant in the list of wedding professionals.
If this was simply an oversight or an omission by the couple or photographer, as disappointed as I was to see everyone else included but me, I know that mistakes happen and hope to be included the next time one of my couples is featured in your magazine.
However, if it’s your policy to exclude the officiant’s information, I would like to establish a dialogue with you in order to understand why this is the case and try to address any concerns you may have about including officiants in your publication.
I am a member of the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO.ORG), and our association has been working diligently to ensure that professional officiants are regarded, and treated, equally to other wedding professionals such as photographers, disc jockeys, and wedding planners. If you are interested in learning more about this, there is an excellent article on the IAPWO website here: https://iapwo.org/articles/are-officiants-wedding-vendors/
I would love to have an opportunity to speak with you further about this. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 800-800-8000.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and have a wonderful day!
Rev. Professional Officiant
Officiant Company Name
Advice For a Productive Conversation
The “best case scenario” after sending a letter like this is that the publisher will immediately respond with an apology and commit to including the officiant’s information in future issues of their publication, although I’ve never actually had that happen. However, most blogs or magazine publishers will respond in some way, which provides the opportunity to engage in a conversation about it and seek a positive resolution. Here is my best advice for handling that conversation:
- Don’t Make Accusations – Communication stops when people feel like they’re being attacked. Most of the time, people don’t even know about professional officiants and have ommitted your information out of ignorance, not out of spite. If you approach a publisher in an aggressive way, chances are they won’t even be willing to listen to what you have to say.
- Seek To Understand and Educate – Start by asking questions. “I noticed that no other officiants were listed as well – why is that?” “Can you help me understand the logic behind that decision?” The more you can let them speak while you openly listen, the more you’ll be able to understand their position and position yourself to address whatever concerns they may have.
- Focus On Professionalism – The main reason why a publication would omit officiants is that they don’t think professional officiants represent an important part of the wedding day or the wedding industry as a whole. Communicate your role as a professional officiant and why it’s an integral part of the wedding day, and help them to understand that without a marriage ceremony, a wedding is just an expensive party. Be sure to highlight your membership in the IAPWO and your commitment to upholding professional standards –
- Highlight Similarities, Not Differences – Remember that the goal here isn’t to get them to consider the officiant more important than the other wedding vendors, but to consider them to be just as important as everyone else. Even though officiants don’t typically throw around large amounts of money for magazine ads, you can still help them see that your job, and the role you play, is just as vital to the success of the wedding as any of the other wedding professionals who you’re working with that day.
If each of us takes it upon ourselves to point these omissions out whenever we see them, even if we weren’t the officiant, it will go a long way to helping all of us achieve a level of parity with other wedding professionals.