Switching careers can be a very daunting task. Often times when people do change their career path, it’s accidental and unplanned. More often than not however, it can be a very positive thing. Our next guest shares his story of transitioning from a Law career to officiating weddings…
Please introduce yourself to our readers…
My name is Michael, I’m a wedding officiant in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I moved to the islands 6 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio. I am married to an island angel and have 2 beautiful daughters. I have been performing weddings for 10 years and perform almost 200 weddings a year.
Can you tell us what company you work for?
I am self-employed as a wedding officiant at http://stthomasweddingofficiant.com.
What is your title there?
Wedding officiant, or Minister.
What are the exact responsibilities of your job?
I perform licensed weddings and vow renewals for couples in the US Virgin Islands.
What is it about your job that makes you love it?
My office is the beach. My clients are the happiest people in the world.
On the day of a wedding I spend about an hour going over the ceremony and getting into uniform. I have 3 different uniforms depending on the tastes of the couple – a dark suit, a flowered shirt with khakis or a shirt and tie with a black robe.
Each wedding ceremony lasts about 15 minutes. I typically arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony to meet the couple. So, for a typical wedding I spend between 30-45 minutes ‘working’. The amount of people who I get to meet is incredible. I meet thousands of people a year in the most intimate of settings, where for 30 minutes, they let me into their world and I get to share in the joys of their marriage. And occasionally I get invited to the reception!
With my abilities as an officiant I can make an enormous difference in people’s lives by making their wedding unforgettable. They will remember their wedding forever, and I get to be a part of it. I like to think my picture sits on every one of my couple’s mantles.
What particular skills or talents are most essential to completing your tasks?
1. Speak loudly and clearly. While performing beach ceremonies I have to compete with the wind and the waves. I’m typically being recorded by a videographer or an iPhone so I must ensure the ceremony is captured perfectly for posterity.
2. Being spontaneous. Mishaps and unexpected things happen all the time and you often have to change things on the fly.
3. Have a friendly and positive demeanor. For the 30 minutes I’m with my couples, they need to feel like they are the most important people in the world. Their wedding is often the single biggest and most emotional event in their lives. They need to feel the energy and excitement from me.
What level of education would you say is required to perform your role?
Do you find that you bring your work home with you? (And is that a good or bad thing?)
I bring it home, but it is a good thing. I love to share the ‘drama’ of each wedding with my wife. Maybe the groomsmen showed up late because they are hungover. Or the mothers of the brides don’t get along. The bride hates the flowers/cake/music. I performed a wedding recently where the Best Man drank a bit much and stripped naked at the beach to the horror of the bride’s and groom’s families. (Our beaches are not “clothing optional”).
How does this job compare to other jobs you’ve held in the past?
No other job I’ve ever had comes close. The time investment is minimal, the stresses are non-existent. The freedom is unparalleled. I get excited for every wedding. I doubt I will ever get tired or bored performing ceremonies.
What is your favorite food?
Conch and rice, an island specialty.
Thanks for sharing Michael!