Expert Excerpt: Victoria O Milne, Custom Wedding Minister

Years ago, people had very little choice in MANY things.  Then came Burger King and “Have it your way”.  It was the beginning of a wonderful concept of having things made special, just for you.  If you can choose whether to have a pickle or lettuce on your burger, what about choices in things that are far more rare and important?   Who wants the same wedding as everyone else?  Since the Ceremony is the Wedding, it should fit the wedding couple perfectly.  As a Custom Wedding Minister for All Faiths I am delighted to offer some ideas of how to have the Wedding Ceremony that is Perfect for you.


Ceremony at Glen Sanders Mansion


P  for PLACE:

One of the first things to consider is the setting for your wedding.  Have you dreamed of having a wedding outside or in a historic or fun location?  There are many types of settings:  apple orchards, river fronts, fields, museums, historic locations, private homes and more.  Some couples may choose to have the ceremony at a place that holds special meaning for their relationship.  Perhaps the site of the proposal, family acreage, or another location with symbolic or sentimental meaning is chosen for the wedding ceremony.


Ceremony at Saratoga National Golf Club: Photo Credit, Elario Photography


The second thing to consider is what kind of elements to have in your ceremony.  Elements can give your ceremony special meaning but special elements can distinguish your ceremony from all the weddings of your friends and relatives and everyone else who has married.  Your wedding ceremony is the beginning of your new life and it should fit you even better than your wedding attire.  It only makes sense to have the entire ceremony created for the two of you.

Special elements can include a one-of-a-kind reading.  I always offer couples the opportunity to have a reading that has special meaning for them, their family and guests.  A bride and groom who chose me to officiate were very proud of their military service.  In fact, their grandfathers shared their World War II military service.  During the unity portion of the ceremony, their grandparents stood and presented the couple with a beautiful wreath symbolic of their family history.  The wreaths were then united to form double joined rings, which were tied together by the bride and the groom………..I pronounced the couple,  “tying the knot in marriage”.  This unity celebration was created to honor the pride and heritage the couple shared.  For the aforementioned ceremony, I created an original reading from passages written in The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw to honor what the couple felt were important values to build their life together on. Readings, poems and songs are elements that are perfect for bringing added meaning to wedding ceremonies.


Bugler at Saratoga National Golf Club Ceremony, Photo Credit: Emma Dodge Hanson

R for REFLECTIONS of your personal tastes:

As a wedding minister, I find the best way to offer a custom ceremony is by getting to know my couples as well as I can.  Planning the wedding ceremony and the day can be a daunting task.  As a professional, I take the responsibility of guiding the couples through the ceremony.  They do not have to be an expert on everything as long as they have experts guiding them through the day.  This makes the journey to the wedding day one of joy and not dread or stress.  I also endeavor to meet family and friends and those who are important to them.  Meeting them helps me to learn a lot about the couple.  It helps to make the day perfect!

My goal for couples is to give them the perfect day where the words and elements of the ceremony are created just for them. Couples working with other Officiants should ask about what extent they will allow customizing for ceremony and schedule.  Some may allow the ceremony to be personalized and may expect the couple to do this themselves, others may combine pieces of ceremonies found on the internet or that come from civil or faith traditions.  Others will allow you to create the ceremony yourself and they will perform it and still others may allow very little in options due to religious rules.

When planning the ceremony, couples are often asked to consider what they would like the tone of their ceremony to be.  The tone could be solemn, intimate, light-hearted, religious or a combination. The tone of the wedding is delivered through all of the words and elements of the ceremony.  Would laughter be appropriate?  Or would telling the love story be an important part of the ceremony of marriage.  Do you love all that is traditional but want the elements arranged in a little different order for interest?  Each couple has their own desires for the ceremony.


Price is another consideration for wedding planning.  Couples should compare not only prices but services included in the price.  Some officiants may be available for rehearsal, some charge an additional fee for rehearsal and some may not offer a rehearsal.  Officiants may choose to work on your ceremony in different ways.   They might be available to work with you in the months before ceremony, they might want to meet or have you complete counseling or classes prior to the ceremony, others will just plan to arrive on day of ceremony.  Couples are encouraged to discuss and agree on all of the essential details with their officiant prior to securing their services.


You may also want to check on the credentials of your officiant. Are they legally able to solemnize the wedding?    Ship Captains can’t legally marry you except those aboard Princess Cruises.  New York State has gone back and forth about the validity of Ministers with Universal Life Church and On-Line Ordinations credentials as well.  Basically, recognized ordained ministers and some mayors, court clerks and town justices can perform weddings in NYS.  Different States have different rules.  You may want to know what qualifications, experience, education, licenses and certificates your officiant possesses.

Your officiant should guide you with regard to getting the license and having witnesses chosen to officially sign the license after the ceremony.  It will also be the officiant’s responsibility to have the license filed after the wedding ceremony.  Some couples that book special honeymoon packages for their vacation will want the minister to give them a special signed copy of the license for the Vacation Destination.


What would your officiant do if an unforeseen circumstance prevented them from officiating your ceremony?  Do they have officiants that could offer the same style of ceremony you desire?  Would they be willing to offer you the same ceremony with the same tone and elements you desire?  This is an important question to ask.  It is also important to ask if the Officiant has someone that will honor the agreed upon price for the same services, if they are unable to be there on the day of your event.  I have found couples are very relieved to find that I am able to provide them with the assurance of another officiant to perform the ceremony I create in the event of a personal emergency.


A consideration for couples should be references for their Officiants and Wedding Vendors.  Some people are shy about asking for this but let’s be honest, if someone has had a great experience they will want to tell you about it.  Additionally, you always learn something from talking to someone or reading a recommendation someone has written.

Life is not about one shoe size fits all, one burger does not fit all and one wedding definitely does not fit all.



Victoria O Milne, Custom Wedding Minister for All Faiths –

2 Responses to “Expert Excerpt: Victoria O Milne, Custom Wedding Minister

  • The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

  • Deborah DePasquale
    14 years ago

    LOVE the picture of Sam the Bugler! That picture was taken at my wedding! What a special moment that was. Sam played “Call to Post” to announce my arrival. This was my special gift to my husband…..and the guests enjoyed it too! It was fun to have him stick around for the cocktail hour and help announce us as Mr. and Mrs. and we joined our family and friends during the reception! Thanks SNGC for sharing our picture!!! 🙂

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