How to plan the perfect wedding ceremony

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How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Ceremony Planning Tips & Ideas with Maryland Wedding Ceremony Officiant, Reverend Laura Cannon of Ceremony Officiants.

How to plan the perfect wedding ceremony

Often times, it’s the reception that gets all the attention — but we think the wedding ceremony is what really counts. We caught up with Reverend Laura Cannon to get her advice for couples who are planning a wedding. Rev. Cannon is the founder of Ceremony Officiants and personally performed more than 1,000 wedding ceremonies over a more than 15-year career as a professional officiant, and has a passion for creating interfaith and multi-cultural ceremonies.

It’s not much of a wedding without a wedding ceremony.

When should a couple book a ceremony officiant?


Securing any vendor for your wedding can be a scheduling nightmare. Our advice is to book the officiant as soon as you secure your venue.

“It’s not much of a wedding without a wedding ceremony,” said Reverend Laura Cannon of Ceremony Officiants. “You want to make sure you can actually find someone to legally marry you on the day you have chosen.”

The cost of an officiant is usually less than the cost of an artisinal cheese platter. We promise, your guests will remember the quality of your ceremony over the quality of your cheese plate.

What should a couple look for in an officiant?


First and foremost you want to make sure the marriage is legal and official. 

Reverend Cannon said, “Without the officiant, you just have a really nice party, but not a legal marriage!”

The officiant has a responsibility to perform the ceremony but must also take care of legal and ceremonial aspects. In Maryland, wedding ceremonies can be performed by an official of a religious order (for example an ordained minister), the Clerk of the Circuit Court, a deputy clerk assigned by the county administrative circuit court judge or a judge.

Prior to the ceremony, a couple must obtain a marriage license, which are issued by the Circuit Court Clerk’s office. There may be specific rules by county or city — your marriage officiant should be familiar with the laws and regulations that apply to your ceremony. You must be married in the county where your marriage license is purchased! Maryland marriage licenses are valid for 180 days and there is a 2-day waiting period between when you pick it up and when the ceremony can be legally performed. The marriage license must be signed by the officiant and returned to the issuing office before it expires.

It’s tempting for couples to try and “save money” or personalize their ceremony by using a friend or someone in the family. But Reverend Cannon cautions against it.

“We wish that couples knew how many calls we get from frantic couples who had asked a friend or family member to officiate and then weeks before the wedding they realize that not hiring a professional was a bad idea,” she said.

It’s important to hire a professional and with plenty of notice so that you can meet with them and prepare something special. And the cost, Reverend Cannon said, is usually less than the cost of an artisanal cheese platter.

“We promise, your guests will remember the quality of your ceremony over the quality of your cheese plate. Hire a professional officiant,” said Reverend Cannon.

What is your favorite ceremony element and why?


“Personalization!” said Reverend Cannon. “There’s nothing worse than a ceremony that feels like you could have inserted anyone’s names into it.”

Wedding rituals are one way to personalize a ceremony. At Herrington on Bay, we’ve seen couples mix sand, light a ceremony candle and incorporate religious elements or family traditions into the ceremony. It’s the personal details that stand out and make it enjoyable for you and your guests.

“One of our favorite memories is when we asked the guests to write a wish for the couple on seashells on their way into the ceremony. During the ceremony, we asked the guests to bring the shells to the beach with the couple. At the same time, the guests threw their wished upon shells into the Chesapeake Bay. It was a beautiful moment and a great photo opp for the photographer,” said Reverend Cannon.

With more couples having the ceremony and reception at the same space, the ceremony is the first impression of the event.

Are there any new trends in wedding ceremonies that you’re happy to see?


Rev. Cannon said she glad to see more people paying attention to the quality of the wedding ceremony.

“In the past when couples went to a religious house of worship for their ceremony and then moved to another location for the reception, it was acceptable for the ceremony to be dry and not that personalized or meaningful,” Reverend Cannon explained.

But that’s not the case today. 

“With more couples having the ceremony and reception at the same space, the ceremony is the first impression of the event. A professional officiant knows how to start the event off on the right foot to make the ceremony memorable, personalized and professional,” Reverend Cannon said.

Do you have any favorite memories from Herrington on the Bay?


Reverend Cannon said Ceremony Officiants had officiated over 60 weddings at Herrington on the Bay.

It’s one of our favorite wedding venues. We love that it is an eco-friendly wedding site and we love that it has different and distinct ceremony options from lush outdoor gardens to the beach front patio.

Connect with Ceremony Officiants


Phone: (800) 721-VOWS (8697)


Reviews on Wedding Wire



Ceremony Officiants is one of Herrington on the Bay’s Preferred Professionals. We also recommend the following officiants to couples getting married at Herrington on the Bay:

Allen Delaney
(443) 404 – 1048

Father Charles R. Schmitt
(410) 867 – 7880

Have Love Weddings
(410) 375 – 8671

Pastor Bill Cochran
(410) 442 – 5157

Captain Marty Weddings
(202) 288 – 8778

From This Day Forward MD
(301) 367 – 5163