Wedding Harlem Shake

Being a wedding officiant in Jacksonville, FL is a really fun job. This past Saturday, after I made the wedding announcement, the bridal party, brides and myself surprised the guests by doing the Harlem Shake.

That Wedding Lady, (904) 583-6688, Jacksonville FL

Tags: country club orange park, lesbian wedding, harlem shake

Flower Girls & Ringbearers – How Young is Too Young for Weddings?

Flower girls and ringbearers can be so cute in weddings (in a perfect world.) How young is too young is a question I’m never asked but inevitably faced with the consequences of. Most brides tell me “it is what it is and that’s okay with me,” yet really have no idea of what “it” means. My guess is they imagine some adorable shenanigans that will be immortalized in photos or videos of the wedding.

The reality is pretty far from that actually.

flower girls, ring bearers and other little brats

Kids under the age 8 are the great unknown and, quite honestly, can ruin your wedding or at the very least, totally detract from your magical moment. Kids over 8 do a decent job and if there is going to be a cute, catch it on film moment, this group that will provide it.

Here’s what to expect from younger tykes: (actual stories from weddings I’ve performed)

o   Annabeth is a 3 year old flower girl and looks amazing and precious and cute as a button on Stephanie’s wedding day. She immediately precedes the bride and is supposed to walk daintily throwing flower petals on the ground for Stephanie to stride upon. Instead she appears to be shot out of a cannon as she rockets to the front where her mom is waiting as one of the bridesmaids whereupon she starts crying and clinging to her mother’s gown. Everyone starts laughing. It is cute (for about 5 seconds.) As Stephanie is escorted to the front by her brother (and the flower girl’s father,) Annabeth ramps up her crying until it becomes a shrieking that is just below the decibel that only dogs can hear. Unfortunately for us, we can still hear her. By the time the flower girl’s father reaches the front with an increasingly distraught bride, the flower girl is now jumping up and down in the middle of the ceremony screaming, “I have to poo poo. I have to poo poo.” I’ve no choice but to begin the ceremony as neither the child’s mother nor father are able to come corral her since they are both in the wedding party. My opening statement is lost in the shrieks of the fecally challenged toddler, the bride is crying and the audience looks uncomfortable. Mom and dad of kid look like they want to crawl under a table. I immediately change my order of the ceremony so I can get to the “Who gives this bride question” that dad may give his answer and take the little monster….er…..darling away.

o Bradley is a 5 year old ringbearer who is the spitting image of his dad and totally adorable in his tiny matching outfit. Unfortunately for the bridal party who have not listened to Bradley’s repeated proclamations that he does not want to be a ringbearer, they are now faced with a sullen faced Bradley. Everyone from mom, dad, grandma, uncle bob and barney the purple dinosaur have tried to cajole, bribe, threaten, sweet talk little Bradley into performing his part gracefully who is having none of it. The ceremony starts. Everyone looks beautiful. The music is lovely. The temperature spot on. The wedding party makes it way forward to the dais. All eyes are on Bradley as he takes three steps….stops….takes another step….stops….then promptly throws the rings into the creek below the bridge we are standing on and runs away. You can imagine the rest….. A ceremony completely halted. A state of disarray. Plans ruined.

o This next story involves neither flower girls nor ringbearers. Instead it touches on a family who have invited treasured family members to sit in the front row on their special wedding day. However, with forethought withheld it seems, the family members are all parents to babies ranging from very new to one year……five babies to be exact. Prior to the ceremony both bride and groom have separately told me that if a baby cries, it’s no big deal. Who could have expected that all five babies would beging crying at top volume simultaneously? Moreover the parents simply sat there instead of removing the crying babies. Not only was every word of the ceremony lost as neither the audience, the wedding party or anyone else on Earth heard them but the bride and groom were so distracted by the outcome that neither was able to pay attention to the ceremony and kept glancing at the babies. I literally had to constantly reach out and touch them on the arm to get their attention back on the wedding.

As a wedding officiant, I am one part officiant, one part unplanned wedding planner and one part solver of problems. There have been times when I’ve had to take a time out during a ceremony to solve a problem, ie., helicopters buzzing the beach during vows requiring before continuing, music snafus throwing off cues mean quick adjustments, dads who are clearly about to faint to suggestions they take their seat prematurely. It requires a nimbleness and ability to quickly resolve a wedding blip before it can become a problem.

Children however are so incredibly mecurial, so unpredicatable that very often, we are simply forced to endure the outcome. Any resolution we might be able to come up with is as equally unpalatable and distracting as whatever behavior they are exhibiting.

Thus I provide this humble advice from a wedding lady who has not yet seen it all but has seen a whoooooooooole lot……no kids in the wedding party under the age of 8. (And baby free weddings are the smartest bet.)


Commitment ceremony for seniors

This morning I performed a commitment ceremony for the two most adorable senior citizens. Pension payouts and other financial concerns means they can’t get married. That didn’t stop these two lovebirds. From the 22nd floor in her senior center apartment, with two friends attending and another snapping pictures, Liz and Elijah made beautiful promises of love and loyalty to each other overlooking the downtown skyline.

Folks, making dreams come true is the reason I do this job.

Senior Commitment Ceremony Rings

Mazel Tov Jewish Ceremony Tip

The final step in a Jewish wedding ceremony is the traditional stomping of the glass. The last thing you want on your special day is a trip to the ER so to safely perform this step place a light bulb in a tightly tied cloth bag instead of using a piece of glassware. The result… large glass shards, no flying splinters, guaranteed breakage and best of all….no pesky bleeding.

Jewish Wedding Ceremony Glass Breaking

The Haskell Building – Wedding Venue Spotlight

Wedding ceremonies at the Haskell Building in downtown Jacksonville, FL (Duval County) located directly on the St. John’s river are always fun to do. The location is spectacular and it’s the only venue directly on the riverbank; it has the best view of Jacksonville from this perspective. With a gorgeous arch outside and a fabulous deco inspired setting inside, you couldn’t ask for a more lovely location to take your vows.

The extremely capable Karen Fritts runs the RiverFront Cafe which is the event arm for the facility and is just delightful to work with. A true pro, she oversees the management of your event leaving you to focus on more important things (like getting beautified.) For contact details, scroll down below the pictures (and make sure you let them know you found them here at That Wedding Lady.)

Haskell Building Arch

Haskell Building Arch – Myra and Jason

Haskell Building Fountain

Haskell Building Fountain in Downtown Jacksonville, FL on Riverside Drive.

Haskell Building

Jacksonville’s The Haskell Building

The Haskell Building
RiverFront Cafe & Catering
111 Riverside Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Karen Fritts, Catering Manager


That Wedding Lady
Jacksonville, FL – St. Augustine, FL – Amelia Island, FL

Beach Wedding Tips from a Pro

This is an article for best practices when planning a beach wedding containing expert tips from a wedding officiant professional in Jacksonville, FL who has done countless beach ceremonies.

Imagining the perfect wedding set along the romantic shores of a beach?
What we see in our minds can be very different than the reality of the day.

beach wedding ceremony floridaWeather – You absolutely, positively must have a rain backup. It might not be a rainy day but bad wind can be just as miserable. Do you really want to take your vows with a mouthful of hair and Auntie Matilda’s best Sunday bonnet carried off on the wind? It is essential to have a backup plan that you can execute quickly and cleanly if you decide to change the location at the last moment. The day of the ceremony don’t just check the weather for rain; make sure the wind is within your acceptable range. If it’s a 15 MPH wind with gusts up to 19 MPH, that is incredibly windy down at the beach. Everything (and I mean everything) will fly away.

  1. Sound – this is a big issue for beach weddings. Between the wind (even on regular, not especially windy days) and the constant thrumming of the waves breaking on the shore usually means spoken words are darn near impossible to hear. Tiny weddings of 10 folks or less are fine. Everyone can gather around. Anything more than that, get a sound guy to come “mike” the ceremony. Usually DJs can provide this as a part of their service to you but there are also providers who will come take care of this as a standalone service.
  2. Flower girls – it is a big no-no here in Florida to throw things down on the beach including paper or fabric flowers (too non-biodegradable), real flowers or flower petals (covered in pesticides) or other items that don’t biodegrade rapidly. Here’s a novel concept…you’re at the beach….have her throw seashells. It will establish you as an eco-friendly bride and a cool trendsetter. DON’T THROW BIRDSEED, RICE OR OTHER TYPES OF FOOD….unless you are particularly fond of bird poo as you will attract every shore bird within a mile of the ceremony.
  3. Decorations – If you put them up, secure them super duper well. It’s windy. Everything wants to blow away. It’s a real bummer when shore patrol interrupts your ceremony to give you a ticket because all your purple and teal streamers are now littered along the beach. NEVER EVER PERFORM A BALLOON RELEASE! It is totally verboten now in Florida because it’s incredibly damaging to the ocean and its creatures when they burst and fall into the water.
  4. The permit issue – okay here’s the deal. I’ve done weddings of up to 60 people (with chairs, arches, decorations…the whole shebang) and I’ve never had a problem with shore patrol coming to see if we had a permit. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen but with dozens of beach weddings under my belt, it hasn’t happened yet. However, I have had clients tell me that when they mentioned getting married on the beach while at the courthouse getting the license, the courthouse people sternly tell you to get the license.  My take on the subject is this. If I were having a small(ish) wedding on the beach, personally I wouldn’t sweat it. If I thought 50 people were going to show up and I wanted all the bells and whistles (chairs, decorations, arch, etc.,) I’d paid the $50 or whatever to get the permit. After all the hard work, why risk having your ceremony interrupted by Baywatch on his ATV stopping by in the middle of your ceremony to write you a ticket?

Hopefully this information proves helpful for you in planning your beach wedding. If you have any great tips on this subject to share, please email them to me so I can update this entry.

-That Wedding Lady, April 25, 2013

Jacksonville Business Journal Interview with That Wedding Lady

Gay wedding provider, That Wedding Lady shares thoughts with the Jacksonville Business Journal on January 6, 2015 as she weds Duval County’s first same sex couple on the first day gay weddings become legal in Florida. TWL married two men on the steps of Duval County’s main branch.

Click the link to read the article or download the pdf.

Gay Marriage Legal- Jacksonville Business Journal