When You Hire Another Officiant That Doesn’t Show Up, My Emergency Officiant Fees Come Into Play & Why I Have Them…

My twin sister has said so this so many times-and it’s true “without you it’s just a big party!”  She’s right a wedding without an officiant isn’t a wedding-it’s a very expensive party with friends and family.

When my phone rings on a Friday, it’s generally to request an Officiant on a Saturday or Sunday because “our Officiant bailed and we need someone we know will show up!”  Well, a little tip for couples would be to hire someone you can count on in the first place.  You’ve carefully planned and spent thousands of dollars on a Life Event so plan accordingly when choosing an Officiant.  In all of our years of operating an events business, we have never been late to an event or missed a scheduled event either.  

Running to “save the day” and cover for a stranger who backed out because they realized the couple was LBGT or interracial or even BOTH is a stressful task!  I haven’t met the couple, I have no idea who is giving the bride away or what type of ceremony they want and on the first three occasions that I’ve “run to the rescue” I’ve been stiffed because the officiant they had hired had already been paid.  It’s not my problem that others have hired an unreliable officiant but today will mark my 29th time to “saddle up” and save the day! 

Arriving to save the day and having to argue to get paid for my contribution is the most miserable situation that I have ever been forced to endure.  But, it’s happened.  We all remember the “Feragne Villa Incident.”  The clients had purchased a “package” that included the officiant.  The couple had met with the officiant on at least two occasions so obviously the officiant knew they were an LBGT couple!  John Spivey called to tell me about a couple who had no idea their officiant was planning to pretend to be on vacation and, within a day I was at Feragne Villa conducting the rehearsal and wondering who would pay me for dropping everything to cover the homophobic idiot who didn’t bother to show up and ironically, who had already been paid!  

I’m going to put this out there to couples thinking that “buying a package” for your wedding is a good deal and advise you that unless you have met the officiant and are comfortable with them, you should grab a pen and take the officiant out of the contract!  Find your own.

I’m the ONLY LBGT officiant on staff at BellTower Chapel because none of the other officiants will perform an LBGT ceremony.  Their bios don’t say they are LBGT friendly because they aren’t.

I’ve learned the hard way that having a soft heart has never enhanced my bank account.  After over a week of fighting with Feragne Villa to get paid, I sent a Letter of Intent to File Suit for Theft of Services and FINALLY recieved half my fees and NO EMERGENCY OFFICIANT FEES for my contribution at the rehearsal AND wedding ceremonies at Feragne Villa.

I had to stop feeling sorry for everyone who failed to realize that it was THEIR emergency and not mine.  Putting my heart aside and acting like a businesswoman- I advised my website manager to include Holiday AND Emergency Officiant Fees.  

To this day, I still make exceptions based on the situation and today I waived the fee after hearing what had happened.  The groom calling me explained that they had paid another officiant last week and Monday the other officiant wanted a “few more details” that included “are you gay? Interracial? Or have an alternative lifestyle that I should be aware of?”  I can’t believe this happens to people but it does.  Upon realizing this wedding wouldn’t be “traditional” or at a venue or with a man and woman-the officiant backed out.    

The fact was that the groom was not only LBGT but also marrying another race AND at a Prison!!!!  Due to the discrimination the groom faced–I waived my fee and gave him my year round discounted LBGT fee instead.  I’m also going to help him write a demand letter for Breach Of Contract to the No-Show Officiant he paid over a week ago.  Very few Officiants in Texas are authorized to conduct a wedding in a prison and I am one of them.  If you are marrying an inmate, you have very few authorized Officiants to choose from and it’s essential that whoever you hire shows up on time and prepared to officiate.  If they aren’t an approved TDCJ Officiant, then you have a very big problem because they will not be allowed inside the unit. 

I don’t live my life in a “grey area” and I don’t conduct my businesses differently from one client to the next either- everyone is treated equally by me and my staff. Often clients coming to me who were treated badly by other vendors benefit from us far more than they would have from the No Show Folks because we care about what they’ve been through and want to make it right.  I was so upset the poor groom had experienced an officiant backing out “because he was different,” that yesterday I stopped everything to write this blog and blow my narrow minded competitors out of the water-Wendy Wortham Explains Why Some Vendors Discriminate.

Four years ago, I literally ran from my home to cover a church wedding with over 200 guests waiting after answering a phone call from the frantic mother who couldn’t get ahold of “their officiant” and had guests waiting.  These types of “emergency calls” are my least favorite because I’m going in cold and unprepared and also because the wedding party will be flipping out and make my job far harder. Trying to get paid after “running to the rescue?”  Impossible!

My twin sister (as usual) came up with a #Cindyism Quote to “sum up” these types of situations “Even if you step in old shit–it still stinks!”  She was right.  Cleaning up somebody else’s mess can be a literal “dirty job” for the poor bastard taking on the task.
Today as I walk back in to Estes Unit in Venus, Texas where I was last week, I will not be claustrophobic or worried about stuttering because I’m nervous.  Misty walked in with me on my first visit to a prison for her wedding at a prison and like today’s groom-we went through the process together.  It’s a “first”for many who marry a prisoner.  The truth is that many who are incarcerated and find love become upright citizens when they have a family waiting for them on the outside.

I befriended Misty when others had turned her away.  My team and I rallied around her and treated her like the beautiful person she is that other vendors had refused to see…

Wendy M Wortham