Location, location, location is a real estate maxim that emphasises the importance of position. Some of these considerations in that regard are immediate surroundings, aspect (which direction one is facing), and the surrounding services.
Let us now look at these considerations that are emphasised as so important in real estate and approach it with a view to seeing similar benefits, or otherwise, and their relationship to a wedding ceremony. I think we can agree that in a civil ceremony the main focus should be on the couple tying the knot. In a church / clerical wedding this is often not the case. Any performer of experience will tell you to “pull focus” locate yourself centre stage and do most of the talking. When it comes to church weddings, this drawing of focus is made even worse when the actual couple are often kneeing and have their backs to the guests; with the cleric not only central, but often elevated. And depending on the denomination and grandeur of the occasion, the cleric, will often be attired in finery that would rival many a wedding gown.
Traditions and changing times. When you visit a church of old, most often you will find either, to the left or right of centre, a lectern or pulpit of some type. Traditionally this is where the cleric would (with the exception of wedding ceremonies) be speaking from. This positioning is also replicated at nearly every corporate presentation where the importance of what is happening centrally cannot be compromised.
Why then is it that many celebrants follow the doctrine of the cleric and position themselves centrally (during a wedding ceremony). Many times it is simply a lack of imagination and not having a firm understanding of staging.
So what is the alternative. There are many reasons to have your celebrant to one side.
1/ As 90-95% of what is being said by the officiant is addressed to the guests; positioning them where they can be seen and heard, without the necessity of having to speak through or over the couple is simply logical.
2/ For photos and video and general clarity of vision, having the couple centrally located where they are uncluttered by others, gives all the imagery professionals a clear and likewise uncluttered end product.
3/ Not having the celebrant between the couple allows them to be side-by-side, holding hands, able to chat (quietly) to each other, without a third-wheel in close proximity.
4/ It allows any readers a place / space, where they can present, and do so from what has already been established as a presentational locale.
5/ Audio equipment is somewhat simplified when one location is established. Obviously wireless technology is the preferred option, as this allows movement-flexibility and visual clarity as it avoids the leads, cords and other cumbersome apparatus that can spoil the look and feel of photos and video.
6/ One other aspect of positioning, not directly related to the celebrant, but equally important is the location of parents in relation to their son or daughter. This is an often overlooked, or misunderstood consideration. Most often the parents are sat on the same side, be it left or right, as their son or daughter. What this means is that for the majority of the ceremony, and in particular, the exchange of vows, the parents are looking at a profile, if not the back of the bride or grooms head. This can be avoided by having the parents seated so that they can get a clear and uninterrupted view of either their son or daughter.
So what does this all mean. When looking to engage the services of a celebrant, ask a few simple questions regarding their positioning in relation to yourselves, and ask why! Nothing about a wedding ceremony, besides legal requirements, should ever be considered set-in-stone. Your officiant should be willing and able to explain the rationale behind every decision and how it improves, rather than detracts, from the overall look and feel of your ceremony and your wedding day. If they cannot explain themselves and their thought processes, then keep looking… and call me.
As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding any aspect of the above, or your wedding ceremony, I would be delighted to hear from you.