CLASS OF 1976
An excited groom awaits his bride with his buddies by his side--all suited in their tuxedo best, shoes polished and without a speck.
Behind the ceremony's entrance, the brides' sisters, besties, flower girl all stunning in pastel and the ring bearer adorable in a pint-sized tuxedo and groomsmen's navy blue--anxiously await the bride's appearance and the coordinator's wedding march cue.
Impatient guests dressed in their wedding best fan meticulously designed programs, careful not to spill bubbles scheduled for the couple's retreat. They tap in new shoes already hurting their feet with a rhythm that matches their fidgeting in visually pretty, but uncomfortable organza-wrapped seats. They can't stop their heads from swiveling back and forth. Their eyes land on a watch or cell, only a few minutes later than before.
At the altar, gazebo, floral arch, chuppah, Ferris wheel seat...our Officiant Kate Baker waits with composure and grace--never confused or frazzled or missing a wedding beat. Her serenity pours into the marital space, and the wedding magic is at last ready to pick up its pace.
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to officiate a wedding?
Here's how Kate Baker, Class of 1976 jumped the wedding broom into the world of an ordained wedding minister. Ordained in 2009, she's now with the American Marriage Ministries, a non-denominational church that's Christian-based.
I customized the ceremony to what my clients want. I give them an outline of how the wedding will proceed, after I interview them and find out their needs and desires. I like to add a special touch to the ceremonies. I never want it to be a cookie-cutter. No two weddings are definitely not alike under my watch.
Some of my clients who want a bare-bones wedding travel to my house, where I may or may not change my clothes. But even this bare-bones wedding is unique to the couple.
You'll find my clients' weddings held at various locations--the beach, river, park, catering hall, country club, restaurant and an amusement park, etc., -- expensive and inexpensive venues.
What made you decide to become an ordained wedding officiant?
Initially, I wanted to be a wedding consultant until I realized what's involved in coordinating a wedding, and that my favorite part was the ceremony. I liked the idea of showing up for the ceremony and making it memorable, long after the champagne is uncorked, and the last rose petals tossed. I do public speaking anyway, so it was a natural next step. This was more my speed. I didn't want to cart boxes and oversee every detail of a wedding.
THE WEDDING FEVER HITS
It started when my two daughters got married. I experienced wedding consulting through my first daughter's wedding where I actually took over the planning. My daughter was working a lot. She didn't get to pick out her gown, and I also made the alterations. I even sewed her wedding party's dresses. She didn't see her gown until it was time to wear it. I regret taking that special gown experience away from her.
Second Daughter Puts on
My Wedding Brakes
My second daughter knew to put the wedding brakes on me. By that time, I realized I took the sparkle out of my first daughter’s wedding and didn't want that to happen again.
This time, I took more of a back seat approach, until she designed her wedding gown and asked me to sew it. Her gown was all hand-sewn. I put my daughter in a tee-shirt, wrapped her in duct tape, and then I ended up cutting up the back and stuffed it so I could have the form of her shape. Then, I began ruching the fabric. I used two gowns to make her one-of-a-kind wedding dress.
I love deconstructing gowns. It's what I do. I buy old-fashioned gowns bridal shops never sold and were never worn outside the store. They basically went out of style. The fabrics are so nice and they're from good places. I take them apart and that's the fabric I use to make a gown.
I almost gave up sewing her gown, because I couldn't get the fit right. I'd sew it, then put it on the hanger and it would look crooked. I did this over and over again, until I realized my daughter's body was the problem. My daughter was crooked. She had one hip higher than the other. So, I had to sew the gown crooked. On her special day, she wore a beautiful wedding gown she designed.
Next Stop...Ordained Wedding Minister
I officiated my first wedding for my friend, Jackie, a psychologist at the facility where I worked as a registered nurse. She knew I was ordained, but I didn't tell her I hadn't officiated any weddings yet.
I performed their ceremony on a beach. I don't do a typical wedding. I don't read out of a minister book. First, I ask questions...how did you meet? What do you like most about each other? What's your favorite thing to do as a couple? From their responses, I create a love story. I do the legal part and tell their love story. It has to be a ceremony very special and personal to the couple. I'm happy to say, my clients have complimented me on their ceremonies.
Meanwhile, at my First Ceremony,
A Beach Wedding...
My couple stayed at a house on the beach. I arrived at the beach before they did. They didn't have seats, so I made this big circle. It was really beautiful. All of the guests were able to see everything.
I learned how to talk against the wind, so that my voice carries. Afterwards, I said to my psychologist friend, Jackie:
Kate: This was my first wedding.
Jackie: I would've never known. It was absolutely perfect.
I'm often invited to the reception, but only attend if I know the couple. I don't want to be a guest. I want to be a vendor.
How many wedding ceremonies do you perform in a day?
No more than two. Since I live in Delaware, I perform weddings in Delaware, Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
My Most Fun Wedding
was High in the Sky
My most fun and unique wedding was on a Ferris Wheel in Ocean City, Maryland. And yes, this was during CoVid. There I was... officiating a wedding ceremony seated on a Ferris Wheel across from the bridal couple, next to their daughter, busy taking pictures from inside a Ferris Wheel car stopped high above the treetops. In Maryland, you don't need two witnesses. It was so beautiful and a little scary.
This was where the couple first met. When I pronounced them-- husband and wife--the bride let her veil fly out onto the beach. It was something they always wanted to do.
Initially, they asked if I was afraid of heights. I also had to ask the ride conductor if it was okay to stop our car at the top for the time we needed.
Fortunately, there were no mishaps, only a very emotionally symbolic ceremony. They didn't have any other guests. She wore a short dress with a small veil. I took their papers back to the car and gave them a copy and off they went to enjoy the rest of their wedding day.
The ceremony before the Ferris Wheel Wedding, was on a Maryland pier on a river, 20 miles from Ocean City. For this one, mishaps became unexpected guests. The strong wind arrived first. They were having trouble with their decorations. While helping them, my handkerchief dress kept flying up, until I tied it up like a package. But then, my wiglet almost flew off my head. That day, I needed my hair to not be in the water.
I ALWAYS WISH MY COUPLES
A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY...
I keep in touch with all of my couples. (All except for the Ferris Wheel couple. I never heard from them again.) I always wish them happy anniversary.
Nobody's been divorced. The one couple who were getting a divorce, but reconciled, got married in a barn. That's when a bug flew in my mouth and somehow, I still managed to keep on talking.
Going to the Chapel and I'm...
Going to Bring my Checkbook
Some officiants charge $1,000. I don't charge family members; it's my gift to them.
A regular ceremony where they come to my house, and I don't put a lot of work into it--$75. If I come to you within a 25-mile radius and it's a quick wedding ceremony with two witnesses
--$120, $25 for mileage is included.
A regular wedding starts at $250 with the rehearsal, an additional $100. My most expensive wedding is a full wedding: ceremony and rehearsal for $400. My fees are based on how much time is spent planning the ceremony, officiating it and the cost for gas. You have to get your license first. Everything has to be legal.
If you're not going to bring witnesses, then I have to round them up. My friend is a witness. She's going to become a partner soon. I'm currently teaching her the ropes, so she can back me up in case I get sick or have an emergency. I never want to leave my clients in a lurch. So far, I haven't had that problem.
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life
to start as soon as possible.”
– When Harry Met Sally