It’s Wedding Pro Wednesday! A day to highlight the wedding professionals that have made a career out of helping engaged couples create their dream day. Who better to share expertise and advice for brides-to-be and newlywed couples? Today I am excited to introduce you to Laura C. Cannon, the founder of Ceremony Officiants™ is ranked the #1 wedding officiant company in the United States with more than a decade of experience creating beautiful, personalized ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds. Her diverse and friendly team of experienced professional officiants has performed over 3,000 weddings and maintains a perfect 5.0 average for reviews on WeddingWire and theKnot. In 2013 Laura launched a sister company, DC Elopements, which specializes in stress-free, simple elopements and mini-weddings in the Washington, D.C. area.
So, if you’re trying to decide on a wedding officiant or are curious what a career in “marriage” might be like… don’t miss Laura’s answers below!
Have you always been a wedding professional? If not, what was your previous career?
I was not always a wedding professional, but almost! The first company I started while still in college was an event planning company and weddings were certainly part of the mix. I sold that business and went on a spiritual journey that lead me to becoming ordained as a non-denominational minister. I always had the heart of an entrepreneur and was fortunate to grow up with two entrepreneurial parents. But having gone to college with the thought of having a typical 9-5 career, I decided that I had to travel down that path to have that experience. I worked in higher education in a salaried position and stayed there while I continued to officiate weddings and preside over funerals on the side. Eventually I decided to make the leap into working full-time in the wedding industry. I grew from solopreneur to a team of wedding officiants that now covers several states, has spawned several other companies, including the formation of the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants.
What inspired you to create your company?
I was inspired to create my company when a student of mine who knew I was ordained asked if I would perform her wedding ceremony. While doing her wedding I had what Oprah calls an “Aha” moment where everything became clear. I knew I was meant to do another wedding and that it was the perfect use of a variety of skills I had been honing for years. That first year I did a handful of weddings just from referrals. The business continued to grow and then I decided to bring on my first associate officiant. It’s now been almost 15 years and we’ve performed thousands of weddings!
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
While I am thankful for the fact that I did not experience and “failures” in my business, there were certainly challenges. I think as an entrepreneur starting out in a new industry the biggest hurdle to cross is dealing with the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. Everything is new. I had the challenges of learning a business and the industry it was inextricably a part of all at the same time.
What do you love most about your job?
I LOVE LOVE. Seriously. Having the opportunity to bear witness to two people in love make a sacred commitment to each other is the greatest joy of my life. People ask me all the time, “Now that you are an author and a speaker and run all these businesses are you going to stop officiating weddings?” No way! There is a Sanskrit word, mudita, which means the joy derived from the joy of others. It is my favorite kind of joy and I get to experience mudita every time I officiate. It doesn’t get better than that.
What is your best advice for brides related to your area of expertise?
My #1 piece of advice for brides is to plan for your married life, not just a wedding. The wedding is one day. Yes, it is an amazing extra-special day, but ultimately it is really just the first day of your married life. We spend so much time planning for this event and we forget to put just as much emphasis on planning for a great partnership with our spouse. Spend some of your time considering what your married life will be like: What do you each need to do to contribute meaningfully to your relationship? How will you best support each other as life inevitably changes?
What is your best advice for newlyweds?
COMMUNICATE. We often have different styles of communication and the way one person expresses love may not be the way the other person receives love. We have to learn how to explicitly communicate with our partner. Your partner is NOT a mind reader and yet sometimes when we are in relationship with someone for a long time we start to assume they should “just know” when something is wrong. No, they shouldn’t. It is up to each of you to be responsible for communicating your own desires and needs explicitly. Couples who communicate explicitly and frequently have deeper intimacy than those who don’t. And that deep intimacy with another human being is the true gift of marriage.