I pride myself on my dark and twisted sense of humour. I also think that no matter what feedback the "pays the same" this is especially true at weddings. With the nuclear family having been made into the real weapon of mass destruction a lot of people are opting for alternatives to traditional marriage. People my age have given far too much money to lawyers and you can only get married in some religions once. It's good business for me and my secular commissioner colleagues since non-secular church weddings often involve regularly attending church before hand and this does not seem to be quite as popular as it used to be.
There is an advantage to a church wedding however; seldom does anyone get all grumpy with the priest or rabbi about how the service is to be conducted. Normally the priest is using some hour hundred year old sacramental ritual that doesn't have a lot of flexibility, so you know what you are getting. There is a lot of sign of the cross making: spectacles, testicles, watch and wallet. Some Latin: my father plays dominos better than your father (say that out loud real fast, you'll get it) and icon worship that nobody really understands anymore. But all in all it's peaceful, lovely and pipe organs kick ass.
When getting married in an alternative venue, be it a community hall, an old barn or on the veranda of the Magrath Mansion, which is just down the street from my house. Often a new dynamic kicks it and it is: Momzilla.
This needs further definition: usually, but not always, Momzilla is the mother of the groom, she has really nothing to do on her sons wedding day, whereas the brides Mom is busy with pins and curling irons and generally fussing over her little girl. Worse, for a lot of groom Mom's she is divorced, somewhat bitter, single and the grooms Dad shows up with a date who is younger, hotter and despised by everyone. In extreme cases Dads date will look like she was selected off a foreign wives website, because, often this is true.
In one notable example; the date was smoking hot and just off the plane from Russia. It was obvious she already had her sights on something better than Dad. She was working the room. The grooms Mom was a very nice lady who had strong opinions after her third glass of wine.
The person who gets to tame these circus lionesses, is of course, the marriage commissioner aka me. I have had many a groom mom offer me suggestions at the last minute, as her son is busy doing vodka shots with the groomsmen and there isn't really anyone else for her to talk to. I've had them change the script, which I promptly ignored, or suggest that the sunlight will be in the brides eyes and maybe we should rethink where everyone stands I nod my head and I promptly ignore.
Mother of the bride is only ever a huge problem if she is someone of wealth and feels that in paying for this event she should get a major role in how it comes together. I have had Momzilla's attend the pre-meeting, the rehearsal and of course the ceremony. Often there are several pre-meetings and much fussing about what colour of tie I will wear. My new policy is if you are getting married in a venue that charges $1,000.00 or more just for the space, I'm not your guy, I only own four ties, A Guggenheim and three Gerry Garcia's. I also don't wear a tux.
Momzilla may not realize she is overcompensating, sometimes she just wants a simple and perfect day for her kids and other times she is so crazed with trivial details that she needs to find someone's balls to break, she's been doing it to Dad for a long time and he's already into the scotch.
Sometimes though it is very good: recently I had an nice experience with a Mom, the kids had a little girl three weeks old and Mom wanted to be at the front with me, so I cut her into the program and let her say the non-legal bits while she held her first grandbaby. She was happy, which worked out all around.
This is an interesting ethical dilemma: lots of Moms are my age, single, attractive and professional standards are a bit of a grey area. But like they say, if I have to have a problem, this is the one to have.
How to avoid all this drama:
1) It's your wedding do what you want. I did a biker wedding where everyone wore their colours including the bride and groom. I have also performed house weddings where the TV was on, of this I am not proud.
2) Figure out how to deal with Dad and his child bride from Thailand ahead of time, like maybe just elope, or tell him to leave her at home. He will get it.
3) Give the commissioner a heads up if you know of some unmanaged family dynamic and is likely to rear it's head.
4) Nobody can stop your wedding: When I ask the question if anyone knows a reason why you can't be married, the list is pretty short; not getting married in your parents church is not one of them. I have on occasion, spoken to Mom and Dadzilla and asked if is this is how they want their daughter to remember her wedding day? I am like a baseball umpire on this one, it ain't nothing till I say it's something and you can't argue with the ump. So don't sweat it we know the rules.
5) If you are on a budget, buy your rings at a pawn shop, come over to my house with two witnesses and we'll do it right here in front of the fireplace.
6) Unlike priests, the commissioner generally does not attend the reception, I may have a glass of wine at a house wedding, but the expected standard is to perform the service, get paid and go.
Being a marriage commissioner is a lot of fun, since I also do house inspections, I had one couple that I married call me for the inspection, she was pregnant and asked if I was a Doula too? Fortunately she was kidding. They had a good simple wedding, bought a good simple house and had a nice baby. A great way to start life together.
Second marriages are generally a lot simpler, most because everyone is older and has a "been there done that" attitude, which can make for an awesome party.