Hey! It’s Dean! I really appreciate you coming to my blog posts. I have had the pleasure of performing weddings since 1996. Over the years I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and marrying couples from every walk of life. I have been present at simple weddings that cost little to nothing, to extravagant celebrations where no expense was spared. During that time I have made many incredible memories and made more than a “few” interesting observations. In this post, I wanted to share thoughts based upon two decades of experience that I hope will be helpful nuggets of wisdom as you plan for your Big Day. 


  1. January thru December are fantastic months to get married.
  2. Winter months, November – February weddings are becoming increasingly popular. Why? We don’t have winters in CA anymore. 
  3. 95% of all weddings I officiate are outdoors.
  4. The average wedding has around 100 guests.
  5. 2o years ago, an average wedding had around 150 guests.
  6. If an invitee does not RSVP on time, call them.
  7. It’s okay to make it clear on your invitation that your wedding is for adults ONLY.
  8. Most couples I marry have been together more than four years.
  9. I am amazed at how many couples knew each other in middle or high school.
  10. The bride is nervous in the days leading up to the wedding.
  11. The groom is nervous the day of the wedding.
  12. Weddings cost money and planning one is an emotional process. Expect cheers and tears.
  13. During the planning stage, don’t make hasty decisions.
  14. When spending money for the wedding, step back and ask, “What is the wisest decision we can make?”
  15. There are no rules for YOUR wedding. Do whatever you want. It is YOUR wedding.
  16. Most brides tell me they tried on four dresses or less before they found the perfect ONE.
  17. Bridesmaids appreciate buying a dress they can wear more than once.
  18. If the forecast calls for heat, hankerchiefs for the bridal party come in handy.
  19. Stay hydrated. 
  20. I am amazed at how many two year-old Flower girls and Rings Bearers make it down the aisle.
  21. There is no rule that you must have an EVEN number of bridesmaids and groomsmen in your bridal party.
  22. Couples getting married in their 20s are increasingly infrequent.
  23. Couples I marry are typically settled in their careers and have a dog.
  24. Couples who get married in their 50s and 60s are so thankful.
  25. Get off your feet for a half an hour just prior to the ceremony.
  26. You’ll be on your feet for almost five hours once the wedding begins.
  27. Ask a “YES” (positive) person to be close to you on your wedding day to take care of the little things.
  28. Starting your ceremony 15 minutes late is acceptable. 30 minutes is rude.
  29. A reading during the ceremony should not last more than a minute or two. 
  30. If things don’t go perfectly, who cares? Perfection should not be expected. But excellence from your team is required.
  31. Your wedding ceremony does not have to be long and boring. It can be fun, meaningful and engaging.
  32. Don’t hire an officiant who uses scripts. That’s lazy.
  33. A wireless handheld microphone is ideal for the officiant. 
  34. Hire an officiant who is real, authentic, engaging, calm, and encouraging.
  35. An experienced officiant will move out of the shot during the kiss.
  36. Asking mom and dad to walk the groom down the aisle is heartwarming. 
  37. The biggest bridal party I have ever seen were 12 on each side. 
  38. Wanted: bilingual officiants.  
  39. A good officiant will make a sincere effort to get to know the bride and groom so he or she can personalize the ceremony.
  40. A great ceremony should be a direct reflection of the personalities of the bride and groom.
  41. If you can’t plan a ceremony that is 25 minutes or less, go back and try again.
  42. Appropriate humor makes for great ceremony.
  43. Couples are writing their own vows.
  44. An officiant does not need to be present at the rehearsal. Why? He or she is first to walk up and last to leave. 
  45. A vail covering the face of the bride is out. 
  46. Include the children in a blended family ceremony.
  47. The Best Man usually holds the rings during the wedding.  
  48. Growing trend is to serve a simple cocktail menu prior to the ceremony.
  49. Tell the caterer you would like to be served drinks and appetizers during post-ceremony photos.
  50. Make sure you check out private estates or large homes as a possibility for your wedding venue.
  51. Venues that have been built specifically to hold weddings are extremely popular. Book well in advance.
  52. If you choose a venue where you can buy your own bar and hire a bartender, you will save a lot of money.
  53. Hiring a Wedding Coordinator may stretch the budget, but it is money well spent
  54. Backyard weddings are a great idea.
  55. Backyard weddings are a lot of work.
  56. If you have a backyard wedding, think about hiring a Wedding Coordinator.
  57. Don’t try to nickel and dime a vendor who has a great reputation.  
  58. Experienced vendors with great reviews are worth the money. You get what you pay for.
  59. A professional vendor will follow up expediently.
  60. The best vendors are usually booked six months in advance. Don’t delay. 
  61. Every well-regarded vendor who works in the wedding world is keenly aware they cannot have a bad day. That’s what sets them apart.
  62. Tipping your vendors in not required but very much appreciated.
  63. Ask every vendor and venue, “Are their any additional costs we might incur?”
  64. 20 years ago there was one photographer shooting the wedding – today there are at least two.
  65. Take as many photos as possible before the wedding. Allow one hour for photos after the wedding – MAX.
  66. A really good photographer has a shot sheet.
  67. Cash for a wedding gift is in. Ask for it.
  68. Extensive gift registries are not as popular as they used to be.
  69. You do not have to apply for a wedding license in the county in which you are getting married.
  70. On your wedding day, don’t forget to bring your wedding license.
  71. You do not automatically receive a copy of your wedding license after your wedding. You must pay for one.
  72. The rings go on the left hand.
  73. Gold wedding bands for him are out.
  74. Platinum or darker colored weddings bands for him are in.
  75. Most brides leave their engagement ring on during the ceremony. 
  76. The most popular suit color for him is blue. His shoes are brown.
  77. Bow Ties are in.
  78. Something I rarely see: Tux and tails.
  79. Wear comfortable shoes. It is best to feel AND look good. 
  80. Fashionable sandals for bridesmaids during the summer are in. 
  81. Unity sand is not as popular as it used to be.
  82. Unity candles at an outdoor wedding are bad idea.
  83. Make sure you have great sound for your ceremony.
  84. A Professional DJ makes the difference between a good reception and a great reception.
  85. Your good friend is usually not the best choice for a DJ.
  86. Cigar rollers during the reception are becoming increasingly popular.
  87. Cupcakes as the wedding cake are a great idea, economical, and delicious.
  88. Seared ahi tuna is my favorite appetizer.
  89. Mini Meatballs are timeless.
  90. Taco trucks are in.
  91. BBQ is in.
  92. Have a glass or two . . . but don’t drink too much before the ceremony.
  93. Two bartenders are better then one.
  94. If you choose to have a bar, be generous and host it.
  95. Blended families should all “make nice” on your wedding day.
  96. A dad thinks about his daughter’s wedding day about 25 years before she actually gets married. 
  97. Giving away his daughter is a really big deal for dad. Tell him you love him.
  98. It’s hard for a mom not to cry when she sees her “baby” in her wedding dress. Tell her you love her.
  99. Your wedding day is a long time in planning, but the BIG day goes by like a blur.
  100. When it comes to love . . . When you find the One, don’t get restless and go looking for another ONE.
  101. Keep the vows you make on your wedding day as precious and trustworthy. This world needs to see examples of couples who make it for a lifetime.  

About Dean

Dean Merrill brings 22 years of experience as a wedding officiant in Southern California. His creative and professional approach to performing weddings comes from a unique blending of talents he utilizes in every ceremony in which he officiates. He is currently the preferred wedding officiant for Southern California’s #1 rated wedding coordinator, Bella Vita Events.