I can’t wait to share my interview with Atonn Smeltzer, owner of Weddings for the Ages, with you! Atonn is an amazing human and loves crafting well-written and professional wedding officiating ceremonies for ALL couples. If you want a traditional ceremony or something totally themed, like a Legend of Zelda wedding, Atonn and the team at Weddings for the Ages are your kinds of people!
Tell us about Weddings for the Ages
We are a professional wedding officiating service – we legally marry people! We believe that all loving couples have the right to get married, regardless of gender, color, faith, or ability. We want their special day to be meaningful, personal, and everything they ever wanted. We teach and guide couples into making their own informed choices about their ceremony; we coach them in writing their own vows, and in how and when to apply for the marriage license.
Why did you get into weddings?
I was asked by a dear friend to officiate a make-believe ceremony for her family, as she planned to get married in the courthouse. Since the couple was so special to me, I decided that I wanted to make it really special for them, and got licensed to be the one to legally married them! From there, pictures got leaked to social media, a few more wedding requests came in, and now (300 weddings later) the rest is history!
What are some common questions you get asked by couples?
The most frequent questions we get tend to be centered around applying for the marriage license – when, where, and how to do it. The other ones we hear often usually start off like: “we’ve never done this before, haha! What should the ceremony be like?” – at which point we always say “well, you both have to say ‘I do’, but everything else is up to you!” And then we talk through the different options and ideas with them.
What do you wish people knew about Weddings for the Ages?
All of the options and control that they have. We don’t dictate anything other than “you have to say I DO” – our couples get to choose everything else, with guidance if they ever have questions. Choices like how much (or how little) religion to include, the tone they want to set (serious, sentimental, funny), length, content, and so much more!
What makes you unique in this wedding space?
Sadly, some officiants still refuse to marry couples based on gender, race, or faith. We believe that love is beautifully diverse and inclusive, and we are committed to celebrating love in all of its different expressions; all genders, all colors, all abilities, all cultures, all faiths, vow renewals, poly ceremonies, elopements, we celebrate it all!
Another real difference is that we are storytellers; we take the time to get to know each couple, learn their love story, find out what is unique about them, and then use everything we have learned to make the ceremony deeply personal, a one-of-a-kind celebration of their love!
And on the boring business side (haha), we are professionally licensed, legally registered, carry event liability insurance, and we always take care of filing the marriage license for the couple so that they don’t have to!
How far in advance should a couple book you for their event?
Usually about 6 to 9 months out from the wedding date, but we’ve had bookings as far out as 2 years, and we’ve had same-day calls for elopements!
What’s an average amount a couple can expect to spend with you?
We are VERY transparent on our fees! We publish our current fee sheet right on our website. For ceremonies with 10 or more guests, fees start at $225 for a very simple setting, less than 10 minutes.
Our most popular option, which about 90% of couples choose is our Classic ceremony at $400, which includes everything that folks expect to see at a wedding – readings, recognition of the family, a unity feature, all customized to the couple.
And our Premiere package runs $750 – this is for couples that are planning a very specific theme that requires a lot of extra research and planning for the officiant (themes we have done include Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, the Legend of Zelda, and more!)
What advice do you have for a couple looking for someone like you?
The wedding day is a very emotion-filled day, and even though we know that people are often looking forward to the reception more than anything else, the ceremony is definitely the emotional climax – pledging your commitment to your spouse in front of your loved ones, maybe reading personally written vows. It’s going to be intense.
The officiant is the person that is going to guide everyone – you, your fiance, your guests – through that emotional minefield, so you want to have confidence in the person you choose for that job. You don’t want someone who’s going to bore your guests to sleep or be making inappropriate jokes on the microphone. You want a confident and engaging public speaker, who knows what to say and how to say it and is ready to react and respond to anything that might happen. You don’t want to stand up there, baring your soul to your beloved, fearing and wondering what the officiant is going to do.
How can a couple get ahold of you for more information?
The absolute best method is emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but couples can text our number (419-318-9213), message our Facebook page, or contact us on the major wedding planning sites, and we’ll get back to them as soon as possible!