Mark Stenabaugh is an actor, television personality, host and one of the most fabulous wedding officiants you will ever have grace your special day. 

But what’s a wedding officiant you ask? According to Stenabaugh, “I actually don’t think that most couples being married understand the role or importance of the officiant at their ceremony. I like to refer the position as being the ringmaster at a circus. The officiant is sort of in the ‘centre ring’ if you will but stepped back from the actual show… the role is to ensure that the ceremony incorporates readings, vows and any cultural traditions that the couple feel comfortable with.”

While Mark’s role is to keep the ceremony flowing without incident, that only works when the wedding couple heed the advice of the ringmaster. Mark recalls a ceremony where a couple choose novelty over practicality, “Any officiant will tell you that the ring bearer should never be a child or animal… this is a job left for the best man or other adult. At one wedding the couples dog was dressed in a tuxedo with a bucket tied around its neck containing the real wedding rings. The dog, although well trained, did not take to the large audience or being dressed up and bolted during the ceremony. Not only did the dog run but so did the wedding rings. The wedding party scattered in search of the missing rings which delayed the wedding for almost forty minutes!”

Often there’s so much energy and time spent on the shower, stag/stagettes, colour schemes, and reception, the ceremony can take a back seat. According to Mark, “I have actually had couples meet me and tell me ‘do what I want with the ceremony. Just keep it short and sweet. We just want to get on with the party.’ That attitude sadness me because the whole day and celebrations should surround and enhance the actual solemnization of the vows. I like to refer to the wedding ceremony as the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the wedding day and all the other stuff as the ‘gravy’. Like in any good meal everything should be enjoyed.”

Check back for more Confessions of a Wedding Officiant. You can reach Mark here or see him in the upcoming movie Hamlet In A Hot Tub this fall.

About the Author

Raymond Helkio is an author, director and award-winning filmmaker. As a graduate from the Ontario College of Art & Design he cofounded The Reading Salon and is a Canadian Ambassador for the Moral Courage Project. Find him on Facebook.