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  • Writer's pictureDonna Jean Nethery

Your Wedding; Your Way!

I just performed a New Year’s Eve at midnight ceremony… let me tell you their story!

I was contacted by them just a few weeks ago and we talked about the type of ceremony they wanted. As I asked my usual questions for all couples a bit more information continued to bubble up and let me tell you, I was nervous.

  • · First they wanted a New Year’s Day ceremony, this in itself was a normal request. But they want a midnight ceremony… ok, we can do this!

  • · Secondly, they want the ceremony to ‘start’ a bit before midnight so they could be pronounced ‘married’ just as the ball drops… ok, this one will take a bit of planning; timing my ceremony, etc… but again, we can do this!

  • · Third request was this ceremony was to be outside, whoa now! We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and we can have harsh winters, so I knew the temps outside could be in single digits with a wind chill of below zero… I own Carhartt outerwear, so ok, we can do this!

  • · Fourth item that came up was location; they don’t have a location picked out but are going to walk around downtown Marquette and choose a spot a few hours before the ceremony is to start… yikes, what about the crowds that are there to watch the ball drop, are there going to be open locations, is it going to be too loud, too rambunctious… with all these variables, that’s ok, we can do this!

  • · Lastly, they have no witnesses!! Their plan is to just pull a couple of complete strangers out of the crowd to serve as their witnesses, wait a minute, what?

Needless to say, as an officiant, your dream is to have their dream come true. My nerves were a tangled mess thinking their dream was going to be hard to achieve. But again, as an officiant, you do whatever it takes to make their dream a reality and try to plan ahead for any uh-oh’s that may arise… and there were plenty of uh-oh’s that could take place with all these different variables we’re trying to accomplish in a very short time frame.

So on my end this is what I did:

  • · First: I planned ahead, booked a hotel in the area of the ceremony and planned a calm day that included enough time for this old gal to take a nap in order to actually be awake as well as be bright-eyed for the midnight ceremony.

  • · Second: I wrote a sweet ceremony that included a touch of Christian as was their wish. And I practiced, practiced, practiced the timing so we could get started at a specific time and know it would end right as the ball was dropping to mark 2022.

  • · Third: I rewrote my ceremony to make it a tad shorter, but still sweet once the 'outside venue' was discussed… I did not want frostbite to be on the list of things received as a gift for the wedding. And then I practiced, practiced, practiced again to get the timing down just right for the midnight pronouncement.

  • · Fourth: I told the couple to keep me posted on their location choices and we would meet at that location a few hours before the ceremony to plan it out, check for parking, etc. This worked out fine, they did choose a spot, but then changed it once they found a spot that was even better… and we just went for it. I packed some candles and lanterns to use for lighting in case the midnight darkness was a bit too much. I used these to ‘mark’ the ceremony area and it turned out beautiful.

  • · Fifth: The most worrisome part of this for me was the witnesses! What if they can’t find anyone, we can’t have a ceremony without witnesses… panic mode that bordered on hyperventilation took place on my part for a bit over this one… but guess what, they found a couple… an engaged couple that was thrilled to participate in this monumental event for people they didn’t even know. They made the plan to meet back at the chosen location a little before midnight. And we’re off…

Now to the ceremony itself; it was magically beautiful!!

They chose a spot on Lake Superior, in front of a bell tower. When I arrived, the couple and their witnesses were already there chatting it up and you’d never had guessed they only met an hour before.

We all shook hands and discussed the timing and the set-up. I fanned out my candles and lanterns and in this area, the crowd was not an issue. We all just talked and told stories until my ‘timing’ of the length of the ceremony told us we needed to start. The ceremony went off without a hitch, the timing was perfect; they kissed as the ball was dropping, and were pronounced within a few seconds after the start of the New Year.

Right after the ceremony was also magical… everyone thanked everyone else for such an unforgettable New Years Eve. The newlyweds had gifts for me and their witnesses, the stranger witnesses had a bottle of champagne for the newlyweds, I had a “Mr & Mrs, est 1/1/2022” sign I had made as a gift for the couple… handshakes, congratulations, and thank you’s were served up enthusiastically.

People coming together to make a special moment and new friendships bloom out of a crazy dream of pulling off a midnight wedding, in a unknown location, with strangers, and freezing temps.


My moral of this ‘Monday Musings’ is follow your heart to do what you want for your ceremony… it’s for you, the soon to be newlyweds and no one else. If it sounds a bit crazy to someone else, that’s ok if it’s what you want. If the cousin of your ex brother-in-law’s Aunt says ‘that won’t work’ or ‘you can’t do that’ and ‘don’t do that’, do it anyway!!! You and your betrothed are the only 2 that will forever celebrate this day, make it memorable, make it crazy if you want, just MAKE IT YOUR DREAM!

Donna Jean Nethery

Love, Laughter & Happily Ever-After

Harbor Town Weddings

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