Tips from a Wedding Officiant with Maria Romano of True Love Knots – E103

Episode 103 - Wedding Tips from Maria Romano



Maria Romano of True Love Knots and Matthew Campbell of My Wedding Songs sit down and chat about wedding tips from the perspective of an officiant.

Show Notes:

  • Memorable Wedding Moments
  • Relieving Stress
  • About Maria Romano and True Love Knots
  • Officiating In Las Vegas
  • Incorporating Couple’s Story
  • Music Moments During the Ceremony
  • Unity Ceremonies
  • Instrumental vs Vocal Music
  • Custom Songs
  • Using AI
  • Popular Processional Songs
  • Traditional vs Modern Music
  • Live Musicians
  • A Unique Unity Ceremony
  • Hiring An Officiant Tips
  • Marrying in the Grand Canyon
  • Tip on Getting Married
  • Contacting Maria Romano and True Love Knots

Podcast Transcript

Welcome everybody to the Wedding Songs Podcast. I am Matt Campbell. Today we’re going to be talking about officiants and music during the wedding ceremony. To help me out today, I have Maria Romano from True Love Knots based here in Las Vegas.

Welcome to the show. Maria. Thank you so much, Matt. I am so excited to be here with you and your listeners. And I want to tell you something. I professionally crush on you because you are the epitome of professionalism just to shout out to you. Thank you. And, and I love your passion and your energy for your couples.

And that’s why I’m having you on the show today. Thank you. Well, you know what? We do need that passion and energy when you think about it. It’s a special day in their life. I’m going to start off with the question I always start off with every guest on the show.

Memorable Wedding Moments

Can you tell everybody a little bit about your most memorable wedding moment? I was thinking about what is my most memorable wedding moment. Cause I get asked that a lot and I’ve have several, but I have to share with you one. A wedding moment that really stuck out was when I had two women that I married over a Chapel of Flowers.

I think it was about a year ago. You’re in when they opened up the UK came back into the United States and they waited to get married. These two women met on a website for people who developed muscular dystrophy. Both of them had muscular dystrophy. One was more advanced and I will tell you she was struggling walking down the aisle and the other partner also had muscular dystrophy.

It was not as advanced. And I want to tell you that ceremony really touched me. Talk about loving somebody for their soul. And not their physical, because we always work on that physical. We want to look good. We want to feel good. We want to look good. But really when you dig deep and peel back the layers, these two women were getting married because of their souls.

And that’s what touched me. That’s a great story. I can feel the big calm in the room with that story. Cause as you said, it’s such an emotional moment. In their lives and everybody that’s there and it is. It is an emotional moment. And again, as you know, we’ve been in the wedding industry for a while.

You’re around couples. Listen, they’ve dreamt about this day. They want to look good. It’s looking at me. And I think that’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. And you find that especially with first-timers and not that, you know, we want people getting married, but technically we’re married about two and a half times in our lives. They say, I don’t know. What can I tell you? Yeah, I’m a widow. So I don’t know.

Relieving Stress

It takes me back. I’m going to get a little personal. It takes me back to when we got married and you’re saying that this tension is built up and our minister. He cracked a joke, and that was probably the best thing that ever happened to us because we just calmed down and, it just took away all of that stress because most people don’t remember their ceremonies.

It’s 15 minutes and then they’ll remember the reception. So, yeah, if you can capture that moment just to release the stress as you mentioned, all of this time spent planning the wedding. It’s priceless. And it’s true. I do that with my couples. I have a line, and I’ll share this with anybody listening, when they actually are down the aisle, they’re facing me and I’m trying to tell them, okay, face me, they’re facing each other.

And I’ll have to say, okay, face me and just take a deep breath. And I’ll ask them, even if they have guests, are you nervous? And they’ll go, yes. say, don’t be nervous. I’m nervous. I don’t know anybody here. And boom, they just wind up relaxing. And I think that you’re right.

The officiant makes or breaks The start of the wedding ceremony and the celebration. I believe that. I agree. I love that you do that too. Just shows your professionalism.

About Maria Romano and True Love Knots

Speaking about you, let’s talk about who you are and about your company. Well, I am Maria Romano, a transplant from the Bronx, New York. I moved out to Las Vegas in 1976.

And most people don’t know Matt. I was in the rental car industry for many years. That’s how I met my late husband, Frank, and we opened up a car rental company. I actually was one of the first woman-owned businesses that was awarded a contract in one of the largest airports in the country, which was McCarran. Then we wound up selling. And as you know, I’m a widow, my husband passed away in 2012. And I decided that in 2010 when we sold our business, I needed to do something. I needed to do something. And I went to a wedding ceremony and I became a wedding officiant because I saw one of my friends get married and it was a woman.

And I said I can do that. Well, let me tell you, that’s easier said than done. It was hard. There wasn’t anybody out there who was willing to take me under their wings here in Las Vegas. We’re going back 12, 13 years ago, and people weren’t as kind because, you know, it’s a big business here in Vegas.

You know that and everybody takes their business and they guard it and keep it under their vest. So they don’t want anyone new coming in. So I pounded the pavement for many years, on the strip. Different chapels getting out there and really honing in on what, what do I do well. I had to think about that.

And I think as you have your listeners, whoever is in the business or thinking about whether DJing, photography, officiating, whatever it is, what do you do? Well, what can you bring? One of the skills I bring is number one is I like to make people feel comfortable. Seen and heard, and I want to provide them with something that they will remember, not just read the script, feel the script.

And that’s the key thing about officiating. And that’s why I teach now too. That’s the difference of, I think when you really get involved with anything you’re doing, it’s like what you’re doing. You’re researching songs and you’re finding out what what’s making people tick. That takes me right into how you personalize each of your ceremonies for each couple.

Officiating In Las Vegas

Well, as you know, here in Las Vegas, again, and I have to use the business model is so different here versus outside of Las Vegas, because most officiants will spend sometimes several hours with a couple, creating and crafting their wedding ceremony. I have done that too. Yes. But most of the time, 70 percent of my wedding ceremonies are done in a chapel or a chapel at one of the hotels.

 I don’t have that luxury. So that’s where I’ve had to learn how to meet the couple and hear their love story 15 minutes before their ceremony and intertwine their love story in my framework. And you know what, by the time I’m finished, most of my couples will say, I can’t believe you knew about us the way you did.

Incorporating Couple’s Story

I think that the key thing is those listening skills that you need to develop as somebody in business, whether a sole entrepreneur or you’re running a team the key thing is listening to what your couple, what your client has to say, and then being able to incorporate it.

I love that in creating their story. It goes down to knowing your couples and making that personal to them. Even comes down to, instead of saying bride, bride, groom, groom, bride and groom, using their real names and pronouncing them correctly. That’s such an important factor in the ceremony. It’s so true.

And I use a couple’s name several times throughout the ceremony. It’s not just the I do portion or vows when they’re repeating. That makes it a lot more personable. When I also go out and introduce myself, even at a chapel, most officiants don’t do this, introduce myself to the guest. Because the guest of what?

They’ve flown in, they’ve spent money, right? The time they’re there. Even though it’s a 10-minute ceremony, you want to make them feel welcomed as well, and part of it. I think that is, you’re right. That’s the key thing. That’s, what’s going to set any officiant apart. I love it. Great tips.

Music Moments During the Ceremony

In your opinion, are there particular moments of a ceremony you would recommend for couples to play music? Well, okay. Now, as an officiant. think music is beautiful. Music sets the tone, especially when you have the bridal party walking down. However, now this is where anybody that is running a sound booth, let’s say in a chapel and playing music, right?

Funneling it through the speakers, or you have a live music or a DJ and I work with all three. So I’m familiar with it. Is there a moment when as soon as the bride might be presented? That music needs to fade out because it’s very awkward standing there waiting for that videographer to maybe fade out the music, the DJ, whoever it is, that’s running the music, okay, to do that because That beginning is the most important part of the ceremony, your tone, your cadence, and how you’re welcoming everybody and welcoming the couple.

It’s their special day. that’s 1 area that fades out right away. And then I started thinking about 1 of the things that some people think they want to hear music during the vow portion.

What if their voices are low? Most chapels and most locations don’t always have sound. Then even if they have sound, sometimes people, the couples, they’re a little shy. and if you tell them to speak up, then their voice gets real squeaky, right? That’s what happens. You really need to be mindful of what the actual music level and the volume are during the Ceremony as far as vows.

And then of course, the same thing with when you get to the candles, because I do, we do a lot of candle ceremonies in these chapels, but this is what I always tell IQ, my videographer, listen, I have something important to say about the candle. Let everybody hear it besides the couple, then play your music.

That’s exactly what I do. I think that’s really important. Everybody wants everything set to music. Even myself, I try to say, Oh, play music for this. But I think that is so important. What you said is to not play music during the vows because everybody’s focusing on the vows and not the music and it takes away from the vows.

Well, and you know, you can always maybe loop that into the video later on if you want to, but you have to think about what kind of sound system you’re dealing with at that time and how it’s mixing through. And you might have guests, let’s say in the rear that might not have a microphone, but you have a chapel set up.

So you can, we can have 80 guests, for example, a Chapel of Flowers, the sound will travel. But if I’m fighting with the music, it’s really difficult. And what happens is you lose the guest and that’s important as well. The guests are as much an important part of the ceremony as the couple. love it.

Unity Ceremonies

You mentioned the unity ceremony. Have you conducted any unique unity ceremonies? You know, everybody talks about the candles and the sand. Well, I had a dear friend in the car rental business who came to Las Vegas last month, and he requested that I perform his 20, it was supposed to be a 20-year valerian, but it wound up being 23 because of COVID.

Okay, so I get this candle set up uniquely. And all of a sudden the candle, we put it back and it falls over

 That was a blooper moment, but usually, as far as candles, the thing is, is the candles. It’s really important that, whatever type of, base you’re using for the candles. I think with any officiant it depends upon how you’re handing it to them and that’s the key thing that you need to just watch what as far as I change up what I say as far as the candle, because there are couples that think the candle has something to do with religion and it probably did, but it really doesn’t.

It adds to beautiful pictures. And that’s the difference. That’s why we add candles to our ceremony. Sand ceremonies are fun too, but I’ve also had situations where vessels will break if they’re trying to do it outside because of wind. So you really need to be mindful of that. Or also you’re trying to maybe blend in a family.

I had one where they were like 12 different colored sands and they would try and you really need to think about what you’re doing. It’s nice that you’re trying to blend family in, at the same time, that is so cumbersome for the officiant’s foot for the couple and whoever the children, they might be blending in for the videographer and the photographer.

It reminds me of introducing 12 people coming into the reception hall and mixing 12 different songs. I think takes away from the moment. It does. And you know, we’re seeing today with the trends, as you know, we have a lot of they call them not the Gen Z, which is also known as the Zoomer generation coming up and getting married.

And they’re going to be probably the largest in the demographics. And we’re seeing a lot more whiskey blending. Instead of the candle in place, they put two different types of whiskey in a barrel, which I think are just beautiful wines, kind of hard to blend that way, but the whiskey is fun tequila.

You can do a couple of great things. That’s fine. And then you take that and then if you’re having any issues throughout your first year of marriage, open up the barrel, you have a shot and you feel good. Reminds me of a story I heard once with a couple doing a black and tan. Beer. So you have the light beer and the dark beer. It’s interesting. I love the uniqueness that they bring to their personality like that. I agree.

Instrumental vs Vocal Music

Many couples ask if the music at the ceremony should be instrumental or if it’s okay to have words. What’s your recommendation on that? Well, when you’re walking down the aisle, you can have definitely, you know, a song.

So for example, one of the most popular songs I hear is, Can’t Help Falling in Love. Yes, which is very popular, especially from Crazy Rich Asians. I think everybody wants to walk on this water and have the gown look beautiful. It’s not going to work that way, but it is a beautiful song and that’s the song where you can do both.

I think that actually, the words add value, something to the emotion and how you feel. I think that when you’re walking down the aisle, from my perspective. Definitely use that use if you want to a song, that’s a beat and fun after you pronounce the couple. And of course, it should have maybe some words and everybody’s happy.

You want them on their feet. You want them dancing. However, during the ceremony, if you want to play music when you think about it. Think about that. It should be maybe instrumental. So if you have a favorite song, most of the time, you can find the instrumental version of that. What are the best songs that I have found?

Of course, because we do so many ceremonies here, there’s a song that’s blended. It’s Perfect and Can’t Help Falling in Love. Don’t know if you’ve heard that. Have you heard that one by, is it Jimmy? It sounds like Stampy or Stampede and he takes songs and he puts those melodies together and I love that.

Custom Songs

So if you have two songs you like. This might be the guy to blend it for you. I haven’t heard that, you can’t find somebody that’s done it, then I know a lot of DJs can do that as well. And also there’s a lot of couples, the trend we’re seeing a lot, I’ve seen a few, where they will have a song written for them.

There are those websites that you can, share a little bit about, and then that is written. You can have somebody sing it. You can sing it yourself. You can record it. And of course, utilize that in the ceremony. We might start to see those trends popping up more, especially with the Zoomer generation.

Even one step further than that. I wrote an article about this where exactly what you’re saying. You have SongFinch and SongGlorious who were on Shark Tank. So those sites exist, but then you have AI now where you can write your own song and it’ll produce it for you. There’s the technologies out there and it’s going to get better. So I’m a little worried about, companies like that, like SongFinch. Because now they can use AI to create their own songs.

Using AI

As you know, in the industry, we have people out there who are writing vows and they charge for that. But I have to tell you, I just popped it into chat GPT.

If I want to punch up somebody’s love story and within 20 seconds, keep it under a hundred words. I have their love story. I can even do that with a 15-minute ceremony by just carrying that on my phone. There are great things out there that are going to really enhance the customer’s experience, and the client’s experience as well.

And ChatGPT does that, or AI does it. However, yes, there are going to be, unfortunately, people who become obsolete and that’s just the sad part about it. However, it gives them an opportunity maybe to go on and do something else, to do something bigger and better and challenge themselves. Absolutely. And create their, like we were talking about bringing in their personality into it.

Popular Processional Songs

Are you hearing any particular songs that are popular for couples walking down the aisle besides Can’t Help Falling in Love? Well, A Couple of Forevers is one of them is definitely one that I hear a lot. Marry Me and Fall For You is one that I, love to too.

And when a couple really takes the time to add in those, you know, processional songs. For the bridal party, because sometimes you’ll have one for the groom and one for the bridal party. And then, of course, one for the second partner or bride. And that really makes a big, big difference as far as I’m concerned, taking the time, you know, Marry Me is one that I hear a lot.

So there isn’t anything that’s, Oh, the best one I heard this. I think the groom had to be a little narcissist. Hail to the chief.

Yes. Failed in the chief, honest to God. And I went, what? Okay. I love it when I hear stories like we’re talking about that personalization even like the Star Wars theme or a Star Trek song. I love it when they do that. It’s interesting you mention grooms walking down the aisle it hasn’t been popular very long for grooms to have their own song.

And I love that, that has been brought into, today’s weddings. Well, and that’s important too. Also, it makes a difference when you are dealing with the same gender. Because you want them to both have their moment and they might be coming in separately. So if you have 2 women or 2 men, and the only time it gets a little, I call it a little funky and askew you need to determine who’s the lead.

And if you’re standing for maybe 1 partner partner number 2, who’s coming in. Okay. Second, as opposed to partner number one, because you can’t have everyone stand when one partner walks in. And then what happens when their whole bridal party walks in and then, of course, a second partner walks in?

So that one, I kind of leave, I say, okay, let’s leave it because it looks funny people up and down or people standing the whole time because it takes away from a videographer. And the photographer as well. You heard it here. I love the tip. Cause I agree that would be awkward.

Traditional vs Modern Music

What percentage of your weddings would you say are couples selecting traditional music versus modern music? Well, there is a percentage and I have to tell you that a good 40 percent just will stick with your processional, you know, your traditional processional and recessional music, whatever the venue is offering at that time, the Canon in D as you know, you know, Here Comes the Bride, the Bridal March.

And sometimes it’s only because some couples have so much that dealing with trying to put together a wedding ceremony or it’s the last minute. And they don’t really have the time to think about it. Again, you don’t want to put more pressure on them. You don’t want to say, Hey, you sure you don’t want us to find a song?

They’re there to get married. They can dance to a song later on. I don’t want to put any more pressure on them and the wedding ceremony with or without traditional music, isn’t going to make or break. I agree. Music is just the accent and music is not important to some couples too. Well, no, you’re right.

Live Musicians

It’s not important to them. And really, I like to say, save the fabulous music for when you have your reception with maybe a DJ, or maybe you have live music, whatever you choose. However again, we are seeing some more couples that are adding in music, like a guitarist. Maybe somebody that’s playing the keyboard because they like that touch.

But again, I have to tell you, you’re bringing in that live music during the ceremony. And it really sometimes does not pay as a 10-minute ceremony. And they’re only there maybe for that if they’re staying or going later on to reception, that’s a different story. That’s a great point. I always think of string quartets as people arrive for the prelude, but not during the actual ceremony.

And then you never see them again because they’re not going to be at the reception. Well, I have to tell you, at the Venetian, I also, work out of there probably one of the top. chapels in the city and they have a beautiful violinist that they offer with it comes with their package. And I will tell you a violinist is beautiful because they’re the way they play and they can also play in a way where it’s background music and it’s not interfering with the actual sound as well.

That’s the exception. I will say even guitar. Then you can bring your own uniqueness to it. When my nephew got married, I was like, I know this song. This is Beauty and the Beast. It was the harp playing Beauty and the Beast. Oh, the harp is beautiful.

A Unique Unity Ceremony

Is the unity ceremony popular at your weddings? What percentage would you say that the unity ceremony happens? About 90%. Okay. 90 percent of the time. And that’s 10 percent is where we get to see things that are a little different. That’s too bad that it’s only 10%. Well, when the zoomers, as you said, pop up, hopefully, that uniqueness and the experience that they want, but we’ll have more unique ceremonies anyway.

The cord ceremony also is one that I’m getting to see more of where they have the three strands and that’s important. Then of course you have the jumping of the broom. And the lasso ceremony, the coins. So it just depends culturally too. Absolutely.

Hiring An Officiant Tips

What tips would you give to couples that are hiring an officiant?

Well, one size does not fit all. Okay. We’d like to think so that we can fit into something right. That might not be made for us. And really one size doesn’t fit all when you’re out there looking for an officiant. And that seems to be, on the bottom of the list when couples are looking to get married, and that should be somewhere right there with your photographer, your videographer, your venue.

And the reason for that is your Offciant sets the tone and the trajectory for your special day. You’re spending a lot of money on that day. Right. Your people might be coming in or traveling to see you, there’s a lot of time involved and to turn it to think about, well, it doesn’t matter. Maybe Uncle Harry can marry me, right?

Or I’ll just go find somebody that’s a mobile minister. And that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with choosing that, but you want to make sure whoever’s officiating understands that this is also part of this, you’re creating memories. And in order for you to have those memories. Video-wise, right?

Photography-wise, if an officiant doesn’t get it right, there are no do-overs. We say that in the business, you can’t, if you do something wrong, if you forget something, you will miss something that could make a break. How a couple feels. And that’s the difference. Think about that. And also the shot, you want somebody that’s professional enough that knows not to interfere with the rest of the wedding team there that you spent a lot of money on your special day to get great pictures, to get great video. That’s important as well.

One side note, I was thinking about that when you were talking about Vegas weddings and officiants. Are the chapels picking who the officiants are at their location? Kind of like a photographer or a DJ? Well, one of the chapels I work out of, we have to audition. I’ve been working at Chapel of Flowers.

That’s one of my accounts. I only deal with about three or four accounts and do privates. What they do is there will be special request ministers. And I’m the one because I’m flexible. I just can throw myself into a situation. I had one of the head ministers called me. Yes, he goes, Maria. He said, I have a couple that has two readings and I’m going to give it to you because I know you’ll do a good job with it.

I said, sure, no problem. The Venetian will also do that. They will look at the right minister for the right couple. But I will say this, I have to say this. So a lot of times they’ll send out, Oh, it’s Maria Romano who is going to be your officiant. They’ll think it’s Mario. Then when I show up, I’ve had this where you’re not a man, I really want a male. Sorry. But today is changing and a lot of people are moving away from that tradition of having a man marry you.

Not that, you know, it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s a man or a woman marrying you. And this is what couples need to understand. What makes the difference is what they’re going to deliver, how they’re going to deliver it, and what work you’ve done as a couple. It’s going forward so that your marriage lasts beyond the wedding ceremony.

That is such a very important topic that something I don’t think about all the time just because we’re the wedding capital of the world. So many weddings happen here. When I think of ministers. That’s what I wanted to say that a lot of the words are interchangeable, the officiant, the preacher, the pastor, the minister, where some of those words you think of getting married at a church, but we have so many chapels out here.

A lot of people refer to us as celebrants. Sometimes they don’t want to use the word God. They don’t want to necessarily hear you’re a reverend. Technically, I’m a reverend. That’s the title that they gave me years ago.

When we got licensed here, we had to be affiliated with the religion. Now it’s changed because not everybody wants somebody who is affiliated with a religious organization and that’s their choice. Have you worked with other religious figures at ceremonies Yes, I have. I have shared, for example, I’ve had priests come in that will do the blessing. They’ll do the blessing and then of course I will do the rest of the ceremony. So I call them the officiant of honor. Then we give them that title. Great.

Marrying in the Grand Canyon

Before we close out, I have to ask you, I remember a conversation we had and you were marrying a couple flying or taking a helicopter down to the Grand Canyon and you were saying something about, you have to be careful when you pronounce them married.

Technically, you’re landing in a different state, so can you at least describe that? Yes, yes. I work with Maverick Helicopters. That is one of my accounts, and I love those wedding ceremonies. We fly to the Grand Canyon. That’s one of the routes. You can either go to Valley of Fire, which of course is still in Nevada, and of course over the Strip or Red Rock.

So when we go to the Grand Canyon, we perform the ceremony. However, either on the way back or before We leave, I will pronounce the couple in Las Vegas, then that’s the difference so that we make it legal. Now, some people might forget, but I really try to keep it legal that way. And I like to do it in the helicopter.

And the reason I like to do it in a helicopter is it’s recorded, God forbid, but God’s always watching over us. Something would happen and there was ever a question. They have that there. That would be a great memento, too, that you could forward them on a flash drive. Here are your vows that we said on the helicopter.

They give it to them. I think they give them that automatically. That’s part of their package. That’s pretty cool. It’s a cool way to get married. We’re seeing a lot of people do that now. It’s very intimate, but it’s so awesome. It is awesome. That would be awesome. That’s why everybody wants to come to Vegas.

Actually. I just launched a podcast today talking about Las Vegas weddings with Joni from LV Wedding Connection. Joni Moss. We love her. Shout out to her and her husband. Yes, absolutely. Just to close is there anything else you want to cover? I’m sorry. That we didn’t cover already.

Tip on Getting Married

One thing I do want to say to anybody who is looking to get married or a vow renewal is to take the time to really think about what’s important to both you and your partner. And what happens is we have so many people coming out we’re in engagement season now, right, Matt, and this is going to be a big year.

That’s what they’re predicting. Lots of people are going to pop the question and we’re going to have a lot of weddings going on in 2025 and take the time to think about what’s important to you. It’s your day and we’re trying to please everyone and we can’t please everyone. What you have to do is please you and your partner and take that time to think about what you want in the way of a ceremony, what you want in the way of a reception, and what works for you, whether that’s something intimate or something large.

But make sure you’re taking the time because you want to go back and look at these memories and you want to know you don’t want to say to yourself, I wish I would have done it differently. There’s only one take, as we say.

Contacting Maria Romano and True Love Knots

Where can people find you and contact you? Well, that’s so easy. I am so accessible.

I’m it’s T R U E L O V E and then it’s K N O T S dot com everywhere on social media. You can find me as a matter of fact, you can even call me if you go to my website, and set up an appointment. Do you have any questions? You know what? I would just love to be able to guide people in the right direction.

Awesome. Thanks, Maria for being on the show. It’s been a pleasure having you on here and having your knowledge. Everybody, please stay tuned for our next episode and I interview another wedding pro. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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