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I am a Chicago Wedding Officiant
How to Obtain Your Marriage License
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Your Rehearsal
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Elopement Ceremonies in Chicago
Chicago Justice of the Peace
Child Naming/Parental Dedication

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(800) 523-5957

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All About My Services

About Thomas Witham
How My Ceremonies Are Different
The Couples I Work For
Wedding Venues Where I've Performed
Religious & Philosophical Expression
Your Greatest Advocate
Letters of Appreciation
For Those Previously Married

Designing Your Ceremony

Facing Your Guests (Modern Format)
Backs Turned (Traditional Format)
Examples of Wedding Vows
Environment
Ushers
Effective Seating
Aisle Runner or Petals
Children in Wedding Ceremonies
The Escorting of a Bride
Taking Parental Vows
The Use of Music
Using a Pedestal
Using a Wedding Carriage
A New Role For Grandparents
Readers
Wedding Ceremony Readings
In Memoriam

Ceremonies in Special Places
Ceremonies in Theme
Taking Your Ceremony to Others
Improvisation
Staying in Character
What Name Should I Use?
What if it Rains?
Fibbing Your Start Time
Ceremonies in Candlelight
The Reception Line

The Order of Events

Primary Options:
Read this First
The Unity Candle
Champagne Sharing
The Sand Ceremony
The Blessing Tree
Tying the Knot
Tasting the Elements
Using a Photomontage
The Giving of Roses

Options In Finale:
Butterfly Release
Dove Release
Balloon Release
Tossing Petals
Bubbles in a Wedding Ceremony
Applause Walk

The Five Rules:
Rule One
Rule Two
Rule Three
Rule Four
Rule Five

Advice on Photography
Advice on Wedding Coordinators
Death by Venue
An Invitation To Journalists

Resources and Links

For Those Considering Plagiarism

Home Page

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About Thomas Witham
Thomas Witham Officiating at the Art Institute
Thomas Witham, in center aisle, officiating for Carlin and Allison at the School of the Art Institute - Chicago, Il.

My Professional Background

Image of Thomas WithamI am a Humanist Celebrant, and am legally credentialed as such. As a wedding minister or wedding officiant, I may perform wedding ceremonies in any state. I also play a central role in my couples' wedding planning. Humanism is a philosophy, or we might say, an attitude toward life. Humanists believe in the support and nurture of the entire human community. As a Humanist, I strongly endorse the following - democracy, reason, education, equality, social justice, environmental responsibility, the arts, open mindedness, tolerance.

To give you a better understanding of how my background as a Chicago wedding officiant relates to my brides and grooms, I will present this information in a
question and answer format, using those questions typically asked of me by couples.


Is Humanism a religion?

No it is not, and therefore it is not in conflict with anyone's religious views. Humanism is a philosophy or an attitude toward life. Most people are humanistic but may have never heard their beliefs given that title. Most Americans I know, be they Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or non-religious, believe in most if not all of the points I have listed above. Humanism is not a substitute for religion, it simply upholds a number of wonderful ways of living with fellow human beings. The vast majority of religious people hold very Humanistic views about living with one another.

What kind of ceremony do you use?

My ceremony uses many universal themes that also express my views on marriage:

  • That the institution of marriage is to be honored.
  • That marriage is a commitment for life.
  • That married life will have its ups and downs ("in sickness and in health") and that these times are to be endured.
  • That marriage is not a means to an end, but rather, a opportunity in life to grow.

A wedding ceremony is no place for controversy. Neither is it a place to preach, raise money, or express political views. My ceremonies have always been well received because they express what the majority of the public and I believe about wedded life.

May couples compose their own vows?

Yes, they may compose their own vows and any other element of their ceremony, including substituting the entire ceremony with their own.

Do your ceremonies reference God and use prayer?

Complete freedom is given to my brides and grooms regarding the expression of their religious beliefs. Many couples have requested me to use prayer and scripture reading. Other couples have asked to have their own clergy participate in the ceremony with me. Consequently, I have concelebrated my ceremonies with Jewish rabbis, Protestant ministers and Catholic deacons. These ceremonies wonderfully expressed the religious beliefs of the bride and groom.

Many of my couples want to honor God, their faiths, or religious identities during their ceremony. However they don't want any religious expression used in their ceremony to be heavy handed, preachy or saccharin.

Just as many other couples want no religious expression in their ceremony because that would not reflect who they are. Your ceremony is not a place to become more or less religious, that would be disingenuous.

Do you have any prohibitions regarding your ceremonies?

I will not perform a ceremony that fails to honor and dignify marriage. I also will not perform a ceremony in an inappropriate place. I have no use for gimmick weddings.

Marriage is the foundation of family, and a lifelong commitment. Let us therefore honor and protect it, and let this begin at your ceremony.

Only brides and grooms advise me on the specifics of their wedding ceremony. They alone are the sole authority. Third parties such as wedding coordinators play no role in the design, rehearsal and performance of my ceremonies (just as I don't advise wedding coordinators on their duties).

Do you question the religious beliefs of your brides and grooms, or their reasons for getting married, or require them to take classes?

No I don't. You're adults, and deserve to be treated that way. It isn't anyone's business but your own as to why you are marrying.

What other advice do you have for couples who are considering your services?

My couples have power of editorship over everything that is said and done during their ceremony. These details are worked out during their wedding planning session with me at their home and during their rehearsal session. Put your heart into what you're doing and create a ceremony that reflects your feelings for each other as well as your beliefs in marriage. Your wedding day and your married life begin with this event.


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