By very definition, weddings are sweet, meaningful and a poignant declaration of love and commitment. When Frank Harlan orchestrates a wedding, those qualities seem to magnify by a thousand.
With a flair for storytelling, Frank's outgoing personality and unique style make wedding ceremonies FUN. Many couples are drawn to him for other important reasons, too. We were so excited to learn more about him after his third wedding here this past weekend and he was happy to answer all my questions with candor and humor. Read on for more information about Frank, why he's so darn popular with our couples, his view on marriage, gay rights and his three sage pieces of advice from a seasoned wedding pro.
So Frank, first thing's first: What made you want to become a wedding officiant? And what drew you to perform secular ceremonies?
Becoming an Officiant wasn’t something that I thought too much about; it was something that found me. For me, as a performance artist, creating wedding ceremonies has provided me some of the most satisfying opportunities of my life! Please understand I’m not performing the duties as an Officiant because I believe in holy matrimony; as a Secular Officiant, I perform only Non-religious wedding ceremonies. I was drawn to Officiating because I wholeheartedly believe in human love.
I’ve always known it but, over the years it has become oh so clear, the one constant in all of our lives is “change”. As I started rolling into my 50’s I found myself burned out with event planners and corporate clientele. After a chance conversation with a guy at the Food Bank where I volunteer and some curious research I concluded that one of the best ways to take advantage of my age, my personal style and a 30+ year history as a entertainer, public speaker, and my creative skills as a writer was to shape-shift into a Wedding Officiant. The transition was natural for me. If you dig around a little you will find other former special event producers that have also found officiating wedding ceremonies to be their calling.
One thing that we love about your ceremonies is how incredibly thoughtful and personal they are. You seem to take a lot of time to get to know the couple and their story. Can you tell us a little more about your unique style?
Thank you. I always make sure my brides and grooms are very clear of the fact that a wedding ceremony is like a one act play; I script, choreograph and block each ceremony like a theater production. I want the couples who work with me to be comfortable with my style of presentation and to trust my counsel. After all, they are the stars of the show.
Once I’m booked by a couple, and before writing their ceremony script I ask a lot of questions. However, you can really capture the essence of a couple’s relationship during the initial consultation. I make a lot of observations and detailed notes. I get them to talk about each other (tell their story) and watch them light up. I show them how I sequence the elements of a ceremony and recite bits from some of my favorite speeches to see if they connect emotionally with my words… they think they are interviewing me; actually it’s the other way around.[..]