Spotlight: Weddings Royale

Courtesy of Weddings Royale
Meet the power couple behind Weddings Royale, dedicated to crafting unforgettable wedding celebrations
Written by
Laura Cross

In the world of weddings, the ceremony is the heart of the celebration, a moment where two lives come together in a story uniquely their own. Valerie and Ryan Kingsman, the talented husband-and-wife team behind Weddings Royale, have mastered the art of creating personalized and meaningful wedding ceremonies that leave lasting impressions.

Join us as we explore their inspiring journey, gain insights into their creative process, and discover the passion and dedication that drives them to make every couple's special day truly remarkable.

Can you share the story behind how you became wedding officiants and what inspired you to embark on this journey?

Our own love story was the original inspiration. Thirteen years ago, we were in the midst of planning our own wedding and it was important that our story be incorporated into the ceremony somehow. We had a unique whirlwind romance around the world, literally, that ended in an epic proposal in Uganda. Many of our guests had supported us along the journey and we wanted to revisit the magic in a collective experience. The trouble was articulating exactly how that would work in a ceremony. It seemed logical to choose an officiant who knew us personally, so we followed tradition and chose our church pastor and friend.

He assured us he was up for the task, but in the end, we were sorely disappointed. As we stood at the altar and listened (in horror) to the same one-size-fits-all wedding script, a deep sense of loss set in. This tremendous opportunity to capture the essence of who we were on this milestone day was wasted - an opportunity we could never get back. Worse, when he did attempt to personalize, it was peppered with awkward inside jokes and negative comments about the hardships of marriage. Let’s just say we were ready for it to end and so were our poor guests!

For years after we reflected on what went wrong and how it could have been better. And as we witnessed the same unfortunate ceremonies unfolding at our friends’ weddings, we sympathized deeply with that same sense of loss and regret we’d felt on our big day.

Since we’d both spent many years on a variety of stages, we decided to combine our skills and set out to define what our ideal ceremony would have looked like. Valerie brought her background as a journalist, radio host and TV news writer and Ryan brought his experience in musical theater, church ministry and public speaking. Together we constructed what would become the love storytelling framework for the custom ceremonies we deliver to this day.

Coincidentally, our first opportunity to officiate came along soon after while Ryan was working at a church. He witnessed the lead pastor refusing to marry a young couple because they failed to meet a set of religious requirements and it broke our hearts. So we decided to offer to officiate instead. After a fun coffee meeting, they excitedly gave Ryan the honor of highlighting their beautiful long-distance love story. The planning process was smooth and the couple was beaming on their big day. Ryan captured the details of their multi-cultural heritage, honored their families from Japan and South America, praised their love story and concluded within the allotted timeframe of 23 minutes. They couldn’t have been more grateful and we couldn’t have been more honored to be a part of it. The rest is history!

Since that first ceremony in 2014, we’ve been hooked on the high of love storytelling. And in the last 10 years, we’ve had the privilege of sharing the inspiring stories of over 1,000 couples.

Courtesy of Weddings Royale

What elements do you believe are crucial in crafting a personalized and meaningful wedding ceremony that reflects the couple's love story?

First, chemistry with the couple is key. It’s always so much fun getting to know them! We laugh together and encourage them to think through what this day is really about. This builds trust and creates a very natural, close friend feel between the 3 of us by the time their day arrives.

Second are the details. Our goal is to capture them in a way that highlights the unique details of their story. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but we have to include specific moments from the couple’s past experiences, the things that matter most to them and the vibes they want to create throughout. We help them dig for the gems they want to use to illustrate their love. For one bride, it was a butterfly release to honor her grandmother’s passing. Another groom chose a special passage for his sister to read in Spanish. And another couple wanted to surprise their guests with a pregnancy announcement during their personal vows! The variety makes it a one-of-a-kind experience that keeps everyone at the edge of their seats.

And the third element is to skillfully incorporate the classical/traditional elements. The modern elements invite guests to engage in a fresh way while the classical elements provide the sacred rights of passage that usher our couple into the world of matrimonial status. Hashtag “Married!”

How do you ensure an engaging guest experience, and what fine details do you prioritize to enhance the overall ceremony atmosphere?

First impressions are key. From the moment we take the mic, we have only mere seconds to entice guests to sincerely engage. Most often, these initial moments occur during the pre- ceremony announcement, so we make every effort to connect with the crowd. Though we’ve taken great care in choosing the actual words we use and how we say them, the greatest factors are nonverbal - eye contact, posture, facial expressions, proximity to the guests, the professionalism of our appearance and the omission of physical barriers like podiums and binders. It’s in these crucial moments that we seek to win their attention and excite them for what’s in store.

On that same note, the opening of the ceremony is equally important. This is why our scripts are almost entirely memorized. It’s the first time our couple has appeared to their guests and we want to be there to support them with a lot of eye contact and reassuring smiles. We also plan ahead to ensure the intro consists of a mix of formal language with a twist of playful suspense and humor. The goal is to honor the milestone day that it is and surprise guests with the permission to have a little fun.

Fun and humor go a long way, especially when we weave it throughout a love story! Since storytelling is always the best way to keep interest, we make sure to accomplish this early on. We all know who we’re celebrating, but it’s important that we remind everyone of what we’re celebrating.

Courtesy of Weddings Royale

How do you go beyond the traditional role of officiants to contribute to the overall experience of the wedding day?

We aim to be our couple’s greatest cheerleader in every way. We’re there to support them from the moment we meet and leave the door open for a lasting friendship long after their big day.

Support for each couple looks different, so we offer a variety of “Royale Treatment” services to suit their needs. Our pre and post marital mentorship and coaching programs are popular and provide extra opportunities to guide and hang out with them. By the time the big day arrives, they truly do have a “friend” marrying them.

We’ve also created a variety of our own signature ceremony elements to bring everyone on board. Couples love and appreciate their many options to enhance the quality of their guests’ experience.

How do you collaborate with couples to ensure their values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds are respectfully incorporated into the ceremony?

This is the most natural part of the planning process. Our meetings feel like a fun conversation down Memory Lane and we discover how we can best serve them when they open and up and blossom with their own ideas. We are then able to offer options to reflect them in the ceremony.

Courtesy of Weddings Royale

How do you approach the responsibility of guiding couples through the legal aspects of marriage, ensuring a seamless and stress-free process for them?

Legal paperwork can be daunting, so we give them our simplified, nutshell version of how to obtain a marriage license. It’s a simple process that we offer to finish for them by filing their license back to the clerks office.

As a husband and wife team, how do you collaborate to bring your individual strengths and perspectives into creating seamless and memorable ceremonies for your clients?

As a husband and wife team, we have a huge advantage. We not only cherish each love story, but we are continually building our own. It’s been great fun working together and meshing our skills to create our signature ceremony elements. Valerie’s background in radio and TV has brought a journalist’s approach to our natural interview process and the methods we use in our professional deliveries. She also has a flare for comedy and has used her love of making people laugh to enhance our scripts with witty phrases and entertaining elements. Ryan is a performer at heart and very gifted with words. His experience as a musical theater star shines bright whenever he takes the stage, but he’s also a die hard romantic. He has written a number of beautiful passages we use throughout our ceremonies that leaves everyone with happy tears.

Courtesy of Weddings Royale

How has the role of wedding officiant evolved over the years and what trends have you observed in the ceremonies you conduct?

Wedding officiants used to be stereotyped into one of two categories - church official or that guy on the Vegas strip dressed as Elvis! Then came the trend of family members and friends filling the officiant role, but a professional officiant is still a fairly new concept.

Even more progressive is the idea of investing in your love story with a professionally skilled speaker. However, we are seeing a rise in the awareness of the power of words in a ceremony. Apps and websites specifically dedicated to speech building and ceremony scripts are beginning to emerge and couples are exploring the idea of gaining control over the ceremony experience.

Most couples we work with have witnessed an awkward ceremony and given great thought into how they can make their own better. They recognize the value of their story and that the experience is worth investing in.

Can you share any advice for couples who may be uncertain about the type of ceremony or vows that align with their unique relationship?

1) Keep it simple and authentic. This is your ceremony and it should properly reflect who you are as a couple. If you try to capture your relationship in its entirety during the ceremony, it would take hours! Instead, highlight your relationship in each and every detail - your flowers, music, food, attire, etc.

2) Go with your gut. If writing and speaking personal vows is going to steal joy from the day, throw them out or opt for private vows. If we’re creative, there’s always a solution.

3) You two come first. Couples can be overwhelmed with outside advice, but what you two want matters most. Always honor what you truly envisioned this day to be and support each other in your decisions. You deserve it!

Courtesy of Weddings Royale

In your experience, what are some common misconceptions about wedding officiants?

Unfortunately, the list of misconceptions is long and oftentimes accurate. Officiants are historically portrayed in movies and TV as strange, outdated, and anything but luxurious because this is the experience most people have had. So the ceremony is seen as something they need to get through rather than something they look forward to. It’s no wonder why many people opt for family members or friends to officiate instead, but that can come with some challenges as well.

We’re on a mission to raise the bar for officiants in the wedding culture and we’ve worked very hard to provide every couple with a “Royale” experience. So we give them full control and pay close attention to every detail. We value appearance and professionalism and encourage our couples to choose our attire just as they would for their bridal party. We walk them through every aspect of their ceremony, get their approval on all verbiage of the script and are always flexible to make changes. And we make timeliness a high priority out of respect for the guest experience and for the timeline their team of vendors rely on to make the day run smoothly.

What is the most rewarding aspect about playing a pivotal role in a couples' special day?

We’re given a unique opportunity to stand with and for our couples on their big day and we don’t take that privilege lightly. The best part is that our contribution continues to live on in the hearts and minds of our couples and their guests.

A message from a recent bride captures all that we could hope for:

“I just wanted to reach out and say thank you soooooooo much for everything. We constantly got compliments on how amazing the ceremony was.You really made our day so special. We are beyond thankful for everything that you have done for us and for making our process so flawless. We wish we could tell everyone how amazing you guys are because, honestly, everyone deserves this on their special day. Thank you again for everything!!”

Courtesy of Weddings Royale