Creating a Joyful, Unique Wedding Ceremony

Written by Chelsea Maguire, E. Washington Regional Development Director

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of BBB’s online magazine Torch Talk. In the issue we featured BBB accredited business Joyous Vows of Idaho. CLICK HERE to read the full issue and to subscribe.

The dress. The ring. The first dance. Your wedding day is often one of the happiest days of your life. Wedding planning, on the other hand, may feel overwhelming with stress to create the perfect day. Amidst the chaos of choosing the flowers, caterer, location and music, couples often don’t consider the importance of the key person facilitating the ceremony – the officiant.

The officiant sets the tone and weaves the story of the couple’s relationship through the ceremony, creating a special moment for when they say, “I do.” This is what Dave Cavanaugh, owner of Better Business Bureau Accredited Business, Joyous Vows, loves about his role as officiant.

Joyous Vows Picture
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

“I get to work with couples and create something special that amplifies their joy and happiness, not only for the couple, but for their guests,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh came to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2013 from a career in high tech in Silicon Valley, California. He loved working with people and creating change by helping others be their best selves. Around the time he moved to North Idaho, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, allowing same sex marriages nationwide.

“If people really love each other and want to be committed to one another, I want to help create a positive force in their lives,” Cavanaugh said.

After the Ninth Circuit of Appeals struck down same-sex marriage bans in California, Idaho and Nevada in 2014 he became an ordained minister, started Joyous Vows and began officiating weddings for people of all walks of life in 2015.

Every couple’s story is different, and Cavanaugh vows to offer a custom experience showcasing the unique traits of each partner. As an independent officiant, he is flexible and offers multiple alternatives for each section of the wedding such as the specific vows, ring exchanges or a symbol of unity. He recalls a ceremony he facilitated for a couple where instead of using a traditional candle, they chose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to display their partnership.

“It was a sweet – and delicious – way to show their personality,” Cavanaugh said.

Joyous Vows 1
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

Although Joyous Vows has facilitated more than a hundred successful weddings since its inception a year ago, not all wedding officiants have created this special experience for their couples.

“I’ve heard horror stories of ministers or other officiants flaking out and never showing up, or friends who have committed to officiating a wedding but back out last minute due to nerves,” Cavanaugh said. “I met a caterer that even became ordained after the fifth time she witnessed the officiant never showing up. You don’t want the officiant to be the center of attention on your special day.”

This inspired Cavanaugh to apply for BBB Accreditation last fall. He wanted to make sure potential customers knew they could trust him to follow through and provide a great experience for their wedding day.

“In an industry where you’re trying to catch people’s attention, there needs to be something there to differentiate you from the competition. I wanted to offer a level of confidence that when someone chooses me, they know I’m certifying that what I do is professional and will meet your needs,” Cavanaugh said.

Joyous Vows 2
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

Joyous Vows offered the following top three tips for couples looking for an officiant:

  • The chemistry needs to be right. Your officiant should match what you have in mind for the theme of your wedding. Whether you want your day to be traditional, formal, funny, unique or quirky, your officiant should have those same characteristics.
  • Look for someone with experience. Look for reviews or recommendations to make sure your officiant has been successful in the past. Check with BBB to see if they are accredited; the prestige of BBB behind them offers peace of mind, especially knowing they will resolve any issues if they arise.
  • Take the lead. You and your partner have the final say in how you want your wedding ceremony to look. Find someone who can help deliver the theme, mood and sentiments you Make sure your wants and needs are known so the experience can meet your vision.

To find a BBB Accredited officiant in your area, go to