“Are you married?” I ask. “No, but my girlfriend is,” replies Alan Katz.
Katz, the owner of and presiding officiant at Great Officiants, is a joker. He also has a passion for performance – a trait evident in his mannerisms and ability to project his voice across a room, and to transition from jokester to solemn wedding official to guy-next-door in the span of a sentence. Of the 1,300 weddings Great Officiants and its team of 29 officiants perform each year, Katz personally conducts 700 of them. And every single one of them is special. “Couples don’t want to have the same old ceremony they’ve seen time after time,” says Katz. “My goal is to have people leaving the ceremony laughing, having totally loved every minute of it. I want people to enjoy the ceremony, not endure it.”
To that end, Katz will go to great lengths. There was the time he dressed up as a Bacchus-like character for the couple that wanted to get married in their Halloween costumes as a cluster of grapes and a bottle of wine. They married in his 30-seat wedding chapel and shimmied down the aisle to “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” And the time when, in his officiant capacity, he impersonated Borat, the irreverent TV personality from Kazakhstan, as well as Ozzy Osbourne, a pirate, Father Guido, and a farmer, among many others. “I’m the go-to guy for all weddings, but especially theme weddings in Southern California,” says Katz. “I’m a theater person, so being able to do something different is an ‘ahhhh’ moment for me.”
Despite his penchant for performance, Katz isn’t all jokes, all the time, and the majority of his ceremonies are of the traditional bent. Together with his team of officiants, Great Officiants covers weddings of all kinds, from Jewish to Christian to interfaith, Buddhist and same-sex. “Since the company started 10 years ago, we’ve always been a believer in equal opportunity,” says Katz. “I believe that all couples have the right to be miserable.” Ba-dum tshh!
But seriously, folks. Katz’s belief is that the ceremony is all about the couple getting married, and while he views his role in their big day as central to a successful wedding, he’s not interested in becoming a caricature out of central casting. “I take a different view of ceremonies,” he says. “Couples don’t want the same old guy standing up there holding a book, saying ‘Blah, blah, you may kiss the bride.’ What I’ve done is interject some performance into the ceremony so it’s a show rather than just the same old diatribe. I want people to be on the edge of their seats, not sighing with relief when it’s over.”
A former actor and comedian, Katz, to the benefit of the nuptial-bound everywhere, has discovered his calling with Great Officiants. “I found the role of my lifetime,” he says. “I don’t consider this work. I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you know what they say: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Say “I Do”
Alan Katz has been featured in The Knot’s Best of Weddings Hall of Fame from 2011-2014 and the WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice from 2010-2014 for both LA and OC. For more information or to book him or one of his officiants for a wedding, call his office or visit his website.
562.435.4000 :: greatofficiants.com