Hi everybody. Welcome to the wedding ceremony podcast. We talk about anything and everything that has to do with the wedding ceremonies. This is episode number 318. recorded on Tuesday, June the eighth 2021. My name is Clint Hufft. And with me is a gentleman that is excited about our special guest the one and only JP Reynolds.
JP Reynolds 0:23
That's all gonna say. Let's keep moving.
JP is an accomplished author. His books are in the Amazon store and in the Kindle store in Amazon. He is a communications expert. thebusinessofconfidence.com is that website, his wedding website is JPRweddings.com. Mine is ReverendClint.com or ClintHufft.com, for all of the things that I do. Well, I'm not gonna wait any longer. We have a very special guest all the way from Florida. He is Keith Carson, Keith, how are you?
I'm doing great. I really appreciate you guys having me on.
We're gonna get more out of this than you are. I'll tell you that right now. Okay, so before we started recording, Keith, you explained to us what you did over the last two weeks. Would you mind repeating that for all of the listeners?
Keith Carson 1:17
Well, yeah, I kind of feel like Superman minus the phone booth, doing a lot of quick changes, but I had one couple that bought a piece of property in the middle of nowhere. And during the ceremony, we were watching for snakes.
And that's the end of this episode. Thanks, everybody.
Keith Carson 1:44
Yeah, I'm not kidding. I'm not kidding. So it was very, very casual. They said just, wear some boots and jeans and I did. And then from that wedding, I came back to civilization dressed in much nicer clothing got better groomed, because as you probably saw from the pictures, I do have longer hair and a beard. That changed nicely, did a same sex wedding. And now I'm facing a themed wedding where Captain white beard will be marrying a pirate couple at a pirate festival. And then that will be followed by me putting on my clerical robe and stole and doing a very formal wedding ceremony. I need a valet.
JP Reynolds 2:42
Keith, anybody listening is already fascinated and saying to themselves who is this man? And maybe you could give our listeners some context for all of this, where you're located and how you can go from snakes to pirate ships.
Keith Carson 3:09
You know what that sounds like a good name for a book. So I'm located in the Ocala, Florida area, which is in North Central Florida. I moved up here from Palm Beach County about four years ago. I'm in my sixth year an ordained minister, wedding officiant and I started out actually doing themed weddings that was it. I portray Santa thus the beard I don't have the big belly but I look the part when I get all dressed up. I've married couples as Santa many times. But I would do themed weddings. I married couples as Santa, as a pirate, as a night at Renaissance festivals, as a Western Marshall. You name it. But you know what? It wasn't long before I realized that Most people don't get married in a themed type wedding. More married in a traditional type wedding. So then I started doing those as well. And I have what i have fun doing any type of wedding. No matter what I really do enjoy and love what I do.
Well, it's obvious. The website is your name KeithCarsonWeddings.com. And if you go there, you see, by the way the website’s put together very well. You present yourself very professionally and it tells the story very quickly. And how long have you had that website?
Keith Carson 5:00
That website I launched late last fall. I have another website. I have one that's weddingsforpirates.com. I had another wedding site but I ended up meeting a woman who not only is a wedding officiant, but she also is a website designer, SEO expert, all of those things and I said, I hit the jackpot. And she redid my site, we worked together on it. And I'm thrilled to death with what she came up with for me.
JP Reynolds 5:46
I'm fascinated by your story, as you've just told it. But then even more fascinated to know the story behind the story, meaning, what was your journey to becoming an officiant?
Keith Carson 6:08
Oh, that's actually a good question. So I mentioned that I portray Santa I've been doing Santa for this will be my 16th year. Typically I spend November, most of November, all of December, a little bit of January in New York City as Santa Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas. spectacular. It's a tough job working with ad rockets. But somebody
JP Reynolds 6:38
from New York, I was born and raised in New York, so I sort of
Keith Carson 6:41
maybe, there you go. But I actually had someone reach out to me about marrying them as Santa's back in 2015, in Branson, Missouri. Number one, they knew I was Santa. They knew I was Scottish. And they were it actually happened to be the groom was from Scotland, and wanted a traditional Scottish wedding with handfasting and Bagpiper and the whole nine yards. And I became ordained, they paid for all my travel arrangements to Branson. And I did the I did the wedding, it came off. Great. I loved it. And I said I just I just need to do more of this. And that's really how it developed it was if they had never asked me to do it, I probably would never have even considered doing this. Wow.
We found you because of another officiant who I think is part of one of the Facebook groups, Rachel Griffin is the one who reached out to us and said you need to look for Keith. And she thought that you would be interesting. And the one thing that she did say that I thought spoke to well spoke to you and your personality was how much how much you offer other officiants in these Facebook groups, useful advice, suggestion, encouragement, that sort of thing. Do you see feel yourself as a role model? Or do you feel yourself as somebody who is kind of like a teacher?
Keith Carson 8:18
I do. I've kind of always felt that way. I've leaned in that direction. Because I take pride in what I do. And what Clint what you do and what JP does and what every other wedding officiant does reflects on all of us in some ways. I get tired of hearing the, my cousins, uncles, brothers newspaper boys gardener sister, officiated our wedding and did a horrible job.
Could you repeat that again? Please? Who was that?
Keith Carson 9:10
So a friend of a friend, let's just go with that. I couldn't repeat that in a million years.
But I'm on these Facebook groups, you read all the good stories, but you also read the horror stories. I got to seeing a lot of people posting saying, Hey, I just got ordained today and my first wedding is Saturday. What do I need to know? I see a lot of that and it kind of irked me, because I know how much time that I put into preparing for what i did, marketing and website and learning what there is to learn and I'm still learning. I think we all are.
So I just feel the need to really share, make recommendations. I don't look at other officiants as competition, even if they're in the same area that I'm in, because nobody does what I do, nobody does what you do or what JP does. So I love helping people, give them advice, give them suggestions, tell them where to find information, buy certain things, whatever the case may be. So I spend a lot of time on on Facebook, unfortunately, doling out advice, but it seems to be appreciated. That's how I met Rachel, I believe she's in Georgia. And I've been helping her and others sort of in a maybe in a mentor hood capacity. And I just I enjoy doing it. And I wish somebody was there to do that for me when I started out.
So what is your process? When you get a couple and you have to create a ceremony? Walk us through that? Because everybody's different? Right?
Keith Carson 11:06
Well, I developed a questionnaire that really identifies everything that they want, and everything they don't want. It includes all kinds of information, including how they want me to dress. Now that's within reason, I give them some options. So in Florida, we have a lot of beach weddings. And it could be nothing more than shorts and a tropical shirt and some flip flops, or it could be a little bit more. So it goes anywhere from that casual all the way up to the clerical robe and stole and anything in between from dress pants and a polo shirt to a sport coat to suit and tie to even what colors they're doing so that we don't clash. I'm known for my, my purple sport coat. And I had a bride that said their colors were purple, and everybody was wearing purple. And she was just over the moon when I showed up that way.
That questionnaire really is designed to identify everything. And I do mean everything they want. And more important, what they don't want, I don't want to be standing up in front of a couple and say something and have this look of death come out of them. Like why are you saying that? So once I do the script, I will send them the draft of it for for approval. Most of the time they leave it as is. Occasionally they'll change one little thing here or there. But I know that they're going to be happy with it. And I always tell them if I don't bring you to tears. I haven't done my job.
Oh my gosh.
JP Reynolds 19:01
Man after my own heart.
You couldn’t have said anything more perfect to JP.
JP Reynolds 19:09
Exactly, exactly. But Keith, what you've just described is an approach that is hallmarked by such care and attention to detail that is I think not common in today's world, no matter what the arena might be. And I'm wondering, Did you have any background that oriented you to the power of ritual? It's just very, very moving to hear you say what you just said?
Keith Carson 19:56
No, I really just think it comes down to and I believe wholeheartedly with you, JP, that it's almost like customer service doesn't exist in most industries. And having run my own businesses, that's very important to me. And I just look at what a wedding ceremony is. I mean, it's one of the most important days in a couple's life. And I want to make sure that it's absolutely perfect and that I exceed their expectations. So I take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that that's what ends up happening.
Well, you mentioned some other businesses, where did you come from? I mean, sounds like kind of a long road to becoming an officiant. So what else have you done?
Keith Carson 20:47
I started out, initially as a radio DJ in New York City, I moved to Florida. I never had the the intention of going into this profession, but I actually became a police officer for 25 years.
Oh, wow, that came out of left field.
Wow. Okay, let's all just have a moment here. I love it.
I'm saying someday I'm going to write a book, I have the title. It's going to be called from “rock'n'roll to pest control”, because that really describes the radio career and the law enforcement career, but I retired young, I retired at 46. I've fallen into a lot of things by accident. I didn't intend on being a police officer. A friend who talked me into taking the test with him and the rest is history.
The same thing with Santa. At the time, when I started, I'm six one. I was probably about 180 pounds with short, very dark hair, clean shaven, obviously, the natural choice to be Santa. And a week before a major event that I was part of on the planning committee, the Santa Claus bailed, and now what are we going to do? And I just said, I'll do it. And I ended up portraying Santa for about four and a half or five hours at this event, loved every minute of it and never looked back. And the same thing with, like I said, with the officiant story, how I became an officiant. So I think good things happen for a reason.
What about Florida? Now we live in Southern California. And so generally speaking, December, January, February, we don't get that many weddings. But I've heard that in certain climates It's actually kind of flip flopped on the calendar. What's it like in Florida in regards to the busy season and, JP brought up the idea that there's hurricane season. And what does that all like for you where you are, from a professional standpoint?
Keith Carson 23:01
Well, the area that I'm in, in North Central Florida, we don't get as much effects at all from hurricanes. We have had some stronger winds and such a lot more when I officiated weddings on the southeast coast of Florida when I lived there for a number of years. But I don't know Florida really has a wedding season. A lot hinges on are they going to do an indoor wedding or an outdoor wedding? Obviously. So yeah, I mean, it's hurricane season is something to consider. From June 1 to November 30. In the area that I live in, it can get very cold. Even in the spring, it can be a 20, 30 or 40 degree difference in temperature between night and day. I think most people look at Florida and just say it's ideal to get married there. Any any time of year. Except don't do an outdoor wedding in July or August, unless you want to wear a sponge.
That's excellent. Well, okay, let's tell some stories. We've only got about five minutes left. So Keith, tell us a story. It sounds to me like you've had besides the fact that you had to look out for snakes. Just tell us something that I don't think any of us has probably experienced.
Keith Carson 24:36
Oh, that's, that's a good one. The more traditional I hate to use that word, but when you do a lot of themed weddings, that's the only way I can really explain it. What's the traditional weddings go off Great as you'd expected, but the theme weddings are the ones that are a lot of fun. Oftentimes, those are couples that have been married before. They did the big formal wedding The first time and now they're looking for something fun.
And I did one where I married a couple as Santa. It was an outdoor wedding on Christmas Eve. They were getting married at the end of this dock. And it was just going to be about 10 or so family members who knew nothing about the wedding, they didn't have a clue. They just knew that they were asked to be there. So we came up with this idea, we put the groom at the end of the dock with a fishing pole. With no bait. He just looked like he was fishing. So they went down there. The bride was in getting changed and she was gonna wait. And then I show up dressed is Santa and I walked down to the end of the dock. Now, people give me some questionable like, why is Santa here but not anything out of the ordinary because it's Christmas Eve. And I asked them to gather around and I had started the wedding ceremony with a night before Christmas rewritten. So it was in a city called Lake Wales and it started out towards the night before Christmas, when here on Lake Wales, all the guests, they had gathered having been told some tall tales. And it went on and on and it gave little little hints of what was about to happen. And from my standpoint, it was the greatest thing to watch the guests because they were all going is that they're gonna be until they finally realized that it was going to be a wedding. And then one of one of the bride's children queued the music and she came walking down the dock and they were just big Christmas fans and wanted to get married by by Santa but it was a great, great, great surprise for the family in a real nice Christmas Eve present.
I'm looking at the map right now where Lake Wales is in Florida. And that's that's quite a hike from Ocala.
Keith Carson 26:59
It is Yeah, I think it took me three hours or so to get there. So yeah, the travel time was a lot longer than the ceremony but it was included in the price and of course was Christmas Eve so I had a sleigh And I could get around.
Very good. Very good.
JP Reynolds 27:23
The the pirate themed weddings. I'm presuming it just was a, dare I say, logical extension of the Santa's work.
Keith Carson 27:40
It is and that's where the name white beard came from. I was Santa with a white beard. And that became the captain white beard Who would marry them. I've done so many on ships. And it's just a lot of fun. You can really get creative in the wedding scripts on a lot of these themed weddings much more so than you can on a regular wedding.
Well, we're almost out of time, Keith. And I know that people who are listening to this, there's a possibility that they would want to reach out to you. What's the best way for them to contact you.
Keith Carson 28:19
They can either call me at 352-541-1332 or email me at Keith@KeithCarsonweddings.com. or message me on Facebook. I'm always happy to to help and lend advice. And I learned probably just as much by talking to people as I do in helping people.
Well, that's brilliant. All right, everybody. That's the way this works at the Wedding Ceremony Podcast. Remember, you can listen to our episodes if you want to, on our website, WeddingCeremonyPodcast.com. all the episodes are archived chronologically. So the most recent one is always at the top. We've added transcripts for the most recent episodes. And you also if you want to can look up the wedding ceremony podcast in the Apple Store. And then you can subscribe, which would be great because every time we post a new episode, it'll automatically come into your world. That also is where if you want to you can leave us a review, because that's how people find new content. And there's a lot of people out there in the wedding world that I think would have a lot of fun listening to the wedding ceremony podcast. We want to thank the incredible musicians that play our theme music the dacapoplayers.com. Remember that JP'S books are in the Amazon store and in the Kindle store in Amazon. For communications coaching His website is thebusinessofconfidence.com. His wedding website is jprweddings.Com. Mine is ReverendClint.com or ClintHufft.com for all of the things that I do. That's it for this episode of the wedding ceremony podcast. This is Clint on behalf of JP and Keith, we will see you next time.