This just in from the OC Register today:
The busiest man in the wedding biz
By ADAM GROPMAN
The busiest man in the wedding business, Alan Katz, starts a recent workday promptly at a 9 a.m. meeting with a middle-aged couple to talk nuptials.
This will be marriage No. 3 for both bride and groom, and they have teenagers they’d like to weave into the ceremony. Katz, a burly, ebullient 51 with a healthy head of black hair, suggests multiple ceremony styles and ideas. They seem pleased.
As they exit, another couple walks in off the street. These two want to marry on the spot; specifically, right here, inside Katz’s Long Beach wedding chapel.
So Katz does some of what Katz can do; he issues a license and performs the ceremony.
“Within 21.2 minutes they are on their way, happily married,” Katz says.
“At least, I hope happily.”
Next, Katz coordinates for a marriage license to be delivered to a Carnival cruise ship. After that he zips over to the Japanese Gardens to oversee a wedding on the picturesque footbridge. There, he performs a ceremony, has his picture snapped with the newlyweds, and does some obligatory post-event mingling.
Soon, Katz is on the freeway to Dana Point, stopping along the way in northern Orange County to deliver a singing telegram – a side venture of Katz’s in which he uses some of the same skills that he plies in his wedding business.
“The boyfriend just wanted a simple ‘I love you’ telegram sent to his girlfriend,” Katz explains.
“I assume he messed up in some way, but I didn’t want to pry. So I wore the giant heart costume over my shirt and tie and sang her some love songs.”
Singing done, Katz drives next to the Cannons Restaurant in Dana Point. This particular wedding is something he offered up in an auction to benefit the charity Wish Upon a Wedding, an organization that grants “wedding wishes” to people facing extreme life circumstances.
After a couple of post-ceremony appetizers, Katz jumps into his car, picks up a friend, and goes to see 80’s-era rocker Joe Jackson in downtown L.A.
Turns out, even Katz needs a break for creative inspiration.
On this day, Katz and his team performed seven other weddings in Temecula, Long Beach, Costa Mesa and Hacienda Heights.
At midnight, post Joe Jackson, Katz returns to his home in Long Beach. There, just before bed, he finishes his day by writing a ceremony for one of the four weddings he’s scheduled to perform the next day.
“I love every minute of it,” says Katz, owner and chief officiant of Great Officiants.
“A ceremony is going to be remembered for the ceremony, not the fancy party afterward.”
The best ceremonies are not just spoken, they are performed.
Katz has worked the lower rungs of Southern California’s performance industry for most of his adult life.
Born in the west San Fernando Valley, Katz moved to Long Beach with his mother following his parents’ divorce. By 16, still in school, he made his first stab at show business, performing on “The Gong Show.”
As a belcher.
“I burped the word ‘Mama.’ I burped the alphabet. I just … burped,” Katz says.
Then came stand-up. Then Santa Claus. Then he started singing telegrams, eventually creating a company to capitalize on that, Funny Farm Entertainment. The company remains active, singing a few telegrams a week.
Then, in 2002, some friends asked Katz to officiate their wedding.
He’s been performing weddings ever since.
He can do traditional, but he also offers themed ceremonies, including some billed as “Ozzy Osbourne,” “Elvis” and “Borat.” He does one-off weddings (such as a wedding at Anaheim Stadium, with Crackerjacks tossed into the audience), and, he adds, he thrives on the unexpected.
“I’ve had roosters run through the ceremony, helicopters circling overheard; arches falling over.”
At a dawn wedding held at Malibu’s Point Dume beach, a sea lion started walking toward the wedding party.
“I loudly asked the sea lion ‘Is it OK if we do a wedding here?’ When the sea lion roared back, Katz says he “took that as a ‘yes.'”
Katz’s Great Officiants can tap priests, rabbis and other religious leaders to perform ceremonies, but Katz says most of his clients prefer either a non-religious or lightly religious wedding. He adds that most are satisfied with Katz’s “minister” credentials.
“They need a company that’s willing to do a ceremony based in their love, not their belief.”
Katz, single, isn’t afraid of marriage, but he’s not necessarily great at it. He’s been divorced twice. He notes that marriage requires “work.”
He also owns up to one marriage-related service he cannot perform.
“Once, a couple called four hours after their ceremony saying they had made a mistake.”
“I told them ‘I am sorry, but you need to call a lawyer.'”
Contact the writer: 323-244-1496
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