Cate Schmiedt, pop-up wedding officiant
Cate Schmiedt, a self-described ‘funmaker,’ marries couples at a pop-up chapel
Cate Schmiedt is a woman of many talents. Seriously. So many.
During an hour-long conversation at Old Soul at 40 Acres in Oak Park, Schmiedt revealed she can cook, cater events, captain a boat, sew costumes and make cheese. She's got a degree in fine art. She's an ordained reverend. She performs in an American Tribal Style Belly Dance troupe. Oh yeah, and she can legally marry you at a moment's notice.
Schmiedt is the designated wedding celebrant for Unseen Heroes' pop-up wedding chapel at Display California in Oak Park, where couples can host marriages, vow renewals or “mock ceremonies” of any faith (or lack thereof) through March 22.
For weddings more planned than pop-up, Schmiedt can create custom experiences, including costumes and event planning. She's been known to officiate and cater the same wedding.
What do you call someone with such a large skill set and an even larger sense of enthusiasm? Schmiedt prefers the term “funmaker.”
“If there's something on [my website] that it doesn't say that I do, it doesn't mean that I don't do it or I won't teach myself how,” Schmiedt says. “I like the saying, ‘Just say yes and you'll figure it out later.'”
You officiated Mayor Kevin Johnson’s wedding at the pop-up chapel last month?
I remarried the mayor. They were renewing their vows. Maritza [Davis of Unseen Heroes] called me and asked if I could come in and do a last-minute renewal. So I came in and there was a woman who said she was the wedding coordinator.
She's like, “These vows. Everything really traditional.” So I went in the back to read through them and loosen up my voice and I heard Maritza say, “Oh! It's you!”
So I go out there and it's Mayor Johnson and Michelle Rhee. … And nobody knew. Michelle Rhee didn't even know. It was a surprise for her.
Were you nervous?
I was nervous! I was like, “It’s the mayor.” We started and then restarted so his [assistant] could videotape us. It was cute. They'd been married for three years, he said. It was really short and I went grocery shopping afterward. It was a very strange day.
Is preparing a pop-up wedding different from regular ceremonies?
The other people I’ve married, I’ve known them pretty well. … For the pop-up, I’ve got three different scripts they can pick from and I put it in my little binder and put their names on it so I don’t forget. I don’t get to meet them ahead of time.
Are you a reverend of any particular tradition?
I was raised very Baptist, but now I consider myself non-denominational. I’ve learned a lot about different religions and there’s something to take away from all of them. I’m a Christian, but I would do any kind of ceremony. It doesn’t matter to me. I love everybody.
Is there anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable marrying?
I don’t think so. Except, I always worry that I’m going to marry somebody that shouldn’t really be getting married. Like, what if they get a divorce?
Your website says you’ll dress up like the priest from The Princess Bride.
I love dressing up in costumes!
Including the accent?
I could probably do the accent if they wanted. My birthday’s October 29, so I have always loved dressing up in costumes. I have a whole closetful. I don’t have the robe from Princess Bride, but I could find it. Or make it.
Have you married anyone while in costume?
I haven’t had to dress up yet, but I would love to. “Can you dress like the chief from Joe Versus the Volcano?” Yes!
What is a “funmaker”?
I started seeing a life coach for creative people because I quit my job at the state. I couldn’t take it anymore. This was last summer. She specializes in creatives, which is good because I needed a goal, a job-life intersection. She made me look at my values and a big one was fun. People always tell me that I’m fun, so I’m a funmaker.
Anything you would caution couples against when planning a wedding?
I would say don’t get too much input from other people. Pick a few people you trust who know you really well and then try to set your boundaries with others who want to “help.”