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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 17, 2009 12 years ago

Barefoot Weddings

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

10 a.m. Thursday, June 11, 2009. Nancy Taussig’s tally for the weddings, commitment ceremonies and vow renewals she has officiated to date: 915.

Taussig, owner of Barefoot Weddings, is having her strongest June yet — something she says could be attributed to the slow economy, with fewer brides opting for destination weddings in Hawaii and the Caribbean.

At this rate, Taussig estimates she will officiate her 1,000th ceremony in early 2010. She might even offer a special on her Web site,, in which she’ll perform that ceremony for free. Of course, Taussig won’t know which ceremony will be No. 1,000 until the actual day of the event.

Although most of the weddings she performs are planned in advance, Taussig is also accustomed to officiating weddings with just two or three hours notice. She has married brides wearing everything from a traditional wedding gown to a white bikini and cowboy boots.

“I deal with whatever comes up,” Taussig said. “I’ve seen almost everything that can happen.”

There was the bride who dropped her engagement ring on the beach during her wedding. (A groomsman later found it.) There was the 92-year-old widowed groom who couldn’t get the wedding ring from his prior marriage off his finger. (His 78-year-old bride was fine with that.) And, although she has never had a bride or groom left at the altar, one bride, who wouldn’t make eye contact with the groom during the rehearsal and arrived late to the ceremony, made Taussig a bit nervous.

Taussig became a notary public in 1984, while managing an executive suite on St. Armands Circle, and began to consider performing ceremonies around 1987, when she and her husband, Don, were married by a notary public. Florida is one of three states to allow notary publics to marry couples.

Taussig officiated her first wedding in 1990 for her hairdresser, who wanted a notary public for the ceremony. Approximately one year later, she took a speaking class to become comfortable with speaking in front of groups.

A few of Taussig’s observations from 19 years of officiating ceremonies: Usually when the groom cries, the bride does not. Flower girls and ring bearers over age 4 are best. And “bridezillas” at beachfront weddings are relatively rare.

“Most beach brides are pretty relaxed,” Taussig said.

Approximately half of the ceremonies Taussig performs are on the beach, which means that one of her greatest challenges is something beyond her control — the weather — although Taussig leaves it up to the couple to make backup plans.

At Barefoot Weddings, Taussig has been primarily a one-woman show since she started the business. She does get help from her husband, Don, who accompanies her to nighttime weddings as her “bodyguard” and also carries the sound equipment.

Taussig has been involved with the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce since 1994. After nearly two decades of pronouncing couples husband and wife, she was waiting for a pronouncement of her own.

She had been nominated three times and even called the chamber’s “Susan Lucci” by another member.

Sure enough, it came Thursday, June 11, at the Small Business Week Annual Awards Breakfast, when chamber leaders finally pronounced Barefoot Weddings the 2009 Small Business of the Year in the 10 or Fewer Employees category.

Address: P.O. Box 25421, Sarasota
Start date: Officiated first wedding in 1990
Number of employees when started: One
Number of employees today: One
Advice: “Find something you love to do because you’re going to be spending a lot of hours doing it.”
Biggest challenge: The weather
Where do you see the business in one year? Taussig expects to have officiated her 1,000th ceremony by next year.


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