Emcee to Marriage Commissioner: NAIT instructor has successful side-gig marrying Albertans

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Arts & Life

Instructors having part-time jobs outside of the classroom isn’t unheard of, but one NAIT Radio and Television’s Instructor has a unique side hustle that many wouldn’t guess: he’s an ordained minister. Dave Sawchuk got into the marriage game after being an emcee for num erous weddings.  

“From 17 to mid 20s, all my friends got married … I went to radio school at 18 and I ended up emceeing every wedding I went to for about a decade … I don’t know how many weddings I emceed, probably 40, and that’s not an exaggeration,” explained Sawchuk.  

Sawchuk’s desire to move from emcee to marriage commissioner was prompted by attending “the worst wedding ceremony [he’d] ever seen.”  

“The commissioner mispronounced the name of the bride like three different times in three different ways … I remember being in the crowd of the ceremony, like cringing, absolutely cringing and feeling so terrible for my friend who was up there,” explained Sawchuk.  

“I remember being like, this can’t be the best that can be done … so it was kind of born out of curiosity more than anything.”  

Sawchuk then began the process to become a marriage commissioner. In Alberta, marriage commissioners are appointed by the Alberta Service Minister. Calls for applications will be announced depending on the need of the town. When Sawchuk initially applied, there was no need for Edmonton, so he was directed to essentially check back again later.

And he did. 

Sawchuk checked every four months, for five years, until there was an open call for applications. The competition was tough—Sawchuk remembers being told that there were only 15 or 20 spots for all of Alberta, and about 10 of them would be for Edmonton. More intimidating though, was the number of applicants. 

“I was told that 300 people or 400 people applied and they were going to whittle this down … so I went about my business.” 

He made it through the first-round personality tests, then through the second round where he was graded on a ceremony, and eventually, the layers of testing became too much. 

“I jumped through hoops for so long and at one point I turned to my wife, and I just said, ‘I’m done. Like, this is too much. All I want to do is do a good job for Albertans.’ And literally the day I said, ‘I’m done,’ they called and said, ‘We’re going to give you an appointment.’” 

Sawchuk was awarded a five-year appointment and since then, he’s created an Instagram account and website to market his services. He’s even married NAIT students and staff. 

“I’ve married at least two couples that have come out of Radio and Television, at least, and I’ve married at least two people that work here [at NAIT] and found out that I work here and I’m a Marriage Commissioner.” 

He considers being a marriage commissioner an honour and takes a personalized approach to marrying Albertans. “I don’t do copy and paste ceremonies … I meet with couples, I ask them questions, they tell me their life story, what was your first date like, what’s that thing you do when you’re away from friends and family … and then you know, I tell those stories to their gathered friends and family,” said Sawchuk. 

“That is just a powerful, powerful thing to be entrusted to do.” 

Sawchuk’s appointment was renewed for another five years, and he’s excited to continue. 

“I wanted to do it because I wanted people to have better … I just truly believe Albertans deserve excellent service in the moment when they go from being in love to committing to a live in love forever for the rest of their life.” 

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