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Tips for Officiating a Wedding

May 24th, 2020

It’s become really common for couples to have a good friend or family member officiate their big day, so for those “non-professional” officiants, we wanted to provide some guidelines and tips for officiating a wedding. This is a great way to make your ceremony even more personal and unique, but officiating isn’t an easy task.

If you are considering having a friend or family member officiate your wedding day, check out this post about how to make that decision, and if you’ve already planned for a non-professional officiant, we’ve listed our tips for officiating a wedding successfully on the big day!

Prep & Rehearse

  • Read through the ceremony script several times, out loud, before the rehearsal. Time how long it takes to get through the entire ceremony – it might end up a lot shorter or longer than you anticipated! Need ideas and tips on how to create a ceremony script? Click here.
  • It’s best to ensure that you know the order of the processional, where and when you will enter the ceremony area, what the cues are, what you are to do after the recessional and how the bridal party will stand or sit during the ceremony before the actual rehearsal. Your planner or coordinator will provide you this information ahead of time.
  • Attend the rehearsal and run through all of the elements of the ceremony so you and the bridal party are comfortable. Your planner or coordinator will be able to lead the rehearsal outline, and will offer the family and bridal party advice on their roles.

Be Professional

  • Show up to rehearsal and the wedding day on time – that means 30 minutes prior to the start time on the wedding day. This gives you enough time to get a mic (and test it) and to connect with the musicians prior to the start of the ceremony.
  • Ask the couple how they want you to dress – tux, or suit? What color? Bow tie or standard neck tie? Cover all the bases so you represent the couple and the wedding appropriately.
  • Use a professional notebook to hold your ceremony script – it is not okay to stand there struggling to read your phone, or reading from loose leaf paper. Bring a copy of the readings with you as well, in case the readers forget.

Details

  • Mark your spot on the floor for where to stand. The officiant is the first person to take their spot for the ceremony, leading the rest of the bridal party to follow suit. The officiant must be in the middle of the arch or arbor or designated space in order for the couple to be centered or the photographs will be off center.
  • As you ask the couple to have their first kiss, remove yourself from the immediate area so you are next to the best man during the kiss (and out of the photo!). Ask the couple during the rehearsal to hold their kiss for a few seconds to ensure a good photo is captured!

Legality

  • Ensure you’ve been officially ordained and registered within the state the ceremony will take place. The planner can provide you with this information or you can find it through the Secretary of State and probate court sites for your state and county.
  • Send in the appropriate paperwork after the ceremony, and leave the remaining paperwork with the couple.

Last, but not least, enjoy this honor you’ve been given by the couple!

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