So you’ve tapped your friend or family member to officiate for your wedding. It would be an honor, certainly. And quite a responsibilty. Here is a a comprehensive guide for what it takes to be exceptional in this esteemed role. Consider three important components: Authority, Capability, and Eloquence. Think A-C-E.
Who Can Perform the Ceremony?
In the United States, those who can legally perform weddings are a county clerk, judge, justice of the peace, or an ordained minister/member of the clergy. Despite popular belief, ship captains are not officially recognized in the US as having the authority to perform a wedding.
How Can a Friend Perform a Ceremony?
A friend or family member must be ordained for the purpose of serving as an officiant. Also, make sure to check on your local government’s requirements. A multi-denominational organization such as the Universal Life Church makes it easy to become ordained online – just tell your honored officiant to go the ULC website and follow the prompts. Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and The Rock have done it! Imagine, Reverend Rock…
What Are My Officiant’s Official Duties?
The two main responsibilities of the officiant are performing the wedding ceremony and completing the marriage license paperwork.
What Qualities Should My Officiant Possess?
Whether you choose a professional or a friend, your officiant should possess qualities that make him or her the perfect fit for your wedding. Of course, “perfect fit’ is very subjective. Yet, it is worthwhile mentioning that exceptional officiants will possess the following qualities: dependable, enthusiastic, genuine, compassionate, and confident.
What Skills Make My Officiant Up to the Task?
Less subjective is the skill set of exceptional officiants. The task should be approached like a job – not in the sense of drudgery, rather with a sense of integrity. To successfully fulfill the duties that come with this job, the officiant should be quite proficient with these skills: timely communication, organization, initiative, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
What about Eloquence?
Eloquence is described as “fluency and power to stir emotions.” A wedding ceremony seems like a good place to practice such moving speech! Your officiant’s goal may not be to rally troops to battle, persuade a jury, or secure a sale, but, in a wedding, the words your officiant delivers should be heartfelt, to have authority and impact, to move people.
How Can My Officiant Prepare?
Before the wedding day, have your officiant PRACTICE the script. Remind your officiant to do the following in preparation for the big day:
- Say the words out loud, project your voice.
- Note what words and phrases need emphasis.
- Get an understanding of the general tone of the script.
- Visualize standing in position and be poised.
- Make eye contact.
- Deliver the words in a measured, but natural pace.
- Speak from the chest and throat, not the teeth.
- Be sincere, funny, whatever matches the narrative.
Is It OK for My Officiant to GO Off Script?
The officiant is speaking on your behalf, representing you! You were thoughtful in composing your ceremony words with Wedwordy, choosing passages carefully and intentionally. We recommend staying ON script. A professional officiant can deftly handle the occasional ad lib when appropriate, but especially for novice speakers, the script provides a level of security. Avoid the embarrassment of an inappropriate story or joke by your officiant friend: remind them to stay on script, that the wedding day is your day, not open mic night at a comedy club!
Here is a link to The Officiant’s Checklist by Wedwordy, containing 30 tasks and reminders from pre-wedding to post-wedding. A special shout out to Tan Weddings & Events for their expertise with this blog post. They have professionally presided over a thousand weddings!
Photo Credit | En Pointe Photography