How to Officiate a Friend’s Wedding

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One of the trends I see is couples asking a friend or relative to be the officiant of their wedding ceremony. (If that’s you, you might be wondering how to perform a wedding ceremony and what to say. I will try to help you.)

First, think about whether you want to make an introductory announcement. Often this is the “turn your cell phones” off one. Personally, I don’t love it. I think people either know or they are so clueless, they won’t think it applies to them. I’d rather start with a statement that welcomes the guests and maybe talks about love or something more aspirational and less procedural.

Early in your script, include “PLEASE BE SEATED” in big bold letters. Most guests will stand for the bridal entrance. And I’ve seen a lot of officiants who get so excited to get into their ceremony, that they forget to invite the guests to sit. And it’s awkward for those guests to stay standing and standing.

Personalize, personalize, personalize. The ONE thing that everybody there will have in common will be that they know the couple. So the guests will be eager to hear you talk about them. I don’t think you can go wrong talking about their story, their personal qualities, their families, their relationship. (And on the flipside, I’m sort of sorry to report is that I have seen some officiants who tell so much of their own story that it comes across as though they feel the wedding is about them. It’s not.)

Minimize the cliches/passages downloaded from the Internet. You can find a lot if you search for wedding ceremony scripts. But don’t rely so heavily on them that you create a boring ceremony.

This is totally my personal opinion (and arguably a very shallow one), but I’ve always preferred printed paper for the script over a tablet. Both in the moment and in the photos, there’s just something way more personal about holding a notebook and turning a page than swiping a tablet. And there are no issues of glare.

My recommended order of the events at the end is:
• Vows. Having seen both ways a lot of times, I’m partial to allowing the couple to say their vows directly to each other. It always feels more sincere to me that way. But, certainly, if you or they want to do the “repeat after me” that’s an option.
• Rings
• Pronouncement that they are married, invitation to kiss. (Super Pro Hint: – before offering this opportunity, take two or three steps to the side. This way, the photo of their first kiss will be just the two of them, not the three of you.)
• After the kiss, let the couple face the guests
• Pause to make sure the bride or brides gets the bouquet back in her hands
• Introduce them as a married couple for the first time and end with their names.
• Immediately upon hearing the names, the DJ plays upbeat an upbeat “recessional” song. (Some suggestion of that are in this Spotify playlist of wedding songs to walk out to after the ceremony.)
• Allow wedding party and first row to come down the aisle. You could gently guide them.
• Once they are down the aisle, make eye contact with the DJ who will lower the music and you can tell the rest of the guests where to go for cocktails or whatever else is next.

Make sure your mic is off and then enjoy the rest of the wedding. You will have earned it!

There is a good article on more of the performance-art piece of this. It’s here.  

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