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Did I Just Say That? -- 3 Ways to Handle Wedding Ceremony Mistakes

Published Friday, Oct. 4th, 2019

Emoji of a woman with dark hair and a purple shirt holding her hand up to her forehead to express dismay at a mistake... like saying, "UGH" or "DOH!"

Everyone makes mistakes! Here's how to handle them on the wedding day.



It happens to the best of us… We make a goof while delivering a wedding ceremony. It may be missing a word (or words), it may be pronouncing something incorrectly, or perhaps it’s a matter of losing our place in the ceremony.


We’ve all been there. You’re not alone, so if it happens, don’t worry!


Truthfully, 95% of the time, it's not the goof that matters, but how you handle it. So, here are some tips for handling a mistake during the wedding ceremony...




How to handle a mistake when officiating a wedding ceremony 


Stay Calm


This is sometimes tough to do, but if you realize you made a mistake or lose your place, staying calm will prevent you from making more mistakes. If you let yourself get flustered by a single mistake, you increase the likelihood of making several more.


If you have to, wait till you get to a natural pause point (for example, the end of a paragraph), take a deep breath, quickly center yourself, and then move on.


Related: Wedding Ceremony Stage Fright: Tips for officiants (and couples)


Keep Going


In addition to staying calm, if you missed a word or said something incorrectly and it is not absolutely necessary that you go back and reread it, don’t


During a wedding ceremony, there's no need to draw attention to a minor mistake. In most cases, most people (guests and the couple included) probably didn’t even notice you made a mistake. 


This is something we first noticed while attending concerts -- even concerts where we were very familiar with the artist and their music. Think about the last time you attended a concert or live performance: You probably didn't notice any mistakes at events like these, because you were showing up to enjoy the experience, not critique it!


Even in everyday interactions, we all make mistakes when speaking to each other, and they actually occur so naturally and frequently that we don’t notice them. 


The same rule applies to wedding ceremonies. Guests are there to celebrate with the couple. That’s the most important thing, not a grammatical error, or a stutterer, or an omission. So don’t have unrealistic expectations… as long as you are effectively communicating the shared love of the couple, that’s all that matters! Just keep going...



Don’t Draw Attention 


Don't draw more attention to the mistake. This means that if you do need to repeat words or a line, keep a smile on your face and just do it. You really don’t want to try to explain why, or waste any more time. Making a big deal out of a mistake will only draw attention to the goof and thus make you more nervous. Again, you’re probably much more aware of it than others.


One of our ministers told us a story about a time when she accidentally handed the bride’s vows to the groom. (*Insert facepalm emoji*) The groom began to read them right away, before realizing the error.


Once it was clear that the groom was reading off the wrong page, the officiant just smiled, and said, “Whoops, let’s just start over with these vows instead!”, as she exchanged the vow cards, and everything continued smoothly! Because of how calmly she handled it, the mistake hardly registered, and the ceremony was a huge success. 



So the next time you find yourself faced with a wedding mishap, remember that it's easy to avoid it turning into a disaster...


Don’t draw unnecessary attention to the flub, keep a smile on your face, and move on. 


Just remember that as the officiant, everyone's eyes are focused on you -- the guests and the couple! This means it's your responsibility to maintain the smoothness and happy tone of the ceremony, mistakes or no mistakes.



Updated June 10, 2021


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Lewis King
Lewis King

Lewis is AMM's executive director. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling, restocking the sparkling water, and watering the office plants.

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