Did I Just Say That? -- 3 Ways to Handle Wedding Ceremony Mistakes
Published: Friday, Oct. 4th, 2019
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!
But truthfully, 95% of the time, it is not the goof that matters, but how you handle it. So, here are some tips:
This is sometimes tough 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 the one mistake, you increase the likelihood of making more mistakes. If you have to, wait till you get to a natural pause point (e.g. the end of a paragraph), take a deep breath, quickly center yourself, and then move on.
Calmer than you are dude...
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 is no need to draw attention to a minor mistake, since in most cases, guests, and even the couple, probably didn’t even notice you made a mistake.
This is something I noticed first attending concerts, even one’s where I was very familiar with the artist and his or her music. You don’t notice mistakes because you’re showing up to enjoy the experience, not critique it! 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
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 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 handed the bride’s vows to the groom. (insert facepalm emoji) The groom then began to read them before realizing the mistake. Once it was clear that the groom was reading off the wrong page, the officiant calmly smiled, and said “whoops, let’s just start over with these vows instead.” as she exchanged the vow cards.
Stay calm, don’t draw unnecessary attention to the flub, keep a smile on your face, and move on. Because of how calmly she handled it, the mistake above hardly registered, and the ceremony was a huge success.
Just remember that as the officiant, everyone… the couple and the guests… are focused on you which means it is your responsibility to maintain the smoothness and happy tone of the ceremony, mistakes or no mistakes.