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Published: Friday, Jan. 24th, 2020

...So What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?

Wedding officiants devote countless hours to thoughtfully crafting the perfect wedding ceremony. They strive to tell meaningful stories of love and commitment, and they pour their own hearts and souls into the wedding ceremonies they perform.

 

Yet they tend to be the last vendors to get booked, and some of the least appreciated at the end of the big day. (Because they just have to ask the couple to say “I do,” then sign the license to get on to the party, right? )  
 
In an effort to raise awareness about how significant – and involved – the role of the wedding officiant can be, we'd like to share with everyone what an officiant really does.
 

 

 

Facetime, FaceTime, & More Facetime

 

By ‘facetime,’ we meet both literally and technologically. A sizable chunk of a wedding officiant’s time is devoted solely to meeting with the couple to get to know them. These face-to-face hours are spent having honest discussions about ceremony expectations and what will work best for everyone - spiritually and practically. 

 

With the help of technology, officiants can meet easily with couples in person, over the phone, or by using video-conferencing technology like Zoom, Skype, GoogleMeet, or FaceTime. 

 

 All wedding officiants check in with their couples at least once before the ceremony, but most have follow-up sessions on a regular basis.  Tailoring the wedding ceremony script means learning about their shared hopes and values, their worldviews, what they love most about each other – and more. Only then can the officiant finally put his or her final drafting hours into the completed ceremony script. 

 

For this reason, and because the wedding ceremony reflects so much about the couple and their celebration as a whole, many couples find that their officiant becomes an important figure and part of their wedding planning process.
 

 

Researching, Writing, & Revising

 

Officiants spend a large amount of time writing, revising, and rehearsing ceremony scripts. They spend hours behind the scenes to write the perfect script – pulling information and heartfelt quotes from their notes and other inspirational readings and books, and from some of the couples’ very own anecdotes and stories.

 

Officiants work hard to incorporate a couple’s combined personality and styles into the ceremony details. This is a rewarding process, but it isn’t easy! It means they have to ask the right questions (and remember or write down the answers!) and gain enough insight from the couple to properly tell their one-of-a-kind love story – and then put it in words, in just the right way.

 

Related: Writing Tips: It’s Personal… Putting the “You” into a Wedding Ceremony
 

 

 

A wedding officiant completes the marriage license.

 

 

 

 

Logistics & Legalities

 

Each state has different requirements for wedding officiants (and some public and private institutions have their own requirements, too!). Because of this, officiants understand how important it is to stay on top of local policy changes, minister credential updates, or any other new officiant registration requirements. 

 

No matter where the officiant is located, staying abreast of all the logistics means:

 

  • Knowing legal obligations (in each and every state where they’re performing marriage)
  • Ordering credentials and documentation
  • Completing any required local registration (or making sure their registration is still valid, if they’ve already registered in the past)
  • Confirming with couples that they know where and when to pick up their marriage license, who will return it, and reviewing its policies together
  • Making copies of the completed ceremony script and wedding vows - including printed and digital back-ups
  • Filing the completed marriage license and making copies for everyone
  • Ordering gifts, decorative marriage certificates, and personalized keepsakes for couples
     

 

Traveling

 

Wedding officiants are always on the go, running around from one place to another throughout the ceremony planning process and on the big day.

 

Between flying and driving to and from meetings, work spaces, and networking events (like open houses, bridal shows, and wedding conferences and expos), to industry workshops and wedding venues (many of which are remote or far from home) – the time and miles really add up! 

 

Some officiants advertise themselves as ‘mobile wedding officiants,’ and specialize in unique weddings-on-the-go! These officiants sometimes have a speciality vehicle that converts into a mini mobile wedding chapel, or travel with couples to distant locations to perform destination and adventure ceremonies.

 

Other officiants travel to a couple’s home or local cafe for a simple elopement or marriage license signing ceremony. These types of mobile officiants make getting married easier for couples with limited schedules or transportation options. 
 

 

Ongoing Education & Networking

 

Wedding officiants are working harder than ever to stay on top of the wedding industry – and that means putting a considerable amount of time and energy toward learning about marketing and wedding trends, attending networking events, and managing websites, emails, phone calls, and social media. 

 

Staying connected requires reading industry-related articles on wedding blogs and in wedding magazines, participating in online forums with other vendors, responding to and submitting queries, and subscribing to industry newsletters and emails. 

 

Subscribe to the American Marriage Ministries' monthly newsletter. 

 

It can also mean hours spent intentionally networking on social media – creating content and hosting live stream interviews and check-ins with prospective couples, and collaborating other officiants on Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat, and Facebook/ Meta – and maintaining a visible online presence through a personal website and online portfolio. 

 

Related: How to Start a Website for Your Wedding Officiant Business
 

 

Rehearsing & the Performing the Ceremony

 

Any good wedding officiant knows how crucial a real-time rehearsal is. This, however, takes up just as much time as it does to perform the actual ceremony - if not more. Rehearsals - even when there’s a pro running the show - require additional time and patience.

 

And this doesn't just include the time that the officiant stands and speaks. Officiants spend a ton of time preparing, practicing, and getting ready before the rehearsal, just like they do before the main event.
 

 

Guests raise their glasses during a wedding toast.

 

 

Public Speaking & Wedding Toast Coaching

 

Long gone are the days of corny, inappropriate frat house jokes from the Best Man, Bridesmaid, or Best Mate. Now, loved ones are reaching out to wedding officiants to help them write their wedding speeches!  

 

Wedding attendants and special guests (such as parents and siblings) often reach out to officiants for their guidance and expertise to help them gain confidence in public speaking and choosing the right words to say.

 

(Why? So they can positively nail their speech or toast in front of 200 strangers, and do justice to the meaningful words they’d otherwise struggle to get out.)

 

This means that many wedding officiants are finding themselves hired for the same event by not only the couple – but one of their friends or family members, too!
 

 

Premarital Counseling & Communication Coaching 


While this isn’t a typical responsibility of most wedding officiants, many officiants undergo training and educational courses in order to offer premarital coaching and counseling – especially in those states where counseling is incentivized for couples.

 

These wedding officiants truly have two full-time jobs: officiant and premarital coach.

 

 

 

...That’s a lot of work! 

 

But it’s all worth it. Officiating is the best job around. 

 

Now, rinse and repeat this list – sometimes with additional tasks and even more couples – and you’ve got yourself one very, very busy individual.

 

That said, it’s easy to see why so many wedding officiants maintain relationships with their couples long after the wedding day... and why loved ones are so frequently asked to step into such an honorable and worthy role. It’s a job unlike any other, and incredibly rewarding.
 

 

Get ordained online with AMM and start performing weddings for friends & family. 

 


 

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Updated March, 2022

 

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