...So What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?
Published: Friday, Jan. 24th, 2020
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 say to “I do,” then sign the license to get onto the partying, right?)
In an effort to recognize how significant – and involved – the role of the wedding officiant is, we'd like to share with everyone what an officiant really does.
FaceTime (And More FaceTime)
By FaceTime, we meet both literally and technologically. A sizable chunk of time is devoted solely to meeting with the couple to get to know them. Hours are spent having honest discussions about ceremony expectations and what will work best for everyone - spiritually and practically.
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 of the couple and the 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 so much time writing, revising, and going through ceremony scripts. They spend hours pulling info and quotes from handwritten and typed notes, inspirational readings or books, and some of the couples’ very own anecdotes.
Officiants work hard to incorporate a couple’s combined personality in the ceremony details, and it’s easier said than done. It means they have had to ask the right questions (and remember or write down the answers!) and gained enough insight from the couple to properly tell their one-of-a-kind story – then put it in words in just the right way.
Logistics & Legalities
Each state (and even some public and private institutions) has different requirements for wedding officiants, so officiants know how important it is to stay on top of any local policy changes, credential updates or new 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 it 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, and reviewing its policies together
● Making copies of the completed ceremony script - including printed and digitial back-ups
● Filing the completed marriage license and making copies for everyone
● Ordering gifts and personalized keepsakes for couples
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, various work spaces, networking events like open houses, workshops, and expos/shows, and different wedding venues (many of which are remote or far from home) – the time and miles really add up!
Ongoing Education and 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.
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 it'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; like you, officiants spend a ton of time preparing, practicing, and getting ready beforehand.
Public Speaking and Wedding Toast Coaching
Long gone are the days of corny, inappropriate frat house jokes from the Best Man. Now, loved ones are reaching out to wedding officiants, enlisting 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 that Best Man speech and 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!
While this isn’t a typical responsibility of most wedding officiants, many officiants undergo training and educational courses in order to offer premarital counseling - especially in some states where it's incentivized for couples. These wedding officiants truly have two full-time jobs: officiant and premarital counselor.
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.
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