Short answer: it depends. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to who should write the wedding ceremony. Every couple, every situation, and every ceremony is different. Since we’re particularly close to the officiating side of the wedding world, we used to assume that the ceremony was almost always written by the friend or family member who was being asked to perform the ceremony: the officiant.
However, what we have found over the years is that the couple often wants to write their own ceremony.
That said, it’s still worth pointing out a few things to help you decide who picks up the pen and who delivers the ceremony. Even if the officiant is going to write the bulk of the wedding ceremony, it will make their life easier (and the ceremony better) if the the couple is involved in the ceremony creation process.
Basically, a good ceremony starts and ends with teamwork, so settle in!
Before crafting the ceremony, it helps for the couple and their officiant to get to know each other (if they do not already). A lot of the most inspired wedding decisions are based on a gut feeling, but that only happens if folks are really in tune with what’s going on. That’s precisely why so many couples are reaching out to friends and family members to perform their ceremonies - it might even be why you’re reading this article right now!
To make sure that you are assigning tasks to the right person, the couple and officiant should start by meeting early on to discuss the overall feel of the ceremony. This is a chance for the officiant to provide the couple with multiple options for reading, and other components so that the couple can select pieces that best fit them. (Need inspiration? Start here!) It’s also a chance for the couple to review and edit the ceremony, minus any private pieces (e.g. personalized vows - save those for the big day!), so the couple feels that the ceremony truly suits them.
Is it your first time officiating?
Don’t worry, we've got you covered! Get familiar with the ceremony structure and writing process early. (Our AMM-exclusive, in-depth, step-by-step guidebook to creating ceremonies Asked to Officiate is an incredible resource for getting started!)
If the couple is writing the wedding ceremony, it takes some of the pressure off the friend or family member. However, just because the officiant is not writing the ceremony doesn’t mean that he or she is out of the picture. It's important that the couple still includes them in the ceremony creation process, since the officiant will have to read the words that were written for them with proper emotion and conviction on the Big Day.
Making sure that everyone is grooving to the same beat, figuratively, can be accomplished by getting everyone together nice and early - ideally, several months before the ceremony - to discuss the feel they are going for. This meeting is a chance to share their vision for their ceremony, and make sure that everyone understands how it is going to flow. Be sure to plan for one final get-together shortly before the wedding day for a final review together so that everyone is (literally) on the same page with the ceremony.
A quick word of caution to the officiants reading this: it is much harder to deliver words that don’t fit who you are. You aren’t reading Shakespeare in English class; this is a ceremony, and you are the emcee. You’ve gotta be into it!
The reality is that the officiant has perspective on the couple’s relationship that he or she might be best equipped to communicate. But in the end, the ceremony is going to be a collective effort, with everyone doing what they do best.
That said, we cannot stress enough the importance of preparation when it comes to creating the ceremony. Whether you’re on your own for the majority of the ceremony or working with the couple’s detailed vision and instruction, our popular wedding ceremony creation and delivery book Asked to Officiate is an invaluable resource.You don’t get another chance to get it right - so do your homework!