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From Seasonal Masks to Extra Mics, 5 Things Officiants Can Do Right Now to Prepare for Fall & Winter Wedding Ceremonies

Published Tuesday, Sep. 29th, 2020

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

As the pandemic rolls on (and on) and summer sun gives way into fall, those of us in damper, colder climates face another period of adjustments. And so do wedding ceremonies. 


Not everyone loves an outdoor ceremony on a foggy fall day, or one surrounded by snow-covered hilltops, meaning that outdoor weddings will become less frequent. And with the pandemic creating a bottleneck in the wedding business, available venues will be more scarce than in years past, and couples will continue to pare down guest lists and get creative with wedding day details. 


(Read about shift weddings and other ways couples are approaching guest lists.)


One thing that isn’t changing? Couples are still getting married, and they still need the help of  you - their wedding officiant - to make the day memorable. In fact, most  couples will need you more than ever! A little communication, a good sense of humor and style, and some old fashioned preparation will help you to help them, making this year’s fall and winter ceremonies happy, safe, and filled with memories to cherish for years to come.


(Want to know how other officiants are responding to COVID-19? We did, too! We recently surveyed 864 officiants to learn how couples and officiants are adapting, and what that could mean for the future.)





Know What to Expect

Cervantes was right, being prepared really is half the victory... If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the rules and guidelines for indoor gatherings in your area. Check local government health websites to keep up with the rapidly changing guidelines. If the wedding’s booked at a conventional venue, you can visit their website to get an idea of how much space you’ll have for the ceremony. It’s true that the responsibility for safety and accommodation falls on the venue, but these steps will help you to provide clear information to guide the ceremony planning, minimizing a couple’s stress. Stay up to date!



Use Additional Mics

With a few extra feet between officiants and couples, it’s important to make sure everyone’s being heard by guests and captured clearly on recording devices. If the couple isn’t hiring a professional DJ or recruiting a friend with audio experience, make sure the audio setup doesn’t rely on a single microphone attached to the officiant’s lapel or clothing. Consider mic-ing one of the partners, too, or suggest the couple use a combination of lapel and handheld mics.


(Read Microphone Tips for Wedding Officiants and Couples.)



Expand Your Wardrobe

Fall and winter weddings give you an excuse to break out  a whole new set of fashionable wedding-day masks. If you have to wear ‘em anyway, they might as well be stylish and fun, right? Similar to ties, pocket squares, vests, and other wardrobe accents, wedding masks with subtle patterns, neutral and seasonal colors, and comfortable fabrics work best. They’ll be showing up in photos, so pick masks that compliment your outfit as a whole—your suit or dress, accessories, and shoes. There are an abundance of cuts and styles to choose from to help you look and feel your best, and you can even coordinate to the wedding colors or theme.


(Read What to Wear (and Not Wear) as a Wedding Officiant for an introduction to officiant attire basics.) 






Consider Length

The best ceremonies aren’t too short or too long… they’re just right. This is usually between 10 and 20 minutes for a small ceremony, providing just enough time for an engaging story of love and commitment, while offering a glimpse into a future that’s sealed with a kiss. But timing is even more important now, because reducing time spent indoors with others is one of the primary safety guidelines suggested to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Keep this in mind to craft a ceremony that’s compelling, personal, and gets to the point.


(We’ll even show you how to write a ceremony script in 9 simple steps.)



Communicate Your Boundaries Calmly 

Everyone has a different level of comfort in social situations right now. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of an upcoming wedding celebration, and it can be difficult to let a couple know what you are, and aren’t comfortable with when it comes to social distancing and group size. This is especially true if you’re new to officiating. Take some time to figure out how you feel about things, communicate any concerns you have about the ceremony’s set up in a calm and friendly way, and stay positive. 


(For engaged couples looking for tips on how plan your wedding ceremony with your officiant, read How to Work Best With Your Officiant.)




Keep learning! To be ready for anything the day might throw at you, read Asked to Officiate. It’s a step by step workbook, written and formatted for easy reference so that you can create a unique and perfect ceremony every time.


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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