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Who’s Writing the Ceremony? 4 Paths to the Perfect Script.

Published Saturday, Dec. 19th, 2020

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

When it’s time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, try one of these 4 methods to write the perfect ceremony.


At a certain point in the wedding planning process, the question will come up: Who’s going to write the ceremony? Most couples know how they want their ceremony to feel and have a few rituals or readings in mind, but these loose ideas are a far cry from a written, ready-to-go script. Traditionally, this compositional work would be left to the officiant, but couples have a few more options these days.


As an officiant, you must be ready to help, regardless of how your couple chooses to approach their ceremony. Whether you write the ceremony script or not, you must be enthusiastic about the words you speak, because you want your couple to be happy! 


Let’s explore four ways to arrive at the perfect wedding ceremony, and who does what in each scenario.


1. Find a Pre-Written Ceremony

It’s easy to find prepared wedding ceremonies with a quick internet search! If you're looking for a ceremony to use as-is (or with only minor modifications), you have a lot to choose from. In fact, there are so many that the tough part will be weeding through them to find quality examples.


With this in mind, we’ve published plenty of resources to help you out -- the AMM Wedding Ceremony Script Library is a great place to start if you’re looking for completed ceremony template examples.


Every couple and every wedding is unique, so if you’re looking for a perfect pre-written ceremony to use as-is, you’ll be searching a while. It's possible to use an existing ceremony as-is, but anticipating a bit of personalization will make your search a little easier. We recommend that you browse examples, find a ceremony you like, and modify from there -- copy and paste, or completely rewrite!


Ironically, pre-written examples tend to work best for either informal weddings or the most traditional weddings. Couples who are eloping or who want a short and sweet ceremony are happy to hear the important words and quickly dispatch with the formalities. At the other extreme, precise wording holds spiritual significance in many religious ceremonies, so a specific script is necessary.


We suggest you find a few examples and let the couple decide which script (or scripts) speak to them. If they like more than one, you can combine the parts they liked most from each.



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You don't need to reinvent the wheel -- prewritten scripts are a great way to start! 


2. Let the Couple Do It!


If your couple tells you they’ve got it under control and will be writing the ceremony themselves, that's great! Many couples who ask a friend to officiate decide to take on this responsibility. They want a personalized ceremony, and don’t want to burden you with a ton of work. Let them go for it!


However, your job as the officiant isn't over just because they're writing the ceremony. You'll still need to establish a timeline with them, to make sure that everything's under control. After all, you're the one who has to conduct the ceremony! You'll need to proofread and edit the script once your couple is done, add in any needed detailed stage directions, and practice, practice, practice before the wedding. You don't want to find out that your couple didn’t finish writing the ceremony and have them shift the responsibility to you at the last minute. 


(Read The Officiant Timeline to learn more.)


3. DIY


It's very common for Ministers to compose the wedding ceremony script. Whether you knew you'd be writing the ceremony from the start, or took on more than you bargained for, it's time to get writing.


We always recommend that you start by meeting with the couple to gather details. Listen to all of their ideas, take notes, and try to establish the basic ceremony structure at this meeting. Draw up an outline of the ceremony, and use this meeting to make sure that all of your couple’s ideas can be fit into the ceremony plan. It’s tough, but you may find while creating an outline that some ideas will need to be cut. At the end of this meeting, you should have a clear idea of how to approach the ceremony.


With the outline in hand, start looking for ceremony examples to borrow from. AMM’s resources are always a good bet, but an online search will turn up countless examples. You want to look for ceremonies that have the right tone for your couple, and ceremonies with the right sense of humor or spiritual language. Once you have a good collection of examples, copy, paste, and edit parts from each until your new patchwork ceremony is unique to your couple and steeped in (an appropriate amount of) tradition.




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Take detailed notes when you meet with the couple -- great ceremonies are all about the details. 


4. Hire a Writer


Many people won't have considered hiring a professional writer, but it might be the best option if you and your couple aren’t experienced writers. Like any skill, creative writing requires time and practice to master, so just hire someone if you don't want to (or have time to) agonize over the process.


Professional officiants have lots of practice writing ceremonies and many are happy to take on writing gigs if they have room in their schedule. Some professionals even offer a menu of services, and can provide an option for straightforward, building-block type ceremonies or something written entirely from scratch. Find someone whose style matches want the couple wants to ensure the ceremony feels personal and meaningful.



Whichever method you use -- Communicate!


At the end of the day, 'Who's writing the ceremony?' is a decision for your couple to make. Plan to meet with them as early as possible and discuss everything they have in mind for the ceremony. They’ll know what they want. Listen to them, and help them make the ceremony amazing!



For more help preparing for your first ceremony as an officiant, visit How to Prepare for Officiating a Wedding Ceremony on our Officiant Training page.

Danny Noonan
Danny Noonan

Staff Writer

Danny spends his time staying up late listening to dusty records in his ever-expanding collection, and waking up early to hike in the majestic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. He says that the only experience better than officiating someone else's wedding was his own wedding.

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