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4 Tips for New Ministers

Published Monday, Jan. 4th, 2021

Don't worry, we're here to help!

Chances are you’re reading this because you were asked, “Will you marry us?”


In other words, you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding. Will you take on this responsibility?


At this point, you might have already said yes, and the reality of the task at hand is setting in. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! It's a true honor to be asked to officiate, and as long as you follow these 4 suggestions, it will be an uplifting experience that you'll never forget.



how long does it take to plan a wedding, perform a marriage ceremony


Plan ahead -- for yourself and for your couple.



1) Don’t Procrastinate!


You agreed to take on this responsibility, so take it seriously! It takes time to prepare a wedding ceremony, especially if you want to personalize it with stories and readings that speak to your couple. You need to plan ahead -- for yourself and for your couple. Nobody wants the stress of getting close to the big day without having a plan for the ceremony.


In practical terms, this means giving yourself a few extra days or weeks than you think you'll need, in case you miss a deadline. Schedule your final review of the script a few weeks out, so that you're not making revisions on the way to the ceremony.


(Read The Officiant Timeline to get your ducks in a row from day one.)



2) Remember, It’s All About Your Couple.


This is the time to put your ego aside, work with your couple, and let go of any ideas that conflict with their vision for the ceremony. As their officiant, your job is to take your couple’s vision and translate it into a compelling ceremony script. Make sure that you can deliver the words with enthusiasm and clarity. Your dialogue and performance must not shift the focus away from or embarass your couple.


Before agreeing to officiate, first consider what the couple wants and then decide if you're right for the job. If they want a religious ceremony, can you speak the sacred words with conviction? If they want a Star Wars wedding, will the force be with you? Ask yourself these questions before you get in over your head. (If you've already said yes, ask yourself these questions now and speak up right away if you've changed your mind, to give your couple plenty of time to find their perfect officiant.)



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Whose day is it? The couple's, of course!



3) Practice!


Without question, the old adage ‘practice makes perfect,’ applies to delivering a memorable wedding ceremony. The more comfortable you are with the words you'll deliver, the better. Memorization is not necessary or even recommended, but the more you practice, the more you'll be able to convey emotion during the ceremony. Plus, as you practice, you'll find ways to refine your delivery and script, making the ceremony sound and flow even better. 


Use your phone to record yourself reading the ceremony. As you play it back, make sure you're getting it right and identify any weak spots. Highlight and correct the issues, then repeat the process one more time for good measure. Trust us, there’s no such thing as too much practice, and your hard work will show in your confident delivery when the big day arrives.


(Read How to Revise the (Bad) First Draft of a Wedding Ceremony.)

4) Most Importantly, Have Fun!


Creating and delivering a wedding ceremony requires effort, but it's an amazing and rewarding experience that you will never forget. Let yourself take it all in. Have fun!


(Watch the interview: AMM Minister Samuel Heath has a calling: To operate on love and to officiate the hell out of weddings.)



Want to read more on preparing for and officiating your first wedding? We wrote the book on it! Check out Asked to Officiate in our bookstore for a step-by-step adventure through the officiating process, from saying Yes to officiating to the wedding day pronouncement! 


Cover image of AMM's wedding ceremony planning guide called Asked to Officiate, with step by step instructions on how to write and deliver a ceremony as a wedding officiant. Light blue cover with white lettering






Asked to officiate?  


You only get one shot to deliver a perfect wedding ceremony.


There’s no ‘take-two’ when it comes time for a couple to say ‘I do’--  Wedding officiants only get one shot to perform a perfect wedding ceremony. 







Give yourself the tools and training you deserve to succeed as a wedding officiant, so that you can stand beside the lucky couple with complete confidence on their big day.





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.

Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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