Published: Tuesday, Jan. 5th, 2021
How to Prepare to Perform a Wedding Ceremony
We all love a great party, but the most important part of a wedding is the ceremony and the marriage license that follows! Or put another way, a wedding without the ceremony and license isn't a legal marriage, it's just a really expensive party. And when your couple looks back at their wedding footage years later, what will they be focused on? The ceremony!
Many mistakenly believe that performing a wedding ceremony requires simply showing up on the right day to read a few sentences. However, just like a concert, play, or any other live performance, weddings (of any size!) require preparation.
Even a small, backyard ceremony - as simple as a short reading and a kiss - will require some forethought. Weddings are about the couple's story, however they want to tell it - and your job is to help your couple realize their dreams.
So, regardless of the scale or size of the ceremony, you still need to prepare. As a minister, your tasks can be divided into 3 types:
It's essential that you verify the legal and administrative requirements for ministers in the state and county where the wedding will take place. Getting ordained as an AMM Minister is the only registration required in many parts of the country, but a few states also require ministers to register with the government at the state or county level.
Next, your couple must apply for a marriage license, and as the minister, you will likely be responsible for returning that marriage license.
Don’t worry, we have all the local info you’ll need! Find out about minister registration in your state here, and get information on marriage license waiting periods, expiration, and return deadlines here.
Helping couples realize their dreams!
We can’t overstate the importance of preparing for your ceremony, and we’re glad you’re getting a head start! Ceremonies of all sizes take time to create, and you should start this process months in advance if possible.
(Read The Officiant Timeline for a quick overview of when each part of your preperation should happen.)
Ask the couple what they're looking for -- from ceremony length, to special readings and rituals, and everything in between. This information will help you find the right words and give the right performance. Even if your couple says, “Don’t worry, we’ll write the ceremony,” you still need to feel comfortable reading it. A conversation around tone and style is essential!
When you’re ready to start writing, AMM’s got your back. To help you find the right words, we've put together an expansive set of resources. Here on the AMM site, you’ll find writing guides, a library of sample ceremony scripts and templates, and real-world examples shared by couples and officiants on our Wedding Wall.
And don't forget to practice, practice, practice! You'll practice your presentation out loud while you fine-tune your ceremony script and later with the wedding party during the rehearsal.
Finally, it’s time for the wedding! At this point, you should have your script in hand, and you should have given it plenty of practice.
As the minister, you're in charge once the ceremony begins. You're responsible for providing direction to the audience, the wedding party, and your couple, and you have to give a compelling delivery... all while making sure not to forget any important details.
Have you ever been to a wedding where no one rises for the bride? Or forgets to sit down afterward the walk down the aisle? Or where the rings weren’t brought for the exchange, or an entire section of the ceremony was skipped? (We're sure you have... mistakes happen!)
Don’t worry, we can help you prepare and hopefully avoid all of these potential wedding day mishaps and blunders! Our wedding officiant training pages and Blog articles are full of useful tools to help you put all the pieces together, and keep them together for a spectacular ceremony delivery.
At American Marriage Ministries, we understand what goes into a ceremony and we've mastered it. Take advantage of our resources, we’re here to help!
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!