Published: Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, 2021
Let's talk about how to deliver a wedding ceremony script!
One of the many questions that new ministers ask before performing a wedding is how to hold and deliver their script during the ceremony.
Script aesthetics are a matter of personal preference, and we'll get to those in a second, but there is one point we want to emphasize above all others...
(Bring a copy with you.)
At a wedding, there is no “take two” and there’s no one ready to shout your line if you forget it. And in many wedding ceremonies, the specific words hold significant meaning. You have to get things right the first time. This is not a situation you can ad-lib your way out of! So bring the entire ceremony plan with you in printed or written form, and use it as you go.
Some experienced performers and improv artists live to be on stage without a script, and if that describes you, then maybe we’ll make an exception. If this is the case, make sure that your couple knows you plan to memorize or ad-lib, and bring the entire ceremony in some printed or written form anyway as a backup.
With wedding stress and the emotions of the moment, it’s very tough to memorize and recall an entire ceremony, no matter how much you want to. That’s why we recommend using a written script.
Even talented public speakers can forget what to say during the ceremony when they try to memorize.
As long as you have a copy of the script, you’ll be alright, but don’t get on stage with loose sheets of paper. A couple of small pages or note cards can work for the vows, but printing the entire ceremony on a few sheets of standard 8.5" x 11" printer paper is not a good move.
It’s easy to fumble loose pages during the ceremony, especially at an outdoor wedding where there are breezes to contend with, and it’s just not a professional look.
We’ve outlined the most common options for outfitting your script on the big day, each with its pros and cons.
There aren’t any strict do or don’ts about this, so you'll want to choose an option that you find most comfortable.
1. Binder or Folder
A binder or folder makes it easy to keep your pages organized and provides a convenient way to keep track of other notes. When you’ve got your ceremony ready, print it out, put it in your binder or folder, and you’re good to go! And when it comes to printing the script, try to keep it to 2 pages so that you can open your folder and see the entire script without flipping pages.
Aesthetics are important, so it’s probably worth spending a little extra on a binder or folder with an elegant design. This is not the occasion for your unicorn-themed Lisa Frank binder… (or maybe it is?)
We recommend that you choose a dark-colored binder or folder, with a non-glossy finish - like a matte black or dark blue. White will reflect light from the sun and flash photography, and a vibrantly colored binder will stand out too much in pictures.
Some professional officiants prefer their binder color to match their outfit or the décor.
2. Place Your Script into a Book
Using a large hardcover book to hold your script is a great option. It’s a classy look and it’s comfortable to hold - plus, books are common objects and you can find one nearly everywhere. Make sure that your pages will fit within the book, then print out your script and tuck it into your book of choice.
But, consider your choice of novel carefully. The spine of your book may be visible in wedding photos, and you would not want to be holding a copy of War of the Worlds, for example.
3. Read Your Script from a Tablet
It’s the 21st century, so why not read from an electronic device? We have seen more and more officiants opt to read from an iPad or other tablet because it’s a convenient and clutter-free way to hold your script.
But be aware there are downsides to this method! These are very important to consider.
Unlike good old-fashioned paper, you can run into technical difficulties with a tablet. Screen glare is hard to anticipate, especially outdoors, and you’d better make sure that your battery is fully charged.
And like with a book or binder, you must consider how your tablet will look at the ceremony. We recommend that you use a tablet with a neutral appearance, one that won’t be distracting in photos.
And finally, tell your couple in advance if you want to use a tablet. There are many couples who don’t want an iPad featured in their ceremony photos.
And while we're on the topic of electronics, we have one piece of advice about reading a ceremony script from your phone, let’s all agree now:
You should not be reading from your phone.
Holding a larger device looks a lot more professional, so stick with a tablet and leave your phone out of sight and on silent! Getting a phone call in the middle of the ceremony is distracting for everyone and has the potential to ruin videos and the mood.
Your script should look just as good as you and your couple do!
However you decide to dress and hold your script up for the occasion, bring a backup copy (or two)!
Whether you plan to officiate with a tablet, binder, or don’t follow any of our advice and use loose sheets of paper or attempt it from memory, a backup plan is always essential!
Pages can go missing, tablets can run out of batteries, hecklers can throw you off your game. You just never know! Always be prepared with a second copy.
Updated April, 2022
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.
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