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What Should I Do With My Hands? 4 Tips For First Time Wedding Officiants

Published Tuesday, Mar. 2nd, 2021

Cover image: Officiant Jimmie marries a couple in a beautiful outdoor ceremony, via @officiantjimmie on Instagram

What the heck are you supposed to do with your hands while you deliver a wedding ceremony? 

New and first time officiants ask this question all the time, and we understand why! 


Waving your hands around or gesturing and fidgeting too much will distract from what you’re saying and from the lovely couple you’re marrying. Shoving your hands into your pockets might make you look like you’re not taking the ceremony seriously, or even make you look more nervous than you already are! And folding your arms over your chest? That’s a definite no. (Not to mention, this body language will not look good in the couple’s ceremony photos.)

So what should you do instead?



1. Hold onto your script 


This looks and feels professional, and keeps you from waving your hands around or accidentally crossing your arms over your chest. 


Don’t just cling to a few pieces of printer paper though! And no death grips, please. Use sturdy (numbered!) notecards, a binder, or place your script into the pages of a book. 




A post shared by 🌿CEREMONIES by RAQUEL🌿 (@ceremoniesbyraquel)



2. Keep your thumb out of your pocket  


This great tip comes from AMM Officiant Jimmie, who offered it to grooms to keep them looking sharp in wedding photos. But this goes for all pocket lovers out there! 


Whether you’re rocking a stylish pantsuit, a dress with pockets, a pocketed onesie or jumpsuit, or a classic wedding suit, and want to put your hands in your pockets, this simple tip is foolproof.




A post shared by OfficiantJimmie (@officiantjimmie)



3. Use a music stand


Music stands keep your hands free for holding onto microphones, and they won’t create a solid barrier between you and the guests (so folks will still get to see your outfit and body language!)


Stands are also helpful if you have physical limitations that make holding or carrying things for a long period of time difficult, and they look professional!




A post shared by ✨ Florida Wedding Officiant✨ (@weddingsbybonnie)



4. Use Gestures to Give Direction and Direct Attention


You are not a robot! Don’t be afraid to gesture when it’s useful or impactful. You’ll want to help give directions to ring barriers and alert guests and speakers when it’s time for special readings. You’ll want to speak comfortably and not stiffly, which includes some natural movement. 


Don’t focus so hard on not moving around too much that you end up looking like a robot or a nervous statue. Keep things loose! 




A post shared by Tie The Knot California (@tietheknotcalifornia)



Read more suggestions for performing a perfect wedding ceremony without previous public speaking experience!


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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