Published: Thursday, Jul. 1st, 2021
You’re standing in front of a crowd of well-dressed guests, about to perform your very first wedding ceremony. Beside you, the two people about to get married smile with excitement, waiting for you to begin. You open your mouth to speak and… What do you say?
The opening words of a wedding ceremony are called the Invocation -- also known as the wedding welcome, introduction, or opening remarks. These are the first words an officiant says during a ceremony and immediately follow the procession. They set the tone for each part of the wedding that follows.
During the Invocation, the officiant greets the guests, introduces the couple, and announces the purpose of the gathering.
This can be short and sweet, accomplished with only a sentence or two, or it can last for several minutes. Invocations can be religious, non-religious, funny, heartwarming, formal, offbeat and quirky, and anything in between.
“Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Tabitha and Charlie.”
“Dearly beloved, we’ve gathered here today in this holy place, in presence of God and the spirits of our ancestors, to witness the joining of Tabitha and Charlie in eternal matrimony. We ask for God’s blessing …” (usually followed by a prayer.)
Give guests a glimpse of what life and love are like for the couple.
If you’ve been asked to perform a wedding for friends or relatives, or are creating a custom ceremony script, you may want to add a little of the couple’s energy and essense to the Invocation.
It’s helpful to divide a personalized Invocation into 3 parts as you begin:
The Welcome (Greeting): Welcome the guests and explain the purpose of the event
Words on Marriage: Describe what marriage and commitment mean to the couple
The Couple’s Story: Describe the couple’s life and relationship, milestones leading up to this day, what they love most about each other, and what they envision for their future as a married couple
(We’ve color-coded this to make it easier to understand. The welcome is written in green, words on marriage are in blue, and the couple’s story is in purple.)
“Hello and welcome, dear ones.
We’ve asked you here today to join us in this most spectacular of moments, as Tabitha and Charlie do something big, something powerful, something they’ve been threatening to do for years -- they’re finally getting hitched!
Now, if you know these two wonderful weirdos as well as I do -- and I know that most of you do -- you know that Tabby and Charlie don’t take this marriage business lightly. They’ve spent years rebelling against the concept of contracts and legal hocus-pocus when it comes to love. But getting older has softened them a little -- don’t tell Charlie I said that -- and their understanding of love, and marriage, has deepened, too.
They’ve come to see marriage not as some elaborate codified institution, but as a simple and transcendent spiritual bond. A connection that exists beyond the trappings of our world, beyond our sometimes jaded views of relationships and commitment, beyond even our most earnest attempts at language -- They’ve come to know marriage as something ethereal, eternal... Something spiritual.
These two have known they were destined for each other from day one, and have continued to grow together for over a decade, through joyful moments and mourning, a unified front in a sometimes uncertain world. Today, they celebrate their spiritual bond, one they’re happy to call marriage, as they face the future with open, full hearts.”
Notice in the example above that the words on marriage and the couple’s story flow naturally, and even blend together in some places. It’s loaded with personality, while still containing all of the elements of a standard invocation.
Set aside time to meet with the couple before you start writing the ceremony and gathering personal details to include in the Invocation. Ask questions, and get to know how they interact with each other. This is essential to creating a unique opening!
Once you have some insight into the couple’s relationship and an idea of their style, spend time looking at sample scripts and wedding templates online. (We have an entire library to browse.) Combine the parts you like, make some edits, and create your own custom opening!
Then, you can move on to the next part of the ceremony…
Asked to Officiate is our most comprehensive guide for planning a wedding ceremony.
This step by step workbook will walk you through each part of the wedding ceremony, including the Invocation, the ‘end of aisle question,’ custom vows, special readings, unity ceremonies, completing the marriage license, and more. It was written by experienced wedding officiants to make your first ceremony a breeze.
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