We recently worked with a couple who expressed upfront: they expected to be very nervous at their ceremony, and asked what the Minister could do to help them calm down. It's an uncommon question, but only because many brides and grooms are usually afraid to ask. Weddings are emotional and there will be plenty of nervousness to go around.
Chances are, by the time the bride walks down the aisle, something unplanned has already happened. Perhaps the Groom's father arrived late or rain delayed the ceremony. Who knows? As the clock ticks down to the big event, nerves are high and small things can set people off. As the officiant, you must be prepared, and level-headed.
If you are ready to deliver a great ceremony, or you will be by the wedding day, that's the first step. AMM Ministers can do many little things to calm everyone down, and that includes channeling those confident minister vibes.
The most important thing you can do as a Minister is project responsibility, letting everyone know the ceremony is under control, and that starts with punctuality.
On the day of the wedding, arrive right on-time, or early. Find an opportunity to talk with your couple for a few minutes. If you can assure them that all is well with the ceremony, they will have one less thing they have to worry about.
If you've got a bride or groom who's a nervous wreck, letting them know you've 'got it under control,' might not be enough. In fact, that's the bare minimum of what your couple should expect from you, AMM Minister. What you should be ready to offer are a few calming suggestions that your couple can put into practice:
Instruct your couple to look at each other and take a deep breath, or two, right at the start of the ceremony. This will "center" your couple, and help calm them in the moment. After everyone in the bridal party takes the stage, and as your couple steps toward you, is the perfect time.
Couples should face each other and hold hands during the ceremony, and this generally provides a calming effect. However, if your couple is going to psych each other out, it's okay to have them look at you or not hold hands. Your couple should do whatever makes them comfortable, as long as their backs are not turned to the audience.
There is nothing wrong with a couple writing and coordinating their own wedding ceremony; but in the moment, they need to let the Minister be in charge - for their own sake! You can handle the cues during the ceremony. Encourage your couple to live in the moment, not project manage.
It's your job to welcome everyone, introduce grandpa's reading, the handfasting, etc., and guide the ceremony from 'we are gathered here' to 'you may kiss'. Let your couple know, you're an AMM Minister and you've got this.
If you know that your couple is going to be nervous or emotional, start the ceremony with a lighthearted joke, something to make everyone chuckle. When you get your couple and your audience smiling together, everyone calms down.
Of course, you must consider the tone of the ceremony and/or ask your couple about this in advance - if they want a serious ceremony, don't launch into your new standup comedy routine.
And don't forget to take care of yourself! If you just got ordained and you're about to perform your first ceremony, we get it - you're going to have nerves too! It's completely understandable, and even after hundreds of ceremonies, we still get a little nervous.
Remember our first bit of advice about punctuality? It's not just for the couple. If you fully prepare and take your Ministerial duties seriously, you'll earn the confidence of everyone around you, and you'll feel better too. So chill, you'll do great!