Handling a Ceremony Mistake in the Moment

Turning those fails into wins!

It happens to the best of us… sooner or later, if you officiate enough wedding ceremonies, you're gonna make a goof. It may be a missed word, an incorrect pronunciation, losing your place in the ceremony; maybe even an outside distraction that's not your fault! Don't worry and don't dwell on the past - it's not the goof that matters, it's how you handle it.

By following these steps, not only will you ride right over the gaffes, you will convey a sense of control and confidence that will impress the couple and guests:

1. Stay Calm

In a high pressure situation, keeping your cool can be tough. When you notice that you have made a mistake, your mind can start racing. That's why it's so important to be familiar with the script. Take time to read it beginning to end, many times over. Focus on the words you have coming up and the pace of your speech. If you remain calm and pace yourself, you will prevent yourself from making additional mistakes.

Should you find yourself a little shaken, use a natural breakpoint in the ceremony to center yourself, like the end of a paragraph. Finish your sentence, pause for a deep breath, and move on. Ceremonies aren't a speed reading contest, and guests expect pauses. These little moments let folks appreciate the couple, the venue, the vibes and everything else. Honestly, they'll have no idea that you flubbed a word if you play your cards right.

2. Keep Going

Whenever possible, just keep going. If you miss a word or say something incorrectly, don't overthink it. You should continue the ceremony unless your mistake is distractingly obvious or it changes the meaning of your words. Remember that no one speaks with perfect grammar, and you are likely the only person who noticed your goof. Don't draw attention to a minor mistake.

3. Roll With It

If you make an obvious error or the ceremony itself is interrupted, move on as quickly as possible. Your goal is to turn distractions into footnotes, not the defining moments of the ceremony. You can circle back if you miss a paragraph, or re-read a sentence if you jumble it up. Don't make a direct acknowledgement of the interruption unless you absolutely must.

As a real-world example, we once handed the bride's vows to the groom during the ceremony. The groom began reading, and quickly noticed the mistake a few words in. By the time he paused to look up, we had realized what happened, and were ready with a quick correction. With a little embarrassment and a forced smile we replied, "sorry. These would be yours,"" swapping the vow cue cards. The moment was over as soon as it began, with minimal impact on the ceremony, and we were able to apologize later on.

Remember: If you make a mistake, stay calm, don't draw unnecessary attention to the flub, put a smile on your face, and move on. It's your responsibility to run a smooth ceremony and maintain a positive attitude, mistakes or no mistakes.


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