There’s more to being a wedding officiant than just performing the ceremony, even if that’s the most important part. There’s writing the ceremony, rehearsing the ceremony, what to wear, where to stand, and so much more… In the lead up to the big day, we’ll help you get ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime. Make sure to review our Ceremony Best Practices page so that when the time comes, you knock it out of the park!
1. Nail Down the Logistics
Planning can be the most stressful part of weddings, and you don’t want that stress to spill over into the event. The sooner you take care of the details, the better. Coordinate with the couple and get the answer to these questions…
a. When is the wedding?
Make sure to block out the time. Put it in your calendar, phone, post-it on the fridge, etc.
b. Where is the venue?
It may be your backyard, it may be a Comicon convention. Either way, the venue can inform the tone of the ceremony. Additionally, it helps to know where you will be speaking.
c. How will I get there?
Maybe you have to book plane tickets. Or catch a train. Or do both. Figure it out, lock in in, and give yourself a pat on the back because travel is stressful enough without last-minute scrambling.
d. What should I wear?
The way that we dress sends important social cues, and helps to set the tone of the ceremony. Find out what the preweds have in mind, and if they don’t know, collaborate and maybe you’ll come up with something interesting or fitting together.
This takes care of the important logistics. Getting these points out of the way early will help to establish the tone you want to set when you begin writing the ceremony.
2. Gather Info for the Ceremony
Now that you’ve nailed down the what, when, and where,, it’s time to get started on the ceremony itself. Before you begin writing, we recommend you follow these steps.
Learn about the Wedding Ceremony
Block out at least an hour. Put on a timer. Go to our website. Oh, you are here! Read through our ceremony training pages. This is not complicated stuff, but it is important for you to understand. After reading through our materials, you will have a solid understanding of:
- The ceremony as a whole
- Its individual pieces
- Your role and responsibilities as the officiant
Meet with the Couple
At this point you could begin writing but before you do that, we recommend that you first meet with the preweds. This meeting need not be long, and you can even do it via email, so long as everybody is communicating clearly. The purpose of this meeting is to:
- Get everybody on the same page
- Define how much work/writing you need to do
- Get a better idea of the "flavor" of the ceremony
The following questions will help the couple tell you what you need to know as officiant and will save everybody valuable time.
- Do you already have a ceremony that you want me to read?
- Is your religion included in the ceremony? How about your love of Harry Potter? Is there a theme, idea, etc, you are going for?
- Are there any special rituals you want included, such as a unity candle, or ancestral blessings?
- Are any other parties involved in the ceremony?
- Is there going to be a vow and/or ring exchange?
- Have you written your vows?
- Is there anything else that I have not addressed that you would like to share?
The answers to these questions will provide all you need to understand the scope of your responsibilities and writing directives.
Offer to Help with the Wedding Vows
If the couple doesn’t have a wedding planner, chances are one or both of them may be going a little loco planning their wedding. You, as a minister, are in the unique position to be a valuable and helpful resource to the couple, especially when it comes to writing their vows.
You may have never provided wedding vow counsel before. Don’t let this hold you back, or make you think you are unqualified. You do not need a philosophy degree to help someone with their wedding vows. All that is involved is an honest conversation, the right questions, and listening.
On that note, follow the steps below for the bet results.
- Is the couple interested in your help with their vows?
- The first thing, of course, is to find out if the couple wants help. Maybe they want to do this on their own. That’s fine, it means one less thing you need to do, and you can move on to other things. If they do want help…
- Set up an appointment with the prewed individually. We highly recommend that you do this in person, snapchat doesn’t cut it, and face to face makes all the difference for this sort of task. When you meet, you can start by asking the following questions.
Have you written your vows? (No)
If not, then use the opportunity to give the couple some direction. A great way to do this is to ask...
- How did you two meet?
- When did you know you were in love?
- What is a specific thing you love about your partner?
- Was there an event that really articulated that thing you love?
- Is there something you have wanted to tell them but have not because for some reason? Perhaps it sounded cheesy? Or you were worried that it might come off heavy handed? Well, this is your chance!
- Remember that time you two...? What a hoot!
- Is there something your partner has done in the past that surprised you, in a good way?
- If your partner was leaving for Mars tomorrow and you knew you would not see them face to face for years, what would you want to say?
Have you written your vows? (Yes)
If the prewed has written their vows then this is a great opportunity to ask…
- Would they be interested in reading what they have? If not that is perfectly fine.
- Do they want feedback? Advice? If not that is also perfectly fine.
This is a wonderful opportunity that benefits both parties through collaboration. These conversations will provide insight into the tone of the ceremony and you will help the prewed accomplish a task that can be quite daunting.
Stay in touch. Keep each other accountable. If the prewed planned on writing their vows, but has been procrastinating. Follow up with them. They won’t resent a helpful reminder to get it done.