What is the Role of the Officiant in a Wedding Ceremony?

An Introduction to Officiating Wedding Ceremonies


The Wedding Officiant's Job

When officiating a wedding, your role as the officiant is to conduct the ceremony. Much like a conductor, you will be using words and gestures to indicate what is to be said, who stands where, and who does what. In addition, you are acting in the capacity of a third party administering a contract between two people.

Traditionally, the officiant role was held by someone of high esteem within a community. This may have been a church leader or other high ranking person in the community such as a judge or constable.

Before the government became involved in regulating and recognizing marriage, the officiant would ensure the marriage was recognized by conducting the ceremony in a public setting so that everyone knew that Mr. and Mrs. Smith were married. It was important that these ceremonies had witnesses, so that it became common knowledge that the couple was married.

You can also view your role as officiant from a contractual legal standpoint. In other words, you can think of yourself as the person administering the marital contract to the couple and ensuring that the verbal agreement takes place. The ceremony itself is a performative enactment of the marriage license with the signing being the “I do,” part.

Your bureaucratic role as the officiant is to ensure that both parties are entering into the marital contract of their own free will and sound mind.

Your performative role as the officiant is to conduct an awesome wedding ceremony for the couple and wedding party.

Your legal role is to complete the marriage license with the couple and any required witnesses, and ensure that the completed marriage license be returned to its issuance office.

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