How to Prepare for Performing a Wedding Ceremony

Preparing to officiate a wedding is a big task that involves more than just writing the wedding ceremony script. This page covers everything from how to dress, coordinate with the couple, and rehearse for the ceremony. By following this guide you will cover all the important logistics to ensure you are fully prepared to officiate.


  1. Nail Down the Logistics
  2. Gather Info for the Ceremony
  3. Write Your First Draft
  4. Rehearse and Polish
  5. Rehearse and Internalize
  6. Dress Rehearsal & Officiate
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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.

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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:

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:

The following questions will help the couple tell you what you need to know as officiant and will save everybody valuable time.

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.

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...

Have you written your vows? (Yes)

If the prewed has written their vows then this is a great opportunity to ask…

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.

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Will You
Marry Us?

The wedding gift package revolutionizing how you choose your officiant!

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Get Ordained
with AMM

Become a Wedding Officiant with our Free Ordination.

Get Ordained

Signature
Wedding Officiant Package

Everything you need to Officiate Weddings like pro!

Learn More

How To Officiate
Legal Weddings

Check out our minister registration guide for performing marriage in Your State.

Learn More

Minister Ordination
Package

Our most popular package contains everything you need to officiate your first wedding.

Order Now

AMM
Wedding Wall

View weddings performed by our ministers!

See Weddings

Check Out The
AMM Blog

Learn About the latest wedding trends and developments in the wedding industry.

Learn More

Ocean
Conservancy

AMM supports Ocean Conservancy. Check them out!

Donate Now

Take The
Wedding Ceremony Quiz

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3. Write Your First Draft

By this point you should have everything you need to start writing the ceremony. If you want more details and options, check out our revised version of Asked to Officiate, the AMM’s comprehensive guide to planning and executing marriage ceremonies. Following the list below ensures that you cover all your bases.

The two biggest challenges for most writers are procrastination and distraction. In order to set yourself up for success we recommend that you:

Block out the Time

Set your timer for an hour. Sit down and tell yourself that you will dedicate yourself to this task for the next hour. Do not allow yourself to get distracted with another task until that hour is up. It may not even take an hour to write the ceremony, but be deliberate about setting aside the time.

Mitigate Distractions

Having your focus broken can really slow down the writing process. Chances are you will be writing your ceremony on a computer, possibly within a web browser. As great as computers are, their multifunctionality means that distractions are just a click away. We recommend that you do the following to avoid common pitfalls:

Register your Wedding - Weddings logged in your AMM minister account include a personalized ceremony. This helps you kick start the writing process as you already have a foundation. You can copy and paste the ceremony from our website, and then work on it using your software of choice.

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4. Rehearse and Polish

You now have your first draft. It’s time to take your script and make sure everything reads out loud the way it sounds in your head.

The Ceremony To Yourself Out Loud

Pay attention to anything that feels clunky, that you have trouble saying, or otherwise doesn’t feel quite right. Make the necessary corrections.

Solicit The Help of a Friend

Find someone to listen to you rehearse the ceremony. Having a second pair of ears is a great way to uncover potential issues that you were unaware of. Take and apply all constructive feedback.

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5. Rehearse and Internalize

At this point you should have a polished ceremony with (more or less) the final wording. In the weeks and days leading up to the ceremony, we recommend that you set some time aside each day to practice the script.

Set some time aside each day to practice reading the ceremony script aloud.

This should take between five and ten minutes each time, maybe even less. The following are thing you can work on to perfect the ceremony.

Be aware of your cadence

Use a stopwatch to find out how long it takes you to speak the ceremony. This is a great way for you to get a clear idea of how long you will be speaking. After doing this several times, you will also have a better idea of when you are rushing. When it comes to public speaking, it is important to speak slowly. Because of the adrenaline rush, most people with little public speaking experience tend to speak too fast. Knowing how much time the ceremony should take will give you an indication of whether and how much you should pace yourself.

Memorize the script

You don’t have to, but it helps a lot!

Create practice opportunities

Practice in the mirror, in the morning, in the car, etc.

Practice the motions

The ring exchange, gestures, etc.

Dress Practice

Wear something fancy, hold a book, use the script as a prop.

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6. Dress Rehearsal & Officiate

If you have followed all of these recommendations you should be fully prepared to conduct the wedding ceremony. That being said, here are a few useful tips to make sure things go extra smooth on the wedding day.

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Will You
Marry Us?

The wedding gift package revolutionizing how you choose your officiant!

Learn More

Get Ordained
with AMM

Become a Wedding Officiant with our Free Ordination.

Get Ordained

Signature
Wedding Officiant Package

Everything you need to Officiate Weddings like pro!

Learn More

How To Officiate
Legal Weddings

Check out our minister registration guide for performing marriage in Your State.

Learn More

Minister Ordination
Package

Our most popular package contains everything you need to officiate your first wedding.

Order Now

AMM
Wedding Wall

View weddings performed by our ministers!

See Weddings

Check Out The
AMM Blog

Learn About the latest wedding trends and developments in the wedding industry.

Learn More

Ocean
Conservancy

AMM supports Ocean Conservancy. Check them out!

Donate Now

Take The
Wedding Ceremony Quiz

Take Quiz
BECOME AN AMM MINISTER