Master of Ceremonies: How to be a Good Wedding Officiant
Being ordained is a great feeling. It is a feeling of knowing that you are recognized to have more power then you did a few minutes ago. Being ordained isn't like being a superhero, though for some it can inspire a spiritual epiphany, it does however make you realize that you have the power to join two people together in marriage in the eyes of God (if you're religious) and the state. However, being an officiant isn't as easy as cutting cake, there are some hoops to jump through and some things to prepare before you take control someone's wedding ceremony.
When someone approaches you about needing an officiant for their wedding, feel honored. Whether you know the bride and groom personally or not, you are being asked to help make their marriage complete. All eyes will be in your direction as you face family and friends and help the young happy couple understand and announce their love for one-another and make it publicly known that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. Feeling nervous yet? You shouldn't, below are the questions that you need to be asking to help the couple and yourself prepare for the ceremony.
First things first, you need to make sure you are legally recognized to perform weddings. Most officiants today get ordained online, and this method still counts. The next step is to call the city clerk where you will be performing the wedding and make sure you don't need to bring forth any certification and be legally approved before you officiate. Every state is different, a simple phone call will tell you if there are any additional steps you need to take.
Once you know you can legally perform the wedding, now you need to find out what you are performing. This means you need to ask if the ceremony will be a religious one. Christian weddings, for example, vary greatly from those of Catholic faith. There are often different prayers and different traditions performed that you need to be made aware of. Considering the couple is looking for an officiant and not having their preacher or minister perform the wedding usually means that it will be a simple civil wedding, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Preparing the Romance
Any officiant should have a variety of vows prepared for the bride and groom to chose from. Unless you are of religious background and wish to stick to the original set of vows, the bride and groom should be given choices! Sometimes the bride and groom want to prepare their own vows, which is great, less work for you. However, sometimes they need direction and input, and this is where is pays to have some choices to refer to.
In most wedding ceremonies there is a wedding prayer. This is a way of blessing the union and giving a brief lecture to the bride and groom in front of their loved ones to ensure they understand what marriage means. These prayers are important, and the bride and groom may want more than one, so have a list of your favorite wedding prayers for the couple to choose from. These prayers help add beautiful sentiments to the ceremony and help make them special.
Wedding add-ons are becoming extremely popular in ceremonies today. These add-ons are traditions performed by the bride and groom during the ceremony. These can include a unity candle, sand ceremony, or mother's rose presentation, to name just a few. These traditions are romantic ways to physically see the uniting of two people, and the candle or sand ceremonies allow a keep-sake from the wedding to remind the couple of that special day.
What's your wedding preference?
What type of wedding did you/ will you have?
Find out the Details
Once the ceremony has been all planned out, there are only a few more details you really need to know. When officiating a wedding, you need to ask the bride and groom what they prefer you wear. Some couples would like you to try to color coordinate with the bridal party, and some would rather have you simply wear black. Females should ask if wearing a dress is alright, or if they prefer you to wear a pants suit. These preferences aren't to oppress your choice of style, but rather assist the couple in having the wedding they've always dreamed of.
Additionally, ask how the couple would like to be presented at the end of the ceremony. Will the bride take the groom's last night and like to be presented as Mr. & Mrs.? Or perhaps introducing the happy couple will do. In this situation you don't want to make assumptions that you are unsure on.
At some point you will need to discuss payment for your services. If you have decided to charge to officiate the wedding, the charges need to be discussed. Some people charge for the ceremony and other will charge for travel and overnight stay, depending on the location. You need to finalize your charges and agreed upon when receipt of payment will occur. My recommendation is to ask for payment the night of the wedding rehearsal, this shows that the couple is satisfied with their choices and your performances, and you won't have to hassle them for money on their big day.
Now that all the major decisions have been made, you can enjoy officiating the wedding! Enjoy the moment with the couple, it makes it so much more relaxing for everyone if you appear to be having fun. Be sure to arrive on time and at the right location and the reception should go flawlessly!
Best of Luck!