It’s increasingly common for couples to choose a close friend or family member to officiate their wedding. This tends to make it feel more special and memorable for everyone involved. Being the officiant can come with a bit of pressure as you’re the one leading the actual wedding ceremony—obviously you want it to go off without a hitch! So if someone close to you has asked you to do the honor, where do you even start? Lucky for you, we’re here to let you in on the most important things to keep in mind that will ensure your duty will go smoothly.
1. First, get ordained:
You’ll want to make sure you know all the legal requirements to become ordained in the location of the wedding. Different religions and locations maybe have different requirements, so be sure to find out that info ahead of time. In many places, it’s as simple as filling out a form with an online church and paying a small fee. If the state, city, or country where the wedding is happening allows it, then check out our Guide to Getting Ordained Online in 6 Easy Steps.
2. Get the marriage license
Make sure that the couple has gotten the marriage license well ahead of time as this will definitely prevent any last minute scrambling and freak outs due to someone’s procrastination. On the day of the ceremony make sure to confirm that the couple actually has the license with them, and better yet if you can, have them give it to you until after it’s been signed. That way they won’t have to panic calling everyone to figure out who had it last, which usually leads to some sort of meltdown.
3. Discuss with the couple what they want for their wedding
Be sure to discuss with the couple what they want from their ceremony!
We strongly recommend double-checking with your couple on exactly what they’re expecting from you. Knowing the vibe of your couple will definitely help you in deciding whether or not you should share an embarrassing story or if they’d find it charming when you start to recite the iconic line from the princess bride: “Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… ”
4. Prepare what you’re going to say
Sometimes keeping it short, simple and to the point is best. Or sometimes a long poetic speech about the origins of love and how it found the couple and applies to all of us are exactly what everyone needs to hear. Either way, be sure to add in some personal touches or details to give your script more depth and a way for your audience to connect to what you’re saying! Reaching out to friends and family for inspiration can also really help get your inspiration going.
Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be saying, make sure you practice it so you won’t be fumbling over your words and you’ll be confident in what you’re saying. Seeing your calm, collected, prepared vibes, is going to set the tone for how the couple will feel while they’re up there with you!
5. Know the day-of logistics
Make sure you know the logistics of the ceremony (who will be involved, what elements the ceremony will have, where and when the ceremony will be). Make sure you’ve chatted not only with the lovely couple, but also the wedding planner (or day-of-coordinator, or whoever is running the show) so you’ll know what the order of procession will be and what your cues are during the ceremony. You want to make sure that you aren’t talking like an auctioneer, but you also aren’t talking so slow that grandpa is falling asleep. Encourage your couple’s to share a few words of their own, whether it be in writing their own vows or maybe just sharing what they love most about their spouse-to-be. This will give the ceremony a more personal and emotional touch and will help break it up so you won’t have to be talking the entire time.
6. Make sure the marriage license is signed!
Ok, we mentioned this one already, but it’s a big one to remember! Nothing is legal unless they get that baby signed sealed and delivered! Make sure you’ve determined at what point during the day will the couple be signing their marriage license. Most of the time it’s easiest to do it either right after the ceremony or when the couple sits down to eat. Also, make sure you decide on who is going to be in charge of actually mailing in the license (we suggest mailing it as certified mail just in case!) once it’s been signed and be sure to mail the license within the legal time limit, that way there won’t be any last minute panicking when it hasn’t been sent in within that time period.