Post # 1
My good friends (previous roommates) have asked me to officiate their wedding. I won’t need to be ordained as they already got legally hitched at the courthouse 2 years ago (I was there). They are now doing a full wedding next year in their new location in a different state and inviting friends and family for what will be their 3 year anniversary. It sounds to me like the whole thing will be full wedding aside from the vows, which will be more ‘renewal’ in theme.
They have asked me to officiate. They’ve given me free rein to be a bit silly, they’d probably love nerdy references or quotes (we bonded over a lot of mutual nerdy interests), and I know they want religion left out of things. I’ve also been told to keep the whole thing about 10 minutes or less and that they’ll write their own vows/renewals.
I’ve already begun researching what all I’ve be responsible for, the parts of the ceremony, and general advice, but I’d love to hear from you guys. I’ve definitely read to gather some personal info about the couple and their relationship.
I already know how they met and have a couple possible little anecdotes/comments on how they complement each other, but nothing really noteworthy yet. I have TONS of time, so for now I’d love to hear from others! The only feedback I’ve heard of officiants from married friends was one who was upset that the guy read the wrong ceremony version than the one they’d agreed upon. Every wedding I’ve been to has involved a hired officiant, not a friend.
I’m hoping to find a good balance – to have some humor and fun quotes/references, but not so much that I lose people who don’t get them, especially as it sounds like a lot of their relatives are coming.
What was important to you to be included? What little touches did you enjoy? What do you wish you’d had? What little research/anecdotes surprised you in a good way, on the part of the officiant?
Also, particularly for those with non-religious ceremonies, how did you make it feel more ‘you’ and contemporary? Did you have any sort of little unity gesture? I’ve heard of a baby tree/plant, the candle, sand, etc so far.
Post # 2
Remember to tell people they can sit down! Traditionally, everyone stands when the bride comes down the aisle. I have been to many friend-officiated weddings where the officiant launches into the ceremony and forgets to say something like, “please be seated,” which causes a lot of awkward looks and shuffling as people try to figure out when it’s appropriate to sit.
Post # 3
hotdoglover : How funny! Definitely not something I’d initially realize to say, thanks!
One article I read had a really helpful, long comment from someone explaining how she enjoyed officiating but that otherwise she felt very uncomfortable and unintentionally excluded due to lack of communication about her role during the day as a whole. She said she didn’t get to take any pictures with the bride or groom until she specifically asked, felt awkward as she wasn’t an actual part of the wedding party when it came to getting ready, toasts and thank yous, photos, etc. I was so glad she shared her experience – I can definitely see how a friend as an officiant may get lost in things and forgotten about as an important member of the proceedings to be included in the fun parts, too.
I love the idea of having a friend officiate someday so I’m also taking notes so that person will have a great experience!
Post # 4
1. Practice practice practice.
2. If the couple isn’t already on top of some sort of mic/amp set up for the ceremony make sure you suggest it. And if they refuse then go back again and practice practice practice making sure you project your voice appropriately for the space and whatever ambient noise there may be. I attended a wedding in a lovely space on the banks of a river. Ths groom’s best friend officiated and the word on the street was he wrote a very lovely heartfelt ceremony. It’s too bad none of us actually heard a word of it because they were trying to cut costs with their venue and additional expenses and no one in the ceremony spoke loud enough for us to hear. To this day I take it on blind faith they actually said vows and said I do.
3. Anecdotes are great (especially if it demonstrates a particular time they demonstrated great love and affection for each other or it became apparent they were “meant to be” or even why they are just plain lovely people you are proud to know). Private jokes not so much. Unless everyone in attendance is “in” on the joke or reference, it usually goes over like a lead and balloon and you get a lot of puzzled looks or mild chuckles to humor you while everyone wonders what was actually so funny. Also test drive your stories to make sure they aren’t “guess you had to be there” kinds of moments. I’ve seen this happen in speeches and ceremonies – a lot of people don’t have a good knack for what is actually an interesting story to people not involved or they think they are a lot funnier than they are and it’s just kind of awkward.
Post # 5
on this note…. it’s also your job to say “please rise” if people don’t do it…. both of our parents froze and didn’t rise and since they didn’t….no one did. Our officiant was a friend as well and didn’t jump in so everyone awkwardly sat…. and then he still read the “please be seated” part of the script lol
Post # 6
I wrote the ceremony for my wedding and I found looking at other ceremony scripts online really helped me with figuring out a structure for mine. I think I found some on apracticalwedding.com and offbeatbride.com.
The general structure I came up with was:
Welcome (i.e. We are gathered here today yada yada yada)
Address (a paragraph about our relationship, how we met, and what brought us to marriage)
Address Cont. (a paragraph about what makes a marriage work)
Vows and Expression of Intent (I do’s)
Ring Exchange (Repeat after me style vows)
Pronouncement and Kiss
Post # 7
Ha! That happened at my wedding too. The officiant (my BIL) still said “Please be seated” and everyone laughed.
Post # 8
GREAT advice, thanks! They hope to have the ceremony outside if the weather is good, so I’ll make sure to ask when we get closer to the date. I just received my Save the Date in the mail yesterday for it. I don’t believe there is running water nearby but that does make me think back to my brother’s wedding – there WAS a stream then but I was in the wedding party standing at the front so I had no issues hearing. Wonder if others did though.. And thanks, I agree. Any nerdy references or little stories are going to be kept probably pretty brief and clear. If something needs a backstory for context, it probably doesn’t need to be included. I’ll likely be the one vetting this stuff as the bride and groom are super laid back and so far have been fine with literally any suggestion I have, joking or not lol.
Yes, I’ll be sure to write these in! I’m sure I’ll have a little ‘script’ of sorts with me and will make sure those parts are emphasized so things go smoothly.
That breakdown is super appreciated. I’ve looked at some online but sometimes they are so wordy in descriptions! Thank you for this; I’m writing it down as an outline to start with, as well as the websites you mentioned!!
Glad to hear it was a comical moment! I’m hoping that if/when I mess anything up, it’s a fun moment instead of super awkward as well.
Post # 9
Haha I wrote all of our ceremony script and definitely had our officiant say “please be seated!”
Post # 10
Yes having them write it in their script to tell everyone to sit down.
As a wedding photographer I cringe whenever a couple tells me they have a friend/family/etc set up to officiate their wedding. Not because I don’t think it’s a lovely sentiment but because basically EVERY.SINGLE.TIME the “officiant” forgets to tell guests to ‘please be seated’ and they end up standing, in front of their chairs, the entire ceremony. It looks horrible in photos and limits what we’re able to capture because we obviously can’t shoot over their heads. While we logically know it’s completely out of our control, weddings are emotional events and when a couple gets their photos back and sees that (because at the time they’re swept up in the moment and often don’t notice) they get upset.
Not only that but it’s not fun for your guests to be awkwardly standing. Plus, for MANY venues (espeically if couples choose to get married in open spaces) those chairs have to be rented at an additional cost. For example, if you have a reception venue booked but want to get married at a nearby park you have to rent those chairs for the ceremony – and in my area they tend to run around $7/chair on the low end for basic white resin chairs. That’s $700 minimum for a 100 person wedding and as a bride I’d be pissed if I spent $700 on chairs that didn’t get used.
Post # 11
- Wedding: July 2020 - City, State
How exctiting for you! I had a friend officiate my very small wedding, and there were two tips I had for her from my online reading. One was to know the last line of my husband’s vows so she knew when to refer to me – we did not rehearse due to how small it was. Also, I reminded her to step out of the shot for our first kiss so that she was not in the backdrop (outdoor beach wedding). Good luck to you!