Let’s be honest. A great wedding without a great ceremony is just a great party. As the wedding officiant, no pressure, right? Just kidding. It’s all on you! You already know by now that being asked to officiate a loved ones ceremony is a huge honor. But officiating a wedding is also a lot of work!
But don’t worry. You’ve got this, and I got you! I’m sharing 17 tips for a first time wedding officiant that I’ve learned over the years.
- Practice, practice, practice. You know what they say, practice makes perfect. I swear this idiom was made for someone preparing to speak publicly. Nothing, and I mean, nothing will make you feel more confident for your first time officiating a wedding than being prepared. Knowing the script allows you to present the service with confidence and poise. Read it out loud. Twenty times. I’m not even kidding.
- Shoulders back, chin up, and a smile on your face. Pretty simple, but your posture makes a world of difference.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I’m not saying to wear your Supergas. I’m simply suggesting something that feels like your favorite sneakers.
- Have at least two copies of the ceremony with you. Prepare one in a folio or notebook that you’ll use for the ceremony and have an extra copy in your car. Just in case. Better safe than sorry here.
- Get ordained! If it’s your responsibility to ensure your loved ones are legally married then it’s your responsibility to get ordained. Check out my resources page for how and where to become a minister. You’ll be in the likes of Stephen Colbert, Lady Gaga, Conan O’Brien, and moi.
- Choose an appropriate outfit. Don’t be shy about asking your friend or family member what they prefer you to wear. AVOID wearing brown and gray because they can dull your skin tone and loud prints and patterns that are distracting or compete with the bridal party. Also, don’t wear WHITE unless the couple has specifically asked you to do so. This seems pretty dang obvious, but don’t make this mistake. Also, be wary of clothes that are too frilly, boxy, or baggy because they can distort your silhouette.
- Get a binder or portfolio that feels good in your hands. If the ceremony is outside then I recommend using plastic sleeves in case of rain. Mother Nature makes her own plans.
- Avoid reading from an iPhone or iPad. Relying on technology not only feels impersonal, it’s risky. And not worth taking when you’re leading the wedding ceremony.
- Be rested, well fed, and hydrated before the ceremony. Nerves can get the best of us. Rest, hydration, and fuel are your friends.
- Save the champagne for AFTER the ceremony. I know, I know. It’s tempting to go for “liquid courage,” but trust me, it’s important to be clear headed and present for the ceremony.
- Hire Swoon Union to write the ceremony for you. It’s professionally written, personally delivered, and pressure-free. Let me take the guesswork out of this for you! Learn more about my ceremony writing services for professional, personalized, custom ceremonies.
- Know the legal requirements of the state in which you’re performing the marriage ceremony. Every state has different laws and requirements. I always suggest reaching out to the City Hall or Town Clerk’s office if you have questions. Err on the side of caution.
- Presence over perfection. Always.
- Treat this as an exhale moment.
- Don’t forget to sign the marriage license.
- Be yourself! Your friend or family member asked you to do the honors because they LOVE you! Show up as your best self and…
- Have fun! You’re setting the tone for the celebration and the couple’s first memories as a married couple.