The “Un”-official Officiant
It is beyond popular right now to ask an uncle or a dear friend to officiate your wedding. Which is SO special and intimate. What a great honor for them… and a HUGE responsibility. There are a million articles out there about how to ask that person to do it, how to get ordained, what the flow of the ceremony should be, what words to choose, etc. It’s mind-boggling.
I am a tried-and-true believer that you should hire PROFESSIONALS to work at your wedding instead of relying on a family members & friends – they are, after all, special enough to be on the A-List that made the cut to be invited to the Big Day, right?
However, this is one role that I totally “get” as being an exception to the rule. However, that person needs to:
- Be an experienced public speaker
- Enjoy being in front of a group
- Be willing to give up sitting and enjoying the ceremony because s/he’ll be in the middle of it
- Take the role seriously (this is NOT the time to be a jokster. Humor is good but isn’t an opportunity to roast the Bride & Groom)
- Research this role and what s/he wants to say
- Be prepared (meet with the couple, practice, etc.)
If all of the above apply, then I say “Go For It!”
As a wedding coordinator, I am asked all the time, “What should I say?” so here is my feedback.
Every ceremony is different so I don’t have any templates/outlines. I found this outline online and like it (keep or toss whatever you want) because it’s simple.
And some words I like included, for logistical reasons are:
“Please rise for the Bride” (this is said 3-4 beats after the music changes to “her song” immediately before the Bride comes out) – the role of the officiant is to LEAD the ceremony so telling guests what to do is par for the course.
S/he will then say something like “Who presents this woman in marriage?” (her dad will say something like “her mother and I” or “our family”…)
Then the Groom will come to whoever’s escorting the Bride down the aisle and shakes hands and/or hug. Personal preference: I LOVE it when both parents escort the Bride down the aisle. We live in an era when the parents are true co-parents and the mom (or mother-figure) is just as important to honor as the father (or father-figure) as a source of love, support and honor in the family.
The Groom then takes the Bride’s hand and they will walk toward the officiant, face each other and hold hands (she hands off her bouquet).
Officiant says: “You may be seated” or “Please be seated” – again, LEAD the group!
I HIGHLY suggest that the Bride & Groom do traditional AND personal vows. People love the humor and love that come from the personal vows but really feel comfortable when they get to hear the traditional vows as well (“…in good times and bad…”)
When/if doing traditional vows, please close with “forever and always” instead of ” till death do us part.” No one wants to hear about death during such a joyous occasion!
After some closing comments about how the Bride & Groom have just made promises to each other, the officiant can say something like something like, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Then TAKES A STEP TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT SO S/HE’S NOT IN THE PHOTO WHEN YOU KISS. (To be practiced during the rehearsal). “<Groom>, you may kiss your Bride…”. They kiss. Then they turn to the guests (to be practiced at rehearsal), then everyone will clap loudly so wait for that to die down a bit before saying something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present to you, for the first time as husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. <I like the formal version with both names mentioned and the legal last name>.” and then everyone will clap even louder as they walk back up the aisle.
Since your officiant will be in 90% of your ceremony photos, it’s important for him/her to be dressed neutrally and professionally. I suggest a base color like grey or tan or black (only for more formal events) with a neutral tie or scarf. Minimal jewelery, comfortable shoes (I’m talking to you, ladies), and no/minimal patterns.
It’s ideal that the officiant have a black/grey hard folio of some sort that is neutral & professional-looking to hold the papers that s/he’ll be reading from. You can get one at the local office supply store. NOTE: A nice, leather folio could be a wonderful gift for your officiant – maybe monogram it?
NOTE: If you decide that you want to hire a professional after all, I HIGHLY recommend Rich Tobin of Wed In SB. He’s professional and organized and his ceremonies are personalized, heart-felt and beautifully delivered.