It is a great honor to be asked to officiate a couple's wedding. They are entrusting you with one of the most special days of their relationship. Whether they are close friends or hired you based on a referral, you should take your duties seriously.
Every couple tends to have specific ideas about how they want their wedding to look, but you can bring some of your expertise to the table to help guide them along. There are several things you need to remember to do so that their wedding goes off without a hitch.
Before the Wedding
One of the main responsibilities of a wedding officiant is ensuring that the marriage is legally binding. To perform a wedding ceremony, you must be ordained according to the parameters outlined by the law in the state and county where the special day will take place. Furthermore, while the officiant cannot obtain the marriage license on behalf of the couple, he or she should make sure that they get it in time to make their marriage legal.
You need to meet with the couple at least once to discuss what they want to include in the ceremony. You may have a basic script in mind, but if there is a particular ritual that is meaningful to them, you don't want to forget to include it. These meetings also serve as a sounding board for them to air their concerns about what to expect on the day of the wedding. If you use this time well, all of you can face the day with confidence and eager anticipation.
Finally, leading the rehearsal before the wedding typically falls to the officiant. You are responsible for making sure everyone involved understands what their roles will be during the ceremony.
During the Ceremony
On the day of the wedding, your main focus is honoring the couple and their wishes. You serve as a reminder that the day is about them and the life they are starting together.
Of course, your main task is leading the ceremony itself. You are the primary speaker, and you provide direction to ensure it runs smoothly from one point to the next. The details of the service may vary from couple to couple, but there are certain parts that most ceremonies include:
- Welcoming guests
- Introducing the couple
- Leading declaration of intent
- Pronouncing the couple officially married
You may also be called upon throughout the day to answer questions and assist with the practical aspects of the wedding. This is not always necessary if there is a wedding planner involved, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared to step in to assist guests or the couple when needed.
After the Festivities
Regardless of how carefully you plan the ceremony, if the marriage license isn't signed and filed correctly, the union will not be legally binding. It's a good idea to plan for the couple and their witnesses to sign it right after the ceremony. That way, you can ensure that it's included in the day's itinerary so that the newly married pair doesn't forget about it in the midst of all the commotion and excitement.
Next, you must file the marriage license. Every state has its own rules about how to do so properly, so it's imperative that you know these laws ahead of time. There is typically a deadline for filing a license. The sooner you take care of it, the less likely it is to expire and thus be rendered void.
A wedding is meant to be a joyous occasion, and a well-prepared officiant is a key part of making that happen. By following this checklist, you are living up to the honor bestowed on you by the couple.