As spring blooms, a profusion of wedding announcements stack up in the box. Wedding season is in the air. For ministers who occupy other roles in life, preparing the ceremony for such a joyous event as matrimony calls for an extra dose of insight. Start by learning about the lives of these people who are committing their lives together. Whether they are friends you've known before or a couple you've just met, talking to them and getting to know them better is one great first step toward an unforgettable ceremony.
Being called upon to conduct a wedding is a great honor, and like most such roles, it requires a level of respect, preparation, and performance that will justify the couple's trust in you. As with any sermon or public presentation, forethought is key to getting the positive results that you imagine for the day.
While the choice of a non-traditional officiant may seem out of step with some traditions surrounding marriage, the truth is that each such event is as new as the love of the couple that comes to the altar. Whether the pastor, priest, bishop, rabbi or reverend who officiates comes from the faith of one, both, or neither of the newlyweds, there is always potential to draw on the traditions and wisdom of those who came before the happy couple.
Personal research is invaluable to the individual who will lead the ceremony. Talk to the partners and their parents, even, if you can, to learn what they see as the ideal wedding. Read a bit, on line or in books, about some of the key steps of an important ceremony such as marriage. Reach out to other ministers for advice along the way.
Part of the learning process in preparation is to get a sense of where on the spectrum of religious belief and practice the couple prefers to stand. From the opening of the ceremony to the final words, opportunities abound to insert references to divinity and higher powers as you see fit. More important than what you see fit, though, is to know how the happy couple feels about faith and matters spiritual in general. Feelings of family may be considered as well, but it is the partners to the marriage that you represent in leading the ceremony and performing the wedding.
Laws, Fees, Details
Depending on your level of experience as a minister, the regularity with which you conduct ceremonies or other services, and the area where you will be working, some practical considerations come into play. While all ordained ministers are free to conduct ceremonies and rites according to their religious dictates, local and state laws govern the legality of certain institutions such as marriage. Some jurisdictions require a permit or licensure, so be sure to learn what is required in the area well before the event is scheduled.
The question of whether to expect remuneration for ministerial services such as the work of officiating at weddings or other ceremonies is personal. It may help to consult with peers, such as on online networks, for guidance. Discuss matters frankly and clearly with the couple so that all are clear on expectations and arrangements.
Words and Intent
As a reverend presiding at the wedding, you step into an honored role with very valuable meaning to the family, friends, and of course, the couple that is to be wed. Consider all aspects of your presentation and personality with the respect and authority that the position demands. Enter the task with thorough preparation and confidence, and lead a ceremony that will be remembered fondly for many years to come. Enjoy the opportunity to socialize and meet guests and friends of the wedding party as well, and take pride in being a part of the cherished memories of a newly married couple.