How to officiate a wedding: How to reduce your and your couple’s stress level
Your sanity and stress level matters too! You want to bring your A-game and it’s a team effort, you and your couple. Let them know how important their participation is, and they’ll likely respect the deadlines you give them.
1) Ask your couple to return their ceremony outline to you within two weeks. Tell them that they’re welcome to make changes at any time. This will allow them to check an item off their to-do list and I find that without a firm deadline, it doesn’t always get done. You’re working as a team with your couple and it’s okay to hold them responsible for certain things. They’ve asked you to officiate because they trust you’ll do a great job and the follow-up will show them that you care.
2) If they’re searching for ceremony material that you didn’t provide them with, ask them to get you that material no later than 30 days before their wedding. You might not need that much time, but allowing them to procrastinate might result in last-minute stress for you.
3) Be sure to email their ceremony out for one final look before their wedding. Sometimes people have a change of heart and switch a reading or change imagery. I usually send it out 30 days before their ceremony. 99% of the time, couples give the thumbs up and no changes are made.
4) If they’ve opted to include imagery, like the letter box, wine box or blessing tree, make a note on your calendar and call or email 30 days before their ceremony to make sure they’ve purchased whatever supplies they might need. If you sign up as an affiliate with Amazon.com you can get paid for suggesting items, like this unity candle. There are lots of other affiliate programs, from invitations to honeymoon travel.
5) Email your couple two weeks prior to their ceremony to confirm their wedding date/start time/venue and colors. Things change and I’ve been left out of the loop more than once.
6) If they write their own vows, have your couple email them to you ahead of time, two weeks is good. This will allow you to have them in your ceremony book as backup and will also allow you to act as a guide, in case they’re substantially off-balanced. Quite often the bride’s vows are longer than the groom’s and he usually has more jokes.
7) Call a few days before their wedding to say hello and to remind them to bring their supplies for imagery, marriage license and their rings!
8) If you accept the responsibility of mailing their signed license into the appropriate county recorder’s office, be sure to make a copy or take a photo first. I’ve had several go missing in the mail and nobody wants to deal with that.
Don’t be afraid to give your couple deadlines. Just phrase it in a way that makes them feel like part of your team. Couples leave lots of online reviews and many have said that my follow-up was valuable. Giving them ‘due-dates’ actually made their lives easier. My goal is for every couple to have as little stress as possible the week of their wedding. I make sure they know that. I tell them directly when we meet. I say, “I don’t want any of the stress the week of your wedding to have anything to do with me or this process. Getting things done by certain dates will undoubtedly help you.”
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Matt T. Nathanson, 1st Officiant
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