How to officiate a wedding: What to do when someone faints or throws up
I’ve officiated weddings for ten years as of this writing, and only within the last year have I experienced people throwing up or fainting during the ceremony.
In the audio clip below, the bride came down the aisle with her mom and then barfed out of nervousness before I really said anything. She handled it like an absolute champ, but was certainly embarrassed nonetheless.
The audio sample is below, so you can hear how I handled a bride throwing up.
The best man fainted TWICE during the audio sample below, once during the ring exchange and then just two minutes later as I started their pronouncement. Fortunately, the bride’s aunt was a nurse and she rushed out of her seat to help.
To hear how I handled someone fainting during a ceremony, click the audio below.
If you want to really know how to officiate a wedding when someone faints or throws up, my advice is to…
1) Instruct the couple and their bridal party to eat a little before the ceremony. Don’t suggest they pig out, just have a little something in their stomachs.
2) STAY CALM! Your energy is contagious and if you freak out, you’ll make it much worse for the wedding participants.
3) Tell the person who’s experiencing the upset to squeeze their toes inside their shoes. This naturally grounds us and brings our conscious awareness back to the present moment.
4) Instruct the person who’s in trouble to BREATHE. Tell the person who’s experiencing the upset to take full, deep breaths.
5) Ask a guest or someone in the bridal party to get water for whoever’s about to pass out or throw up.
6) Get a cold, damp towel or handkerchief for their forehead or to wipe their mouth and clean up.
7) Act like it’s no big deal! The person who experienced the upset is undoubtedly embarrassed and if you remain calm and act like it’s no big deal, their embarrassment will be diminished and you’ll look like a pro. Celebrate their recovery and ask the guests for applause.!
Having a bunch of people clap for you feels great, even when you’re embarrassed. That person will then know that his/her guests love and support them and then the ice has been officially broken before the ceremony even started. It’ll be way more comfortable for the fainter/barfer when first walking into their reception.
8) Give them a mint. Man do I wish I remembered that I had Altoids in my pocket! I carry a small tin of Altoids to hand out to the couple and their bridal party before walking into a ceremony. I would’ve looked even more professional, but it was my first time experiencing something like this and I forgot that the mints were there.
Fortunately, I’ve never had anyone faint during a ceremony so I don’t know how I’d handle it, other than the way I did in the previous example. I think the 8 steps above work equally well for someone who faints, as long as they don’t hit their head on the ground. If they hit their head, seek medical attention!
Weddings are live events and so they don’t always go as planned. The best way to handle unexpected things is to act like you’ve seen it before and that it’s not a big deal. Stay calm, THEN ACT.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you’d like to know the other ways to handle unexpected distractions during a ceremony, click here.
If you’d like to know other helpful tips while at the ceremony, click here.
Matt T. Nathanson, 1st Officiant
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