How to officiate a wedding: What if you and your couple disagree on parts of the ceremony?
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen to me all that often. You’ve been asked to officiate a wedding, but at the end of the day, it’s their ceremony and should be the way your couple wants it. It’s a presentation of their truth, not yours or mine.
However, I’ll offer my honest guidance away from anything that might embarrass them or someone in attendance. I’m generally careful with sarcasm because not everyone gets it, overly religious content that might make people uncomfortable, or readings that I just don’t like. If your couple selects a reading that you can’t read and sound as if you genuinely mean it, suggest they have a friend or family member come up to read it.
BUT, having too many guest readers is a fairly common issue. I find that it’s best to call for a round of applause after a guest reader finishes. It kills the dead air and allows them to feel comfortable as they return to their seat after reading. Calling for a round of applause more than twice is redundant, so I ask couples to have no more than two guest readers.
Couples sometimes provide me with ceremony material they found online. I usually cringe inside because the material is usually traditional and often sounds like Shakespeare, but I do my best to meld the material they found with my own and to honor their request. Don’t be afraid to re-word what they gave you. It’s possible to say the same thing, but worded in a way that will allow you to sound more genuine as it’s coming out of your mouth.
How to officiate a wedding: I find it helpful to remember that I am the couple’s trusted servant, who was asked to officiate because they’re confident I’ll do a good job. My ego must be kept in check. It’s their wedding and their day so I do my best to be flexible and to allow it to go down the way they envision.
Be sure to check out my next article, where I’ll give away my wedding rehearsal guide. Click here. Until then, stay well!
Matt T. Nathanson, 1st Officiant
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