How to officiate a wedding: Here’s how you’ll be judged by vendors and guests
Studies have consistently shown that audience ratings of a lecture are more strongly influenced by delivery style than by content. I’d love to tell you that my ceremony material is all you need to do a great job, but that wouldn’t be correct. I made the video training and offer 1-on-1 coaching to help with this.
“When our verbal and nonverbal signals are in congruence, the nonverbal amplifies the verbal. When they conflict, we tend to trust the nonverbal.” Olivia Fox Cabane from her book, The Charisma Myth.
Wedding guests will judge your appearance, posture, voice fluctuation, how often you look up from the page you’re reading from, and in other ways. Fluctuating your voice by pitch (high or low), volume (loud or soft), tone (resonant or hollow), tempo (fast or slow), or rhythm (fluid or staccato) are all ways to improve your stage presence and overall success of your ceremony.
My “cheat sheets” have words underlined so you not only know where to inflect your voice in some way, but will also be able to keep your place as you look up and then back down at the page you’re reading from.
It’s important to look up and speak to the guests and the couple. Staring at your ceremony book and reading will come off as insincere and will seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. The goal is to speak to people in a conversational way, not read to them.
It’s important to remember that you’re also making an impression on the bride and groom’s families. So, smile at them and make sure they know that you’re happy for them.
The other wedding vendors will be watching you too. The DJ will notice if you aren’t holding the handheld microphone close enough to your face so everyone can hear you.
The photographer will notice if you don’t get out of the photo when the couple kisses, after you pronounce them husband and wife or a married couple. Don’t be creepy and photo bomb their kiss!
The venue coordinator will be watching to see if you are easy to work with and if you know what you’re doing when signing their marriage license. If you’re unsure when you see the license, READ IT BEFORE WRITING ON IT!
There are plenty of newbie ordained minister mistakes, that I detailed in a different article here. If this will be the first time you officiate a wedding, be sure to read that article. It will help you look more like a pro.
Also be sure to read my article, How to manage unexpected noise and distractions, here.
How to officiate a wedding: Here’s how wedding guests will judge you
Matt T. Nathanson, 1st Officiant
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