How To Officiate A Wedding And Write A Ceremony Script

Being a good wedding officiant involves a bit more prep than just pronouncing them man and wife.

Reviewed by Melanie LevinMelanie Levin, Event Planner
By Harini NatarajanHarini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner  • 

Are you wondering how to find a wedding officiant or how to officiate a wedding? This article will answer all your queries.

Weddings are special moments filled with celebrations, vows, and happy tears. And couples are also not hesitating to make their weddings even more exciting adding personalized changes. From glamorous pre-wedding photoshoots to choosing an exotic venue, everything is being customized to enhance the whole experience.

One thing that’s getting rapidly popular among couples is choosing a friend or a family member to be their wedding officiant. You read it right! Couples are now turning to their loved ones to officiate their wedding. This adds a personal touch to the ceremony and saves them from the struggle to find a professional wedding officiant. So now, let’s understand how to accomplish this task.

What Is A Wedding Officiant?

A wedding officiant leads the marriage ceremony

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A wedding officiant or a marriage officiant is a person who leads the ceremony. They officiate a legal wedding ceremony and work with the couple to complete the paperwork and finalize the union.

Anyone can be a wedding officiant. They just need to get ordained to do so. Once they get an ordainment, they are legally eligible to conduct marriage ceremonies for anyone they wish to.

If you plan on becoming a wedding officiant, start the process at least a month in advance. This way, you can deal with any trouble or issue in time that may arise during the paperwork. Melanie Levin, an expert event planner from Southern California says, “I’d recommend 2-3 months minimum. Get the certification, meet with the couple, design the ceremony, learn the legal needs”.

That’s a lot of things to consider! Scroll down for more information.

How To Officiate A Wedding

Steps to officiate a wedding

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Here’s the part you have been waiting for – how to become a wedding officiant. The entire process is a bit long since it is a big responsibility. So, stay calm and read the pointers listed below.

Step 1: Do Thorough Research

Do thorough research before getting ordained

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A person cannot officiate a wedding unless the state or church authorizes them to do so. Therefore, since every state and religious organization has different rules, descriptions, classifications, and eligibility criteria, it is best to do proper research before jumping into the venture. Here are a few questions you can look for during your research:

  • What are the eligibility criteria to become a wedding officiant?
  • How long does it take to become a wedding officiant?
  • Is the organization transparent about the process?
  • What are the charges for becoming a wedding officiant?
  • Is the church or the organization founded upon principles with which you and the couple agree?
  • Does your state or country allow people who are not members of the clergy or civil servants to perform wedding ceremonies?
  • What are the legal duties associated with becoming an officiant?

Step 2: Get Ordained

Once you are sure about the organization from where you have to get ordained, it is time to take the big step – become a legal wedding officiant. Some organizations offer online ordination. You need to follow the instructions and get ordained online. Just Google ‘Online ordination’, and you will get the desired websites right away. Make sure you start the process about 2-3 months early to have enough time to gather the documents or resolve any issue.

Step 3: Plan The Ceremony

The real job of a wedding officiant begins right after getting the ordination. The person has to consult with the couple to figure out what kind of ceremony they want. For instance, does the couple want the ceremony to be formal or informal? Religious or secular?

The wedding officiant must also learn more about the couple, their love story, friendship, and memories. If you wonder why, recall what we talked about this new trend of officiating the wedding by a closed one. The couple wants to have a personalized touch to the ceremony.

Also, since the wedding officiant has to write a proper script for the ceremony, the couple’s secret jokes and tales will help them create a perfect one. “I’d recommend adding “research any religious ceremonies that might be unfamiliar”, Melanie Levin adds. She also suggests getting clarity regarding the processional/recession format that will be followed— how they will walk up and down the aisle and where each will stand during the ceremony according to religion or preference.

Quick Tip

Do not hesitate to reach out to the couple’s relatives and friends to prepare a special script. Take all the help and inspiration to make it a truly personal experience for the couple.

Step 4: Perform The Ceremony

A friend officiating the wedding ceremony for a couple

Image: Shutterstock

Run through the wedding script one last time and begin the ceremony. Remember to add in any announcements that the couple would like you to make before or after the ceremony, such as directing guests to cocktail hour or asking everyone to turn their phones off. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can hear you. Go by all the rules and traditions (in case you are following a specific one). If you have not memorized the script, keep a printed copy with you.

Usually, you can legalize the marriage by speaking the Declaration of Intent, or “Do you take…” and “I do” exchange. You can also use the Pronouncement where the officiant pronounces the couple as officially married.

Quick Tip

For the ceremony to go smoothly, as the officiant, ensure that other elements of the ceremony are taken care of. The rings, musicians, and technical arrangements – all of it is part of your role.

Step 5: The After-Wedding Tasks

The wedding does not end with the script and pronouncement. To finally officiate the wedding, the minister or wedding officiant and the couple have to sign the marriage license. In some states and localities, witnesses also have to sign the wedding ceremony.

Once everyone has signed, return the license to the country’s clerk office. The wedding becomes official and legal after all the paperwork is done and submitted.

Be careful about what you will say on the big day if you are a wedding officiant. Though wedding ceremonies have a standard format, customizing the words and tone and incorporating creative rituals can leave the couple and guests laughing, crying, and excited about what’s coming next. So, read on for quick tips that will inspire you and make your speech stand out.

What Do You Say When You Officiate A Wedding?

Prepare a memorable wedding script to officiate a wedding

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Writing a memorable wedding ceremony script is a tough task. You have to prepare a script that complements the wedding theme and feels relatable for the couple. Here are some ideas you can try while deciding what to say during the ceremony:

  • Start with welcoming sentences.
  • Share a story about the couple or ask the couple to do so.
  • You can also share your personal memory with the couple or express how much they mean to you.
  • Read a short poem or a dialogue from a book or movie close to the couple.

Still not sure how to write a memorable wedding ceremony script? Worry not! We have the perfect thing for you. Go through the basic guidelines about writing a wedding ceremony script. You can customize them according to the wedding theme and couple’s choice. You are the chosen one, so be creative!

How To Write A Memorable Ceremony Script

  • Welcome: Begin with a short welcoming speech for the family, friends, and guests and thank them for assembling to support the couple.
  • Reading: Begin the introduction by either reading a quote or sharing the couple’s love story. You can also read from a religious text if it is a traditional wedding.
  • Vows Exchange: Ask the couple to exchange their vows and declare their promise to love each other for a lifetime.
  • Blessing: It is time to exchange rings. Bless or wish them a happy union.
  • Conclusion And Pronouncement: Declare that the couple is married by the power vested in you. Also, announce the bride and the groom as wedded partners and welcome a kiss.

Officiating a wedding for your loved ones is a huge honor, and this guide will help you succeed with this responsibility. Make sure you practice and plan for a smooth process. The job of a wedding officiant comes with some tricky rules (not the kind you can break), so brush up your public speaking and rehearse the ceremony.

To officiate a wedding, the first thing you need to do is get ordained. This means researching the eligibility criteria, organizations, and local laws. Getting ordained also involves paperwork, so it is important to start the process well ahead. Discussions with the couple on what they want for the wedding ceremony are next. This helps you get insight into their love story and understand their vision for their wedding day. The third step is to prepare and practice what you want to say. The couple’s declaration of intent and proclamation by the officiant are the most typical ways to wed a couple. In addition, you also need to preside over the signing of official wedding documents for the marriage certificate. And then, that’s a wrap.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a wedding officiant introduce themselves?

Yes, the wedding officiant should briefly introduce themselves to the audience. The introduction can serve as an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the officiant’s speech.

Does the officiant walk down the aisle to music?

Yes, the officiant is part of the wedding processional and traditionally walks down the aisle second, after the bride’s mother initiates the procession. However, the processional depends largely on the religion and customs being followed for the ceremony. For instance, in some cases, the wedding officiant leads the procession instead of the mother. Music may or may not be part of the procession, depending on individual preferences.

What is the difference between a marriage commissioner and an officiant?

A wedding officiant is a trained and licensed professional who can perform religious and secular weddings. They write their ceremony script and spend more time with the couple to get to know them, help with their vows, and take their input for the officiant’s speech. On the other hand, a marriage commissioner does not require any training and reads out a preapproved ceremonial speech. Marriage commissioners do not conduct religious ceremonies, though they are qualified to perform secular marriages.

Key Takeaways

  • To be a wedding officiant, one has to get ordained, which means they are legally eligible for marriage ceremonies.
  • Officiating a wedding is a process that involves research, planning, organizing, and conducting even post-wedding tasks.
  • A memorable ceremony script should also be prepared after a consultation, including welcome, vows, blessing, and conclusion.
  • It is always better to do rehearsals of the ceremony before to avoid any mess.
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