I have been reading many message boards with inquiries about what do wedding officiants do? After all the average ceremony is about 30-60 minutes right? No, the illusion the officiant walks in reads the perfect ceremony they have read for many ceremonies over time. and they leave. Officiants bring more than this to a wedding.
The dominant portion of the wedding ceremonies I do these days are non-religious, secular language, a spiritual feeling, intimate, and personalized. They are often for couples with difference faith walks, couples who have families who are religious and they themselves are not, and couples who just want an incredibly beautiful ceremony specific for them. They are not cookie cutter weddings.
Let’s look at what goes into a non-religious, secular wedding ceremony:
- Let’s start with first things first…you are inviting people to come to your special ceremony. YOUR special day! The officiant is the number one key person performing this job! The officiant keeps the ceremony focused on you. Your ceremony is the reason you are there!
- Officiants have to research and have available a variety of ceremony formats, styles, readings, poetry, music, and so on. They are the person supporting you in creating your special day. They have also gone through years of training and such to be good public speakers and writers.
- A good officiant is great with your guests! Greeting and engaging in dialogue with guests is important.
- Officiants almost never deliver the same ceremony. The basic format is the only thing similar and even then depending on the couple the format can change.
- Your ceremony is filled with things that are meaningful to you as a couple. Not to anyone else.
- Guests can be as participatory in the service as you wish. Do you want a circle dance, a time when they affirm their support of your journey publicly, or do you want to have they inscribe a keepsake during the ceremony? These all can get woven into personal ceremonies.
- Anything you dream you would love to have happen or be spoken can be incorporated. You have no real “rules” about how it all should go. You can have age old traditions from ancient times to a variety of candle ceremonies, sand ceremonies on beaches, knot tying ceremonies, or even use a portion of your ceremony to honor deceased parents or ancestors.
- Officiants spend hours writing personalized ceremonies. They meet with you in person, talk on the phone with you, email ceremonies back and forth and so on just to have your day be perfectly crafted. They are the people speaking to your guests your dreams as you come together.
- The officiant makes sure your paperwork for your marriage is in order so your marriage can be legal. They make sure and it is the job to send in all final paperwork to the state.
- Your officiant will more than likely need to drive to your ceremony space, spend money on gas, fees, taxes, and other things related to supporting couples. If an officiant has a distance to travel, hotel and meal fees may be necessary. Officiating weddings is a trade people train for and specialize in.
- How did you find your officiant? Online? A local venue hosting your ceremony? Today, those having secular ceremonies are not turning to religious venues to find an someone to do their wedding. So officiants, justice of the peace, and ministers who are not part of specific parishes need to use tools to market themselves or let you know they are out here.
- Imagine how it will feel to hear from your guests how beautiful and special the ceremony was not just that day but in the weeks and years to come. Your ceremony kicks the spirit of the day off. You ceremony is why you have invited every one.
If you are looking to really focus on you ceremony than officiants can do this. You need to look at whether you want a cookie cutter style, flash in the pan ceremony or do you want to have the words spoken on your special day to make a difference and inspire those loved ones surrounding you for the ceremony? What ever style you choose, have it be special. That is what I strive for in the ceremonies I create with couples.
Be well and have fun crafting your special day.