by Linda DiProperzio
An officiant plays a crucial role in a couple’s wedding day. Not only does the officiant oversee the wedding ceremony, but they also help to create the overall atmosphere of the couple’s vows, keeping guests engaged and make everything you saw meaningful to the soon-to-be newlyweds. If you are a first-time wedding officiant, you might be looking for some advice on how to put together a speech to remember for all the right reasons. And if you’re a couple searching for someone to marry you, you might know where to start. We are covering all of these bases so read on for plenty of helpful tips and wedding speech inspiration!
How to find the perfect wedding officiant for your big day
Decide what kind of ceremony you want
Do you want a religious ceremony or a secular one? If you’re both committed to a religious service, then your church, synagogue or mosque is the best place to start. If you’re getting married in another destination, you can reach out to local places of worship.
Ask someone who knows you well
One way to ensure a personalized wedding ceremony is to ask someone who knows you—either individually or (even better) as a couple—to perform your wedding ceremony. This can be a member of your religious institution, or a family member or close friend who is ordained as an officiant.
If you don’t know where to start with your search, ask recently married friends or family members for their recommendations. Your wedding planner or venue should also be able to help with some suggestions.
Do your own research
Browse through officiants by location here, and then search for online reviews. You can also reach out to wedding officiants that look like a possible match and request to see videos of them in action. That’s really the best way to determine if their speaking style matches with the vibe you’re hoping for during your wedding ceremony.
Meet in person
It’s super important to meet with a potential wedding officiant before hiring them. If you cannot do it in person, set up a virtual meet and greet.
If you have never officiated a wedding before, here's how to do it
Being a first-time wedding officiant can be stressful. After all, you’re playing such an important role in the couple’s day, and the last ting you want to do is mess up in any way. Don’t worry—this is how you can officiate a wedding without breaking a sweat.
Let guests know who you are and give them a little tidbit about your officiant career (for example, you have been officiating weddings for more than a decade, or this is the first wedding you’ve ever done).
Explain your connection with the couple
Go into detail about how well you know the couple. There is a reason why they chose you to be their officiant, so allow guests in on that special connection.
Make it personal
What is it about this couple that makes their relationship so special? When putting together their wedding vows, what have you learned about them? How does their love impress you? This is such a beautiful event, so personal anecdotes about the couple will go a long way.
Listen to the couple
The wedding is all about the people getting married, so be sure to talk to them about what kind of ceremony they want. Some couples want something short and sweet while others would like longer vows. Whichever it is, work closely with them to come up with the right balance.
Show some personality
While no one is expecting you to put on a comedy show, you want guests to know you’re happy to be there. Showing some enthusiasm, whether it’s through a quick (and clean) joke or an anecdote about something fun you learned about the couple will help engage everyone in attendance.
Dos and don'ts
Do let guests know who you are
Take the time to introduce yourself and inform guests about your connection with the couple.
Don’t make it about yourself
Make that intro short—you want to keep the focus on the couple as much as possible.
Do make sure you have paperwork in order
Before you commit to officiating a wedding, confirm that you have fulfilled all of the necessary requirements in the state where the couple will say I do.
Don’t skip an in-person meeting
It’s always a good idea to meet with a potential couple in person if you can. There is nothing like a face-to-face conversation to find out how well you all get along. If you cannot meet in-person, then set up a virtual chat.
Do write out the ceremony
Even if you’ve performed dozens of ceremonies, each one should have its own individual style. With that in mind, be sure to write down any special words or memories you’d like to share during the vows.
Don’t read from a tablet or phone
You’re better off with old-fashioned paper or cards than standing at the altar staring at a screen. It simply looks rude.
Do attend the rehearsal
There are some officiants that will have an assistant take care of the rehearsal, but you really should be present to go over any last-minute changes or questions the couple might have for you.
Don’t be late
It goes without saying, but make sure you are at the ceremony location well before the event starts.
Do give guests instructions
Ask the couple if there are any special requests they want you to announce before the ceremony starts, such as putting away their phones, and don’t be shy about giving them other directives, including when to stand for the bride and when to applaud after the first kiss.
Wedding ceremony template
While every ceremony should be customized for the couple you’ll be marrying, there are some basic points to make throughout the vows. These include:
Begin by welcoming the guests and making any required announcements from the couple, such as asking everyone to put away their phones or not to post any photos on social media.
The music will usually signal that the wedding party is going to start making their way down the aisle. You might want to direct guests to stand just before the bride (or groom) walks down the aisle if there are concern they won’t do it on their own. And don’t forget to tell everyone to sit down when the ceremony is about to begin.
This is when you will talk about the couple and their love and commitment for one another. Hopefully you have had a chance to get to know them a bit so you can tailor your words to their personalities.
The couple’s vows
You will now ask the couple to exchange their vows, whether they have written their own or you will direct them on what to say.
Exchange of rings
As the couple exchange their wedding rings, you can direct them to confirm their commitment with one another with a phrase such as “I give you this ring as a sign of my love.”
Declare the couple officially married—and then ask them to kiss!
Wish the newlyweds well and make any last announcements for the couple, such as directing guests to the cocktail hour.
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