I had a fascinating experience this past Saturday as I was officiating a wedding, and I want to tell you about it.
It was pouring rain. The wedding was outdoors, on a platform with a canopy overhead and side fabric panels. The wedding party and I had to exit a building, and proceed down a brick path (in the rain) to the platform under the canopy for the ceremony.
We were scheduled to start in five minutes. I decided to do a little exercise in intention to try to give us a dry entrance. So, I stepped out under the overhang and I sent a message to the Universe for it to stop raining briefly beginning in 5 minutes, and then it could resume again. I was not joking, or asking, pleading, wishing, or hoping. I was intending and expecting for this to be exactly so. (Note: this really works for me.)
And then, in exactly two minutes, the Day of Coordinator sent me, and the wedding party out to begin the ceremony. Three minutes too early. We ran out in the rain and got into place. The rain stopped. I was annoyed and happy at the same time. It had done what I asked, but didn’t help achieve what I had really wanted.
The rain started again, heavily. As the ceremony continued, about 10 minutes in, I had a short passage to read acknowledging the grandparents of the bride and groom who were joining us in Spirit, shining their love over this ceremony. As soon as I said that, “BOOM!” the thunder clapped loudly. Every one of the guests yelled out “Woah!!”
We could say it’s a coincidence. We could say that was weird. But I see the big picture.
First of all, I got what I asked for. It stopped raining exactly when I had intended. Unfortunately, that was not the time we entered for the processional.
Then, the Universe, or the ancestors of the wedding couple, sent a little bit of applause to say thank you for the mention.
If we had entered later, without the rain, that thunder would have hit a different, and less impactful, part of the ceremony. This moment became a powerful memory. Now it’s part of a wedding day story that this couple will share for years to come.
It was all perfect.
At this point, I’ve officiated more than 60 weddings, with many more to come this year. I’m also starting to get booked for 2018, so that’s exciting!
Here are some tips for those who are interested in knowing how to be a wedding officiant:
Make sure you’re licensed.
Different states have different laws about who can officiate, and what sort of registration is needed. It’s easy to find what you need online, so do your homework! You might need to register with a form and a fee. You might need to bring certain documentation with you. So, before you sign a couple’s wedding license, be sure you have done your prep work!
Meet with the couple.
Find out their story. Let them tell you about their ideas for their wedding. They might want a certain prayer, or ritual, or they might want the bride’s sister to sing a song. Listen to them first.
The Legal Minimum
- Legally speaking, usually the things that make a wedding legal are the couple agreeing they want to marry each other, and signing the license. That means that you can be as creative as the couple wishes with the ceremony.
Make it Genuine!
- The ceremony doesn’t have to be stiff, formal, or solemn! This is a joyful day. It’s about love. Have some moments of laughter. This isn’t a performance – it’s a sharing of a special moment that bonds this couple in marriage.
Be a Resource!
- Stay informed about new and fresh readings and ceremony additions. For example, a Ring Warming Ceremony is lovely to do with a guest list of about 60. A Wine Box Ceremony is a new and touching inclusion in a ceremony. Read up on the wedding websites so you can offer your ocuple unique touches for their ceremony.
Get a Picture!
- Get a picture with the couple on your cell phone before you leave. With the couple’s permission, pictures make your website and social media stand out and show the varieties of weddings you perform. If you can get a video too – that’s a huge bonus! You never know how long until, or even IF, the photographer will have a picture for you.
Want personal guidance from me?
I have recently been approached by several new officiants for guidance. So, I created an online class called How to Get Started Officiating Weddings. Check it out if you’d like more guidance.
Contact me if you’d like my help, or if you’d like me to schedule the class to meet your availability.
2016 is my first year as a wedding officiant! I’ve been booked for 20 weddings, so I hit the ground running. Here are some things I’ve learned this year.
I have a folder for each couple, and a spreadsheet on my computer. The folders are in a big expandable folder case, in order of date. When the wedding has happened, I shift that couple’s folder to the back and move everything else up to the front. I also label every email with “weddings” so they’re easy to find. I have a timeline for each couple, based on their needs. This system has been very helpful!
Have a process.
I created an initial packet that helps me interview each couple, to find out their story, their vision for their wedding, and go over the standard elements of a wedding, allowing them to understand and customize their wishes. I also have a large number of resources for creative greetings, vows, and wedding elements such as a Ring Warming Ceremony, that I show them and let them consider after our meeting. It’s a great way to start. I follow every meeting with an email recapping our meeting and next steps.
Create a Script.
My final script has everything that will be said, and all “stage directions” – who will stand where, what props will be moved or used (including who will hold the bouquet and rings, where extras will be, if there will be a microphone, and when music will begin or change), from the very beginning through giving the guests directions on where to go after the ceremony.
Have a music stand.
My music stand is a nice one, and it holds my notebook neatly in front of me, making my hands free to hold a microphone if needed, or to gesture. I learned this after I did an outdoor wedding, in high wind, and was given a karaoke microphone, needed to give the brides their vows, and be heard over loud airplanes! It was a lot to juggle, and so, I now know that using the stand would have helped me not need to hold the notebook with my script in it and try to navigate it all!
Things change, sometimes on the fly. A wedding will start late, or the music won’t work, the groom might cry, or sweat profusely, or say something unintentionally funny. Be ready to roll with the changes, and adapt in the moment. Don’t take it all seriously, but be lighthearted and have fun. This is love – not a funeral, after all!