11 Tips on Being a Great Wedding Officiant

Learn how to preside over your friend's vow exchange.

11 Tips on Being a Great Wedding Officiant

Ceremony & Traditions
Photo: Kim Fox Photography

As more and more couples elect to have a secular wedding, choosing a friend or family member to officiate the ceremony continues to be a popular option. It’s one way to add a personal touch to your vow exchange, and saves you from having to search for a professional officiant that feels right to you and your future spouse. The biggest downside is that, unless the person you ask is a popular choice in your circle, they are likely to be inexperienced in presiding over a wedding ceremony.

bride and groom at vibiana wedding ceremony purple lighting female officiant
Photo by Kim Fox Photography; Floral Design by Flowers by Cina; Rentals by Luxe Linen; Venue: Vibiana

Whether you have recently been asked to officiate a friend’s union or you want to help the loved one you chose prepare, these tips will help make sure the ceremony is as beautiful as the love of the soon-to-be-newlyweds. 

- The tone is as important as what you say. Make good eye contact, try to smile, and maintain positive body language.
- Get ordained sooner rather than later – just in case something goes wrong. The Universal Life Church is the most common choice, but check with the couple to see if they have a preference – there are many options!
- Triple check all of the requirements of the state and municipality of the wedding to make sure the marriage is legal.
- Make sure the expectations of the pair are clear. Are they writing their script, are you responsible for it, or will you be writing it together?
- Keep the focus on the couple. No matter how well you know them, it may be helpful to ask them a few questions about their relationship to fill in the gaps.
- Add personal tidbits – that’s the whole point of having a friend officiate!
- Practice, practice, practice. Say it in the mirror; say it on camera; read it to a couple of friends. You want to be super comfortable with your speech.
- Ask for a copy of their vows, in case either of them forgets their copy. You can also use them as inspiration and make sure your planned service is not redundant.
- Have a printed copy available in case technology fails you.
- Remember to tell everyone to be seated once you begin the service.
- When the big day is all over, mail the marriage certificate to make everything official!

For more ideas, discover wedding details you don't want to forget, learn what you may choose to cut from your ceremony, and discover the dos and don'ts of writing your own vows

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