Those interested in learning how to perform a wedding can simplify the process into two steps. This guide will help you officiate weddings legally and share tips to help you write a marriage ceremony script.
We have also included some valuable learnings for those first-time officiating a wedding. And for a more in-depth guide on getting ordained, read how to be a wedding officiant.
How To Perform A Wedding Legally
Step 1. Accomplish the legalities to officiate a wedding
- The first step in performing a wedding is to ensure that you know and accomplish all the legal requirements to solemnize or officiate a wedding in the US
- Check your state’s legal requirements and laws to perform a wedding; for example, will you register at the state level or go to individual counties?
- Typically, you’ll get ordained first, get the credentials, and then present the license to your local officials
- As for legal ordination, check online interfaith religious organizations; even those who don’t consider themselves religious are welcome to get ordained
- However, some states might deny officiants who get ordained online; Tennessee, for example, does not allow online ordained ministers to solemnize weddings
- Finally, remember that the wedding officiant has to submit the marriage license to the county clerk after the wedding ceremony
Step 2. Plan with the couple to write their ultimate wedding ceremony
- After accomplishing the legalities to perform a marriage legally in your state, the next step is talking with the couple who wants you to officiate their wedding; some couples have their friend or relative perform their wedding ceremony
- Performing a marriage involves writing a wedding ceremony script; therefore, be familiar with the couple’s story and ask about the structure they want for their wedding
- You can follow a traditional marriage ceremony or include other elements like readings and unity ceremonies, depending on the couple
- You can also look up different wedding ceremonies if you have no idea what to include in the ceremony
- After writing the ceremony script, discuss it with the couple to ensure that both parties are satisfied; you’re also expected to attend the wedding rehearsal since you’ll guide the people involved in the ceremony on what to do and where to stand
What Do You Say When Performing A Wedding?
One of the things you must learn when you officiate a wedding is the flow of a typical wedding ceremony. This way, you can prepare the script beforehand, and even first-time officiants can feel less nervous performing the wedding.
It would be best if you also discussed the ceremony that the couple wants for their wedding. Of course, they might want to include different elements and traditions; regardless, here’s a sample wedding ceremony script to give you an idea:
The introductory remarks or the welcome statement is when you’ll welcome the guests for coming to the couple’s union. You will also give a short speech regarding the wedding’s purpose and the couple’s love and commitment to each other.
Depending on the type of wedding ceremony, the couple may request for a friend or family to do a reading before the ceremony. It can be about the couple’s choice of being united forever or about love and thoughts about marriage.
The next part of the ceremony is the exchange of vows. Again, you’ll discuss the flow and wording with the couple, typically using the script familiar to weddings where they promise each other that they’ll be together in sickness and health.
Declaration of intent
After the vow exchange is the declaration of intent. It is where the officiant will ask the groom, then the bride, if they take their partner to be their lawfully wedded wife or husband.
The officiant should also discuss the symbolism behind the ring exchange. It can also be another unity ceremony, whichever the couple prefers for their wedding.
Pronouncement of marriage
The final part of the wedding ceremony is when the officiant declares that the couple is officially married. Then, don’t forget to present the newlyweds to the guest and keep the marriage license for returning to where it was issued.
Tips For First Time Officiating A Wedding
Will it be your first time officiating a marriage ceremony? If you’re never performed a wedding before, here are some valuable tips to prepare you and help you gain confidence regarding this role:
- Check your state’s marriage laws regarding who can legally officiate a wedding to ensure that the wedding you officiated will be recognized
- Consider asking tips from other people who were ordained and performed a wedding
- Prepare a wedding ceremony script and discuss with the couple what they want to include in the ceremony
- Get to know the couple more to be inspired when writing your script
- Practice speaking in front of the mirror or record yourself with a video camera
- Maintain proper posture when practicing speaking
- Have a practice audience to alleviate nerves regarding public speaking
- Know what to wear to officiate a wedding to look formal
And that’s it! To recap how to perform a wedding, accomplish all the legalities, and discuss the ceremony script with the couple.
Furthermore, it’s best to familiarize yourself with what happens during a wedding ceremony and research the standard script for officiants to help you practice. This should help you gain confidence, especially when speaking in front of many people.