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Officiant Spotlight - What your officiant should be doing during your ceremony

Your wedding officiant plays a crucial role on your wedding day. We’ve all been to weddings where we’ve shuddered at the officiant’s words or actions. As an experienced professional wedding officiant, I’m here to suggest some things that should be considered for your ceremony.

 

Your officiant SHOULD:

 

Have a script. I was recently told about a wedding where the person performing a wedding ceremony talked about politics and an impending civil war. This was in a church. Your officiant should have a script, they should not go off script, and they should not ad-lib. It’s not the time or the place.

 

Speak to your DJ (or whoever is providing music) about music queues. It helps to make everything go smoothly. They will want to know what the last word will be before they start the processional music, and what to do at the end.

 

Make an unplugged announcement before your ceremony even starts! Have them walk to the front, alone, to say hello and make that unplugged announcement. You don’t want to see anyone’s phone up in the air taking pictures or videos in your professional photos. Here’s my favorite unplugged announcement: “Hello everyone! Before we begin, I’d like to remind everyone to please silence your cell phones and refrain from taking photos. Our photographer will capture how this moment looks. I invite all of you to capture how this moment feels with your hearts. Thank you.” It’s a simple and polite way to get the message across.


Have you face each other and join hands. The maid of honor will hold your flowers throughout the ceremony, handing them back before you exit. Looking at each other with your hands joined throughout your ceremony will calm your nerves.

 Ask everyone to rise. Saying “please rise if you’re able” is a respectful way to guide the guests into standing for the entrance of the bride. I would recommend that they confirm this with the couple. I’ve had a couple of instances when the bride did NOT want anyone to stand. If that’s the case, they can add it to the end of the unplugged announcement: “Sara has requested that you remain seated during her entrance.”

 

Ask everyone to “please be seated”. Your officiant should be saying this after the bride is escorted (or walks alone) to the front of the ceremony space (or whenever it works best in their ceremony – as long as they don’t forget.) I’ve attended weddings as a guest where the officiant forgets to tell people to sit down. It’s awkward.

 


Hold your vows. Whether you’ve written them down, or your officiant has created vow books, have the officiant hold them until the time comes so you’re not digging in your pockets for a crumpled piece of paper.

 


Have a tissue or handkerchief available should either of you need it. I prefer a handkerchief – if they use it, they can keep it!

 

Move aside at certain points during the ceremony. They can move aside (if it’s feasible) for the ring exchange, vows (only if the couple is reading them – not for repeat after me vows), and especially for the first kiss. No one wants a floating head in their first kiss picture.

 

Stay out of the aisle photography. After the ceremony ends, they should keep the wedding party (and themselves) out of the aisle as the couple is exiting back down the aisle. Once the couple is out of the aisle, or the photographer is finished taking photos, the officiant can move back to center and have couples join up to exit.

 

Make a cocktail hour announcement. After the couple and the wedding party exits, the wedding officiant should still be at the front. It’s the perfect time to tell the guests what to do next. “Joe and Sara invite you to enjoy cocktail hour. They will join you shortly.” I often add “please allow the family members in the front row to exit first. Thank you.” I think it’s respectful, and people need a gentle reminder.

 

Every wedding officiant does things a little differently, but these are some basic things that really help to create a meaningful and memorable ceremony that reflects the couple’s values, beliefs, and personalities.

 

Please reach out if you’re in need of a professional officiant or a professionally written ceremony!

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Cleveland Wedding Officiant
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Wedding Day Management (Day of Coordinator)

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