Being asked to officiate a wedding is an immense honor – but it also comes with enormous pressure. St. Louis Best Bridal spoke with experienced celebrant Rev. Judi Davis of Wonder Weddings on the ins and outs of becoming an officiant.
“My partner and I […] take great pleasure in telling love stories through [each couple’s] eyes,” Davis says. “It’s the ability to be articulate who they are, who they’ve become as a couple and who they hope to be in the future [that makes a good officiant].”
First step, get ordained online. Then, for first-timers especially, she recommends outlining a simple ceremony, which includes the marriage vows and pronouncement of marriage.
“Find out your couple’s vision,” she recommends. “Anything they absolutely do or do not want to have in the ceremony, and anything in particular they want to share that they feel is insightful about them.”
From there, you can enhance the ceremony with rituals, such as vows of unity and memorials, or further personalize by incorporating children and pets.
Keep in mind whether traditional roles are embraced by the couple or if your text needs updating. From removing phrases such as “obey” and adapting to “who brings this bride to be wed?” to asking how the couple prefers to be introduced, there are many ways to contemporize the nuptials.
However you layer the ceremony, explain each element to the couple before their big day. Another oft included ritual is a reading by one or more guests, which can be pulled from scripture, literature and more.
“The point of the readings is to reveal who the bride and groom are,” Davis says. “They tell you about where their values and focus lie. I always tell [the couple] to choose someone who is gregarious because readers oftentimes cannot be heard.”
Check with your couple on the availability of a microphone but be ready to project your voice. Another important duty as the officiant includes guiding the bridal party through the rehearsal. And on the day of, positivity is essential, Davis says.
“It’s the officiant’s job to make it easy on the couple,” she says. “If somebody’s late, spin it. If someone is being difficult, smile and walk away. If the mother asks you to do something the bride has specifically asked you not to, say, ‘That’s a lovely idea. I’ll run it past the bride.’”
Davis gathers the couple before the walk down the aisle to remind them to breathe deep and be present. Once they make their declaration of intent, better known as marriage vows, the last piece is signing the marriage certificate. Check with the county clerk, wherever the ceremony is being performed, in advance of the wedding and submit the signed certification post-wedding, according to county guidelines.
Make sure you also remember to breathe deep and reflect on the reason for the occasion. “It’s their day,” Davis says. “It’s their love, it’s their story.”
Wonder Weddings, 1624 Indian Summer Spur, Fenton, 314-606-6582, wonder-weddings.com