What to Expect From Your Officiant
By: Dr. Gail Smith
Congratulations and best wishes you have found the love of your life, and have set the perfect date for your wedding. If it’s your 1st, 2nd or 3rd wedding or you want to renew your wedding vows on your anniversary the steps are simple and mostly the same. The wedding is only a few months away, and the two of you are starting to make your plans for your special wedding day. Together you have designed a clear vision and intention of how you would like your wedding to flow. You have many questions and decisions to make.
Make a plan, how do you want you and your guests to feel at the ceremony? A good place to start is finding an officiant that will help you create your perfect wedding ceremony.
A great place to locate an officiant in your area is at your local church, temple or surfing the Internet. Wedding magazines are a great place too, but the best way is checking with close friends and family to get their best recommendations.
The weddings I’ve performed over the years are mostly from personal recommendations, but in the last few years the Internet has connected me with at least 45% of the weddings I officiate. At a recent wedding, the couple found my website on the Internet and we
E-mailed back and forth a few times and then we set up our first meeting. Connecting through the Internet can be fun and easy! Each officiant’s website will give you a different feeling, so go with the one that best matches what you want to express at your wedding.
First, set up a meeting time and place with your officiant. Find a nice, quiet and relaxing place where the three of you can sit down and go over all the details of your wedding ceremony. You may want to meet at the place where you are having your wedding ceremony, or at your home or the home of the minister. Ideally, I find it is helpful to meet half way between where the three of you live. A nice hotel in the lobby is a great place to find a quiet corner or somewhere you won’t be disturbed for about an hour or so.
Your 1st Meeting with Your Officiant
Everyone always seems to be a little nervous at first. It’s natural. At your first meeting – How do you feel? Is it a good connection with the three of you? Are you both comfortable with them and them with you? Ask yourselves; is this the perfect person to join in a sacred partnership to create the wedding ceremony of our dreams? Then just follow your heart!
It is very important to let your officiant know all about your story of how you and your partner met. It will allow them to get to know you both, on a much deeper and personal level. Let them know your vision and intention for your special day. Then go over all the details – where, when, and who will be a part of the ceremony. How do you see the procession (maid of honor, best man, flower girl and ring barer, etc.) and is it going to be a theme wedding (Hawaiian, casual beach, or formal)?
Sharing as much information as possible about yourselves helps you to create together a complete custom personalized ceremony. In the ceremony, I like to share all about the couple and how they met and fell in love and how there relationship has grown. It is also wonderful to include the personal connections with their friends that are standing up for them in the ceremony. All the details of your relationship help to create a ceremony that expresses your love and personal style.
What music do you want played in your ceremony? Are you going to have a song played or a song sung during the ceremony? I suggest you limit the song to less than three minutes long. A fun idea is to have your favorite song as the song you recess out of the ceremony to.
Making It Legal: The License
Go over all the details of applying for the license and what you need to bring with you (Photo ID, etc.)
-You may apply for your license up to 90 days before the ceremony (You must apply for the license together).
-You may save some time by down loading the forms off the Internet then you are able to fill them out ahead of time. It will only take a few minutes at the county court house to apply.
It is a great idea if possible to have the rehearsal at least two days before the wedding. It allows everything to flow a little more relaxed, and you to have more time with family and friends. If the wedding is small, you may chose to do the rehearsal a few hours before on the day of the wedding. The rehearsal is a time to relax and have fun and run through the ceremony 2 or 3 times for everyone in the bridal party to get comfortable.
Anything goes! Personal vows, or traditional or both, or however you choose to express your love and commitment to one another! All brides & grooms are always a little nervous at the ceremony, so it is perfectly fine to write your personal vows on a scroll or 3X5 card and pull it out and read it at the ceremony. What kind of poems or writings would you like as a part of your ceremony? When you add your own personal poems or the words to your favorite songs or have a family member do a reading from the heart, it is always a wonderful personal touch. Having friends or family do a reading or sing a song is a great way to get them involved. You can find wonderful poems or writings in books, songs, or even greeting cards. If you’re renewing your vows you could use a poem from your first wedding that inspired you. You can find inspiration everywhere!
The Ring Exchange
This is when you get to speak the words of commitment to one another after you have pledged your vows and the “I DO’S”.
An example: This ring I give to you, My Love, in token and in pledge of my constant faith and abiding love. With all that I have, and all that I am, I honor you.
(Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize the words, the officiant will give you only two or three words to repeat at a time!)
Introduction as Husband and Wife
You get to choose how you want to be introduced for the first time!
Example: My pleasure to be the first to introduce:
Mr. & Mrs. Hart
Mr. & Mrs. Tom Richard Hart
Mr. & Mrs. Tom & Kathy Hart
Husband & Wife Tom & Kathy
The New Married Couple Tom & Kathy
Tom & Kathy A New Family.
The sky is the limit! Do whatever speaks to your heart and the way you wish to share your love with the world. Your first meeting with your officiant you will go over all the parts of the ceremony you probably hadn’t thought about before. All through the process of getting ready for your wedding, you have your officiant to answer any of your questions and to help keep you on track Enjoy the process!!!
Find a wonderful Wedding Consultant to help you with all the wedding details, from locations to flowers. A great place to find a Wedding Consultant is Association of Bridal Consultants, on the Internet, and in bridal magazines. It’s your day to just be a bride!
At the rehearsal or before, take care of all the paperwork, the license and the officiants fee, the caterer’s and the DJ fees, etc. so you don’t have to worry about the paper work on the day your wedding day.
Get plenty of rest the week of your wedding, so you’ll look beautiful in your wedding pictures and you won’t feel stressed out as much. Enjoy! The journey is half the fun!