Officiating a wedding is a very important role to play at such a significant ceremony. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. There are a few things to consider if you are wondering how to become a wedding officiant. Asides getting ordained, a detailed copy of the wedding ceremony script can go a long way in giving you ideas for your role.
Here we have steps to assist you in properly officiating a wedding.
Who Can Officiate a Wedding?
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It’s not only official clergymen who can officiate weddings. Any friend or family member is chosen by the couple for this role can actually officiate the wedding. While you can pick just about anyone, you would want someone of legal age, well rounded and able to give a good speech. This person should know the bride and groom well to a level where he/she is comfortable to talk about their relationship.
Consider the speech you want them to give, the location, their availability and also how welcome they would be to the idea of officiating at the wedding. It might not seem like much of a responsibility, but when wondering, how to ask a friend to officiate your wedding, I think there’s another question to ponder. So, who can officiate a wedding?
How to be Able to Officiate a Wedding
To be able to officiate a wedding, a person would have to get deputized for it. Another word for this is ordained. Depending on the type of religion or ministry the couple is under, it might be required to sign a form, code of ethics or statement of beliefs. Some people can also get ordained off the internet. This is usually possible after a short search on the internet. It is, however, important to read all of the steps; in some states, you would have to register with the city clerk to complete the ordination.
Either way, it is not an exhaustive process, so nothing to get bent out of shape from. The journey to completing this aspect of the wedding rituals is not a daunting one.
How to Legally Officiate a Wedding
Most weddings are officiated by a notary public, members of the clergy, justices of the peace, judges, and in some states even the mayor is qualified to perform a wedding. If you have been picked by your friends or family to officiate their wedding, however, and you don’t fit into any of these roles, it is important to find out the rules of the state you are under. To legally marry the couple, you would have to become a temporary officiant under the statutes of the state so that their marriage can be legal. So, depending on the location, it is important that the couple:
- Decide on who they want to officiate the wedding and the legal requirements for that.
- In some states, an officiant is not even required. So, you can just get married in front of a few witnesses, and ensure to submit the accurate paperwork to the state.
How to Get Licensed to Officiate a Wedding
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If you are completely committed to your friend or family member performing the wedding, then getting licensed is vital to a legal marriage. An officiant should be authorized to sign the marriage license. In essence, this individual will have to:
- Find out the state’s requirements for getting licensed to officiate the wedding.
- Follow these requirements to the tee. You might have to pay a fee and fill in some paperwork with the state. In other situations, you can pay a fee and get ordained with a church online.
- After the paperwork find out what exactly needs to be done to make the marriage ceremony legal. This might be asking the couple if they wish to marry each other. Another aspect that cement the legality of the wedding is the signing of the marriage certificate. So, the wedding officiant need not forget this, and afterward, the certificate/license should be sent to the government issuer or license bureau.
Etiquette on Asking your Pastor to Officiate
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Wondering how to ask a pastor to officiate your wedding? There might be some etiquette involved in the process, depending on your parish or ministry. The process is usually simple.
- Contact your church secretary for an appointment with the priest you have in mind; or if it is possible to contact the priest or pastor directly.
- Share the good news of your upcoming nuptials and ask if he/she would be able to officiate your wedding.
- Make sure to do this on time, some churches/parishes require at least a six-month notice.
- Keep the pastor in the loop of all your preparations. Depending on the church or ministry, you might need to attend some marriage counseling classes possibly with your pastor.
- Keep in mind that you will have to pay the expenses of the pastor, some type of honorarium is required.
Tips You Need to Know on Asking a Friend to Officiate
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You might be itching to ask a friend to officiate your wedding and be unsure of how to go about it. Well, considering that this should be a close friend or family member, asking should be the easy part, right? The important thing is that you help them get into this role in the easiest way.
- Do your research. Find out how much time they would need to get into this role. This would mean that you need to make the ask months before the wedding.
- Find a credible organization for the ordination, one that fits with your plans and the requirements of the state.
- Check if the ordination costs money, and if you think your chosen officiant cannot foot the bill, offer to pay.
- Get them acquainted with the wedding ceremony script. Little things like the traditional vows, can help the officiant plan his/her speech.
- If you have a short speech in mind for the wedding, share it with your officiant and get their feedback.
- Find out the role of your officiant after the wedding particularly concerning the signed marriage license. Where it should be delivered to, and when.
Wedding Ceremony Scripts: How to Officiate
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A first time wedding officiant would need to practice the wedding ceremony script to be able to perform the wedding without a hitch. A typical wedding ceremony script usually involves:
The Welcome: This is usually at the end of the processional. The officiant asks the guests to be seated and welcomes them to the wedding/joining of the couple.
A Reading: This can be a reading agreed upon by the couple and the officiant or decided on by the officiant alone. It can also be a religious verse read by any one of the guests.
The Vows: At this point, the officiant makes a short speech on wedding vows which prompt the reading of the vows by the couple.
Exchange of Rings: The rings are collected from the best man and maid of honor, and given to the couple. The officiant speaks on the significance of this ring exchange, and the couple exchange rings, repeating the required sentences after the officiant.
Wedding Rituals: Some ceremonies have wedding rituals, depending on the beliefs of the couple. It could be a unity sand ritual, candle lighting ritual or other. The officiant oversees the performing of the ritual.
The I Do’s: The officiant asks the bride and groom individually if they take each other as man and wife. The couple says their I do’s.
Pronouncement: The officiant pronounces them married, which is usually followed with a kiss and the recessional of the wedding party.
What to Wear to Officiate a Wedding
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Depending on the theme for the wedding you will be officiating, sometimes what you will wear to officiate would not be up to you. For this, it is a good idea to ask the couple what they might prefer you wear. If they are flexible about this, you can take your cue from the wedding. If there is no theme and no rules set in stone, then play it safe and wear formal black or something dark. In any case, here are some options for what to wear to officiate a wedding.
- If you’re picking safe, then wear something formal that wouldn’t upstage the couple. Whether you’re a male or female officiant, a subdued color like grey, deep blue, or even black official attire would do. Definitely not white, which might clash with the bride especially in all the pictures.
- If the wedding has a theme and you decide to match it, then definitely consult with the couple. They should have some interesting idea. Whether it’s a cosplay wedding, a bohemian themed wedding, go with the flow and find what would suit the day.
- Accessorize. If you are going with the theme, for a boho wedding you could choose to accessorize with ribbons, flowers or comfy footwear. If you are dressing formal and in subdued colors, you could decide to wear sparkly shoes and some other little bright accessories; perhaps a tie pin?
Civil Wedding Officiant
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When pondering how to find someone to officiate a wedding, you might decide on a civil wedding officiant. The role of the civil wedding officiant is to witness the marriage, validate the consent of marriage for the wedding certificate, and ensure that your marriage is legally registered. Thus, it is possible to find civil officiants through the local city clerk’s office, or sometimes online from their individual websites. To find the right civil wedding officiant for you, it is important that you:
- Speak to a few to find which one you feel most comfortable with.
- Discuss the terms of the wedding, if you want something formal or a more personalized wedding, and if they are amenable to this; also the dates.
- Discuss the price of their services and find out if anything else is needed.
While officiating a wedding can be a serious aspect of the marriage process, it is also a great honor and not as difficult as it might seem. The officiant is a notable but almost invisible member of the wedding party during the wedding ceremony. All eyes are usually on the bride and groom.
Therefore, if you have been given this task and it is your very first time, relax and just go with it. It might help to find and study somehow to officiate a wedding ceremony scripts online. Decide on something stylish but comfortable to wear for the wedding, don’t forget to practice, and you should be well on your way to having a great time.