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September 25, 2008

I Now Pronounce thee...

The role of the officiant is a very important one. Whether it is a church ceremony or a backyard wedding, the officiant sets the tone and the speed of the ceremony and the vows. A friend of mine, Em, who is to be wed in October is having another friend of ours, FMAD, officiate her wedding. FMAD, also known as the Reverend in some circles, received his officiant license a couple years back... however, I believe this will be his first official wedding to officiate.

So the pivotal question is... what does an officiant do? What can he do to make or break the wedding? What can he do to help live out the visions of the bride and groom?

When having a friend preside over your ceremony, there are many things that need to be discussed in regards to what the bride and groom are envisioning? I believe the only advice Em has passed on is: "I want it to be laid back and chill, but at the end of the day, I still want to feel like we got married!" So its a bit broad, and this post is to help her and FMAD brainstorm some ideas of what they do or do not want during the ceremony!

1. What kind of ceremony do you want? Religious, secular, spiritual, non-religious? If this question is too hard, try it the other way, What do you know for sure you DO NOT want?
2. What traditions, rituals or religious traditions would you like to incorporate? Candle lighting, sand ceremony, hand tying...
3. How long do you want the ceremony to be?
4. Will the audience participate at all?
5. Special readings done? Poetry, scripture?
6. What kind of vows would you like to exchange?
7. Any special words the bride and groom would like to exchange?
8. Any special people you'd like to honor during the ceremony?

The key to the officiant role is to guide the bride and groom through the process of this public proclamation of their commitment and love for one another. The officiant can also assist the guests by instructing them when to stand or be seated. That being said, what should a typical ceremony include...

1. Introduction or welcoming words: "Welcome everybody, today we are gathered here to witness the union of..." At this point you can ask, "who gives this bride away?" and also "if anybody should have just cause to oppose this union..."
2. Reflective words upon the couple or the meaning of marriage...
3. These words applied to the couple
4. Exchange of vows
5. Exchange of rings
6. Traditional or ritual ceremonies
7. Acknowledgment of friends and family (past and/or present)
8. Announcement of bride and groom

These are the bare basics... with musical interludes in between if so desired.

So what else do you think a non-religious ceremony should/could include? Any ideas or suggestions for either the bride/groom and/or FMAD?

1 comment:

  1. Marriage is obviously a very personal affair whereby the ceremony should reflect your own persons. But, I still believe that it should be a "ceremony." If we are to go through the trouble of being married rather than just co-habitating -- then we obviously have a since that there is something sacrant about the idea of marriage -- no matter how far you take that concept.

    For me -- should I ever get married -- I do want to ensure that there are very ceremonial aspects so that the world and especially my new family understand that this marriage is a commitment that I take seriously. I want the vows, the rings and the story about the rings -- marriage is a covenant.

    my two cents.


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