Congratulations! You have officially become a wedding officiant! You've gotten ordained, filed all of the necessary paperwork with your city and state and now—you get to perform weddings! It's great! Now what?
It's okay if you feel a little bit panicked about performing a marriage ceremony. Even the most experienced wedding officiants can get a little bit nervous. After all, every ceremony is different. Every couple getting married is different. How do you make sure that you are doing it right?
Make sure you ask lots of questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to officiating a wedding ceremony. Ask the couple what they want you to wear. Ask them how serious they would like you to be. Ask if there are any family issues or sensitivities you need to be watching for during the ceremony.
The good news is that, most of the time; the couple will have a good idea about the kind of ceremony they want to have performed for them on their special day. They will have definite opinions about vows, different sections of the ceremony, speakers, music, etc. They may even know exactly what it is that they want you to say. All you have to do is listen to what they want and give it to them. In terms of the words spoken during the ceremony, these days pretty much anything goes.
The better news is that, when you and the couple are still having trouble putting the ceremony together, there are a lot of different resources you can use for inspiration. You can find a ton of books on wedding planning and ceremonies that will have sample ceremonies at your local library. There are even more websites that you can visit when you need some help. You could also talk to other officiants in your area and ask for pointers or tips. Don't worry, you'll figure it out!
But—after you've gotten the ceremony squared away, how do you make sure that when you're done talking and helping the happy couple exchange vows and have pronounced them married to all of their friends and loved ones…how do you make sure it sticks?
The most important thing that you need to do (and the most important thing that you need to do) is familiarize yourself with the local laws concerning legally cementing a marriage. Every state is different. Every city is different. Contact your local records office or courthouse to see what it is that you have to do after you have performed the ceremony. You will usually be able to pick up or download some information with instructions. All you have to do is follow them.
Officiating someone's wedding ceremony is one of the most important things that you can do. There is a lot of pressure to get it right. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of having to be absolutely perfect. Try to remember, though, that at the end of the day what matters is that the happy couple gets the ceremony they want and that it is legally binding. If you can help that happen, you've done your job!