The Wedding Ceremony Master Class for Friend Officiants is 64-minutes in length, comprised of 14 concise video lessons and gives friend officiants 1) Couples’ Questionnaire and a Primer on Vows so they can have lots of appropriate information to draw from when writing the love story message; 2) an inclusive starter ceremony that covers joining of families, remembrance, introducing readings, love story message, I dos, ring exchange, and final blessing—all written in the voice of a trusted friend or beloved family member. This allows the friend officiant to spend the bulk of their creative efforts personalizing it, not trying to figure out structure, appropriate tone or flow…and guidance how to do this legally in every state. www.weddingceremonymasterclass.com
1) Make that script your own.
Find a wedding script that includes the ceremony elements and flow your couple is most interested in experiencing. (The Wedding Ceremony Master Class includes a thoughtful 25 minute ceremony starter script.) Then go through script line by line, cutting outdated phrasing and replacing with words and sentiments that sound natural and authentic coming out of your mouth. Being comfortable and confident with what you are saying is the most important factor in delivering a delightful ceremony or any presentation for that matter. Rework that sample script enough until you know the vibe and language is true for you and your couple.
On the day of, make sure to print your script in such a way (big font and generous formatting) so that you can maximize eye contact with the guests and couple. A presenter whose head is down reading from a book has a harder time maintaining a connection with the audience than someone who is engaged and open to all the natural feedback that comes when performing in front of a live audience. Don’t forget to smile!
2) Introduce yourself
Start the ceremony by walking out to the ceremony space by yourself. Introduce yourself, touch on your connection to the couple, what you’ve gone through to prepare the ceremony and talk to all assembled about being active participants in the ceremony as witnesses. Make them care about you! Your Introduction is a natural place to include some self-deprecating humor, and since it’s the first thing that guests will experience, it signals to them that what is about to take place is going to be enjoyable. Don’t forget to smile!
3) Find out what makes your couple special together, and then shout it from the rooftops.
Give your couple homework instead of interviewing them in person. If you have your couple complete a detailed questionnaire about their relationship, what marriage means to them, what makes them special to each other and what they are hoping for the future, they will have more time to be more thoughtful and thorough in their answers. You can use those things they share with you to create a love story appropriate for a wedding ceremony.
4) Be a name dropper
During your prepared words-acknowledge their parents and the joining of their families, remember those who are no longer with us, don’t forget to shout out the fur babies and give thanks for friends who helped along the way to the aisle. It is impossible for people to be bored if you keep talking about all their favorite people. Don’t forget to smile!
5) Support and encourage your couple to write their own vows.
Let’s face it, no matter how much sparkle you bring to this moment, everyone is the most interested in hearing the couple’s own words. Personal vows are another natural place where humor, quirks and sentiments can be included in the ceremony. If your couple has hired a videographer to make a film of their wedding celebration, the captured audio of their voices as they share their promises and I dos will absolutely enhance their final feature film. Don’t forget to smile as you hold the microphone up close as they read their vows to each other!
6) Dress to command attention
Dress for a celebration in the same level of fashion and style as the couple and their wedding party, but a little bit set apart. You want your outfit, personal grooming, hair and make-up to signal to everyone in attendance that you are taking your role as an officiant seriously and are going to respect the gift of their attention and focus for the next 20-30 minutes. People pay attention to attractive people. Don’t forget, you are more attractive when you smile!
If you want people to laugh and cry as they enjoy your genius ceremony script you’ve worked so hard to prepare, you’ll need to make sure everyone can hear you. A microphone on a stand is the best tool to use for not only delivering your ceremony but also amplifying your couple when they exchange their vows. It’s difficult to remember to project one’s voice when emotions are high and exchanging vows is probably the most emotional moment of the whole day for couples. Don’t let your couple talk you out of a microphone either. Amplification is needed when outdoors with a group of 25 or more, while inside with 50 people or more, and any group size when near a body of water, bubbling fountain or busy roadway. Don’t forget to smile! Smiles are contagious, and according to science, smiles can increase the feeling of connection and positive feelings for everyone.
Alisa Tongg is an award-winning certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and ordained minister who has been creating and performing personal ceremonies for nearly a decade, with hundreds of five-star reviewed weddings. As a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute she studied and formally trained to become a ceremony expert for interfaith, intercultural and religiously unaffiliated couples as well as for blended families. Alisa Tongg is a storyteller, ambassador of Aloha, Citizen of Cherokee Nation and the creator of the first-ever class to help friend officiants marry their friends. She lives on a ridge overlooking the Appalachian Trail in the Pocono Mountains, and primarily serves New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania www.Alisatonggcelebrant.com