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Husband, Wife, and MinisterBecoming a wedding officiant is a worthy aspiration. If you've never performed a wedding ceremony before, it's easy to feel a little intimidated by all the details. But some sound advice and useful tools can help you prepare to solemnize your first marriage — and potentially succeed as a full-time officiant.

Get Ordained First

If you haven't already gotten ordained, you must take this important step first. Online ordination through the Universal Life Church is free, plus it lets you legally solemnize marriages in most jurisdictions. When filling out the ULC's ordination request form, be sure to use your legal name and enter your correct details. If you change your name after ordination, you can always contact the ULC and get this info updated. After you've completed the ordination form, you should receive a confirmation email within a few minutes.

Secure Your Credentials 

After your ordination, you'll want official documents to prove your credentials. Most states accept an ordination certificate as proof, but you may also need a letter of good standing. You can get these items through the ministry supply store. Some states like New York ask for other documentation. You'll find state-specific packages in the store as well. You may not be asked to present documentation, but you should have it ready just in case. Be sure to review state marriage laws and learn your jurisdiction's requirements.

Review Ceremony Formats

Whether you're performing religious or civil weddings, they all tend to follow a similar format. You'll encounter some variations, especially with traditional or faith-based ceremonies. However, most include a general order of service:

  • Welcome and introduction
  • Readings
  • Declaration of intent
  • Vow and ring exchange
  • Closing remarks

Other elements you may see include an affirmation of support, typically where "giving away the bride" would be in a traditional ceremony. In some religions, the couple does not kiss after the vow and ring exchange You can review a sample nondenominational ceremony script to get a general idea about formats. You can also find many resources online to learn about Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and other religious wedding ceremony formats

Learn and Practice

Conducting a wedding involves setting its tone and pace plus guiding the couple and guests through the ceremonial elements. This requires confidence, poise, and proficiency in public speaking. The axiom "practice makes perfect" applies here. Rehearse ceremony scripts at home and get comfortable with both the basic format and speaking in public in front of others.

You should also become familiar with marriage license laws in your area. When working with a couple, you'll want to make arrangements for completing the license form. It's your job to submit it to the appropriate office when completed. Check out this quick guide for more info on marriage licenses.

Package and Present Yourself

As an officiant, you're offering a service. That means being aware of your worth and the value of your time and efforts. Researching your market is key, so find out typical rates charged by officiants in your area.

If you plan to regularly perform weddings, you should also think about how to present yourself. What type of officiant will you be, and what niche can you fill? Maybe your specialty is helping couples craft a custom ceremony from start to finish, or you want to primarily serve LGBTQIA+ couples. No matter what your niche is, you may want to invest in a professional website and set up social media accounts. You can also register for an account on Get Ordained and create listings for your services on websites such as Wedding Wire and The Knot. 

Help Others Celebrate Their Love

As an officiant, you have an important job to do. Whether you've been asked to officiate at a friend's wedding or you want to perform weddings as a full-time vocation, learning and preparation are key to your success. By putting in time and effort, you can deliver a ceremony experience that your clients and guests will fondly remember.

Category: Get Ordained

wedding officiant

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