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Officiating a WeddingIf your friends have asked you to officiate their wedding, you’ll be playing a very special role in their celebration of love and happiness. You're probably excited, nervous and unsure about where to even start your preparations. Thankfully, there are resources and tips to help you get organized, make sure you can legally perform the ceremony and collaborate with the couple in crafting a memorable and meaningful event.

Getting Ordained Is Your First Step

Since its early days, the Universal Life Church has offered immediate ordination to individuals, allowing them to perform weddings for those without access to an officiant. In many cases, this includes interfaith couples, people in far-flung rural areas and same-sex pairs. Fortunately, it’s also part of your own path to solemnizing your friends’ nuptials. You’ll need to complete the ULC’s online ordination process, and the organization also strongly suggests reading its training materials.

Verify Your Jurisdiction’s Requirements

Next, you must file the appropriate paperwork to be granted the legal ability to solemnize marriages. Depending on where they’re getting married, you may have to register at either the state or county level. The ULC’s interactive map has links to information for each state, but you should contact the county’s clerk to confirm these guidelines. Once you know what documents you’ll need, you can order them from the ULC. In completing your registration applications, be sure you understand the jurisdiction’s laws and follow them exactly.

Begin Planning and Organization Early

Once you’re a newly minted minister, your real work begins. In a November 2017 Brides article, writer Jaimie Mackey urges officiants to develop a planning timeline, tracking related tasks and staying on point with deadlines. Keep essential documents, worksheets, communications and notes in a notebook or binder, or use a digital organization system or app. Making to-do lists and setting reminders should also assist you in ensuring that critical details don’t slip out of your grasp.

Communicate and Collaborate

Crafting a wedding ceremony is a joint effort involving you and the couple. Writing for Offbeat Bride, Catherine Faris King describes how she officiated a handfasting for some close friends. She stresses the importance of understanding what elements the couple does and doesn’t want in their celebration. Make a list of these for later reference and keep it handy with your materials. Also, touch base with them regularly to make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to planning and deadlines.

Writing a ceremony script from scratch can be difficult, but some reference materials can be helpful. One possible approach is to let the couple’s preferences and any religious beliefs guide you in finding example scripts to rework and modify. Using email or electronic collaboration tools such as Google Docs can enable both you and the couple to see and revise your script.

Final Tips for the Ceremony

Right before and immediately after the happy event, you’ll need to keep an eye on some final preparations. First, confirm that the couple has obtained their marriage license documents. Secondly, set aside some time and rehearse the ceremony script together. Thirdly, don’t forget to bring a few copies with you in case either half of the couple forgets the words. Lastly, make sure you sign the appropriate licenses and certificates and then file these with the jurisdiction’s government offices right away. If you’re stuck on how to complete licenses and certificates, the ULC has some helpful guidance on its website.

Being asked to perform a wedding ceremony is a great honor. However, there are several vital steps to take to help your friends make their dream a reality. Planning, organization, communication and collaboration are critical keys to both your success as an officiant and a smooth wedding day for the happy couple.


Category: Get Ordained Perform a Wedding

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