You know how some job descriptions include a statement like "other duties as assigned"? Well, the job description of a Wedding Officiant includes much more than just reading a ceremony and getting you to say "I do." I've found that good officiants have at least three very different responsibilities: Writer, Coach, and Performer.
Writer: A good officiant spends time getting to know you as a couple, learning your story, finding out your preferences for a personalized ceremony, and then sitting down and weaving some magic by turning all that into a memorable ceremony! Sure, there are "sample ceremonies" online, but do you really want to say "I do" to some generic script that says nothing about you?! Your ceremony shouldn't be the "price of admission" you have to pay to enjoy yourself at the reception.* Your wedding ceremony IS the wedding! It's the one chance to speak about and celebrate this love that you've found. Why make it any less special than all the other carefully chosen elements of your big day?
Coach: I'll never cease to be amazed at how nervous some couples get right before their wedding. I'm not talking cold feet, I'm just talking about the realization that THIS IS IT... all you've ever hoped and dreamed about when you thought of getting married is about to unfold, and suddenly you're not sure where to stand or what to do or if you're even going to be able to get the words out! It's both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. A good officiant knows how to read your mood and coach you by doing whatever it takes to calm you and get you ready to walk out there with a smile and get married! Your officiant is your "sherpa,"** the one who will literally guide you through the ceremony and make sure everything goes smoothly. Why entrust this job to anyone who you aren't sure can do this for you?
Performer: Finally, your wedding ceremony is essentially a "love roast," and you and your partner are the ones whose love is being roasted! Most of the words are about you, but are spoken by others - mostly, your officiant. A good officiant is really comfortable speaking in front of others, and they have the gift of captivating an audience. A great officiant will even ad lib if needed, responding to any unique things that happen during the wedding (the flower girl dumps her flowers or the bride starts laughing uncontrollably) and keeping things on track while not sounding stiff. Why ask someone to perform your wedding if they aren't comfortable or experienced performing?
Here's hoping your wedding ceremony goes smoothly, is enjoyable, and gets your celebration started off the right way, thanks to hiring a professional officiant!
*thanks to Han Hills, former Wilmington Wedding Officiant, for this great description!
**thanks to Minister Marie Burns Holzer, "Let's Get Married By Marie," from Riverside, CA, for this concept!