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Being an Officiant

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Hey all, my friend asked me to be the officiant for her wedding in September (about 5 weeks away). There will be about 20 guests, and it's at a hotel in New Orleans. She was actually my wedding officiant, so it's really fun that I get to be hers too! I got ordained online, and I'm really excited, but I could use some suggestions on how to create a beautiful ceremony. The couple isn't very religious, and neither am I, so I'm going for a largely secular ceremony.

General tips and specific reading/speech suggestions would be much appreciated! I've already run a few by her and she wants me to start by reading "Union" by Robert Fulghum. Of course, I'll be talking with her to see what they want to include, but she's doing a lot of her planning last-minute, and I think she might appreciate my taking some of the burden off her shoulders.

Also, what are your thoughts on unity ceremonies? Touching or cheesy?

Finally, I'd love suggestions on what to wear. A suit would be the most conservative option, but I think it feels a little stuffy. I went through my closet and found a black knee-length A-line dress with a conservative neckline and a small amount of sparkly beading on the front. I was thinking of adding a bolero jacket to make it more formal and conservative, then I could take the jacket off for the reception.
 

sillyberry

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Messages
1,792
Our friend officiated, and it was wonderful! I used Judith Johnson's Wedding Ceremony Planner (often recommended here) to craft a ceremony. Then our officiant added in personal details to make it truly memorable and about us. Short and sweet and wonderful. It was one of the best decisions we made for the wedding! I'm putting it below because I found reading ceremony scripts really helpful in the process -- the page numbers correspond to the book.

I'm not into unity ceremonies, but some people love them and I think they can be lovely.

As for attire, she wore a khaki suit and then changed into a cocktail dress for the reception. She did as "do I need to wear my academic robes?" but we shut that down quickly! :lol:


_______________

Gathering Words #1 (83)
Welcome. A wedding is a wonderful occasion, filled with hopes, dreams, and excitement. We gather today at the Point in Hyde Park, just on the edges of the University of Chicago, where Bride and Groom first met and fell in love. We come here as families and friends, to witness, support, and celebrate their decision to journey forward in their lives as marriage partners.

Gathering Words – some editing from #13 (93)
Being married is like trying to walk together in a Chicago winter. You huddle close together to keep warm and lean forward using each other’s strength to make progress against the wind, yet each of you is making choices, moment by moment, that will either help you maintain balance together or cause you to lose your rhythm or even your way. While you are two separate individuals, you walk along one path together. Your gestures, words, expressions, and actions, and those you withhold or omit, will determine the quality of your experience together. It is through loving, kindness, caring, and openness that a successful marriage journey is created. A good marriage takes patience, dedication, humor, and forgiveness. You keep your love alive through the choices you make day after day and year after year. Through practice, you learn how to love yourselves and each other with devotion and freedom and to build a safe and comfortable haven for one another. Bride and Groom, through your marriage, and through your love, may you give the gifts of tenderness, comfort, joy, and peace to each other to nurture you throughout the years.

Remembrances & Acknowledgments #2 (107)
Bride and Groom have asked that we take a moment to honor the memory of those loved ones who could only be here today in spirit, particularly Bride’s father Dad. I have no doubt he would have been so overjoyed and proud to walk her down the aisle today. [Pause for a beat or two longer than normal, then move on.]

And now, a reading from Madeleine L’Engle’s “The Irrational Season” by Reader.

Reading #1
But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling.

Marriage Address
• Story of how Bride and Groom met over trivia
• A slow and tenuous start
• Conspiracy of friends to push things along (cocktailvangelism)
• A few observations about the qualities of the start of your relationship that will serve you in marriage.
• Transition to address friends and family in a declaration of support not dissimilar from the following.

Declaration of Support #1 (117)
Bride and Groom, today we have come together to celebrate the love you have found with each other. By being here with you, each of us is declaring our support for your decision to join together in marriage.
As families and friends, you form the community of support that surrounds Bride and Groom. Each of you, by your presence here today, is being called up on to uphold them in honoring and loving each other. Always stand beside them, never between them. Offer them your love and support, not your judgment. Encourage them with your kindness and loving hearts, and honor this marriage into which they have come to be joined today.
If you will do this, please say “I will.”
“I will”

Vows: Edited from #4 and #6 (157)
Bride and Groom, please join hands to share your wedding vows.

[Bride/Groom], I choose you to be my wife/husband, to grow with you in love and to be by each other’s side through our life’s journey together. I promise to cherish you, to honor you, to love and respect you. I promise to comfort and encourage you when our lives are filled with happiness and when we experience difficulty or strife, when we are healthy and when we must endure sickness; when we are filled with joys of success and when we are burdened with sorrows. I choose to spend my life with you.

Ring Prelude Edited from #3 on p. 195 and Exchange #9 on p. 201
Wedding rings are symbolic reminders of your pledge to one another, of the constancy of your love, and that over time your love will continue evolve and grow. May these rings serve always to remind you that from this day forward, you have each other’s commitment of love and devotion, that you will comfort each other during life’s storms, and celebrate together in the joys that time will bring you.

Ring Exchange #15 (202)
May I have the rings, please? BM passes rings to Officiant.
Officiant hands the ring to Groom.
Groom, do you take Bride to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, from this day forward?
Response: I do.
Officiant hands the ring to Bride.
Bride, do you take Groom to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish, from this day forward?
Response: I do.

Final Blessing #6 (207)
Now, because you have chosen one another and pledged to love each other for all the days of your lives before this loving community of family and friends, it gives me great joy to pronounce you husband and wife.
Groom, you may now kiss the bride!

Couple exits to recessional music.
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Thank you, sillyberry! Lots of great information there!

When my friend officiated my wedding, I made the entire script, so all she had to do was read it. I'm kind of a control freak in that way, so I liked being able to choose exactly what would be said. I don't think my friend is the same way, so I think I'll have some work to do.

I had 2 readers and a musical interlude with another friend singing, which broke up the monotony of one person speaking for all that time. I don't think my friend is planning on a musical selection, so I was thinking of taking its place with a unity ceremony.

Anyone else have suggestions? Keep 'em coming!
 

centralsquare

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,201
In terms of what to wear...a suit might be too stuffy (esp when you go to the reception). Perhaps a nice simple black dress.
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
centralsquare|1313863576|2995095 said:
In terms of what to wear...a suit might be too stuffy (esp when you go to the reception). Perhaps a nice simple black dress.
That's what I'm thinking. I'm flying with only carry-on luggage, so I'd rather not bring another dress to change into if it's avoidable. I have a certain dress in mind and might post some pics later.
 

Amys Bling

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
11,025
My friend had her childhood friend officiate and the officiant interviewed each person with the following questions:

When asked, Lisa said the first time she saw Ian she thought....

The way Lisa remembers her first date...

She knew she loved him when....

She knew she wanted to marry him when....

He makes her....


And the officant had both them answer seperately in private and then put it together as "the story of their love", very nonreligious and personal. People laughed and cried and neither of them heard the others answers until their ceremony.
 

Amys Bling

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
11,025
centralsquare|1313863576|2995095 said:
In terms of what to wear...a suit might be too stuffy (esp when you go to the reception). Perhaps a nice simple black dress.
Wear a simple black cocktail dress.
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Perfect - a simple black cocktail dress with a sheer jacket was what I had in mind. I might wear heels in her wedding color for funsies.

That's a really cute and memorable suggestion (asking the couple for the personal details) - thanks!
 

Clairitek

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Messages
4,881
I don't have a lot of advice, but I wanted to wish you a fabulous time! DH was an "officiant" for my friend's wedding and I've always thought it was sort of neat. They were already married, but no one really knew, so they had to have a "real" officiant to do the ceremony. Thankfully they wrote the entire thing themselves.

Have a great time when you go!
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Clairitek|1314415340|3001157 said:
I don't have a lot of advice, but I wanted to wish you a fabulous time! DH was an "officiant" for my friend's wedding and I've always thought it was sort of neat. They were already married, but no one really knew, so they had to have a "real" officiant to do the ceremony. Thankfully they wrote the entire thing themselves.

Have a great time when you go!
Thanks! They are also getting married secretly a few days before the real wedding, since they don't live in the state they're getting married in, and that creates a lot of issues in terms of getting the marriage license and stuff. I did something similar as well when my friend officiated my wedding due to silly legal issues with online ministers (I believe the state I got married in is the only one in the country that doesn't recognize online ministers as legal to officiate weddings).

ETA: I also wrote my entire wedding ceremony and gave it to her as a script to read. She's planning her wedding very last-minute, so I think she actually appreciates me writing most of it as long as she approves of the readings and stuff.
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Just as an update, I've finished compiling my part of the ceremony and she loves it! I modified the first paragraph from sillyberry's ceremony and will be reading Union by Robert Fulghum after that. Then the two readers will go (she hasn't picked the readings yet), and after that I'll do the Blessing of the Hands (http://www.chicagomarriage.com/readings_other.htm#Hands). Next come the vows and ring exchange (they aren't sure what they're going to say for this, but I found a sample that works in case they don't want to write their own vows), and I'll read a final marriage blessing before pronouncing them.

So now they just have to settle on readings and vows so I can figure out how to segue into them, and we'll be all set!
 

jstarfireb

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
6,232
Readings/readers are chosen and the ceremony is finalized! The wedding is about a week away. All I have to do now is practice and not screw it up. Thanks for all the advice...I will have to come back with pics when it's all done!

Oh, would it be completely inappropriate for me to wear my pink Cole Haan pumps with my black knee-length dress? The MOH will be wearing a pink dress, so I thought it would be a nice way for me to bring in a splash of her wedding color. Thoughts?
 

sillyberry

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Messages
1,792
jstarfireb|1316166632|3018733 said:
Readings/readers are chosen and the ceremony is finalized! The wedding is about a week away. All I have to do now is practice and not screw it up. Thanks for all the advice...I will have to come back with pics when it's all done!

Oh, would it be completely inappropriate for me to wear my pink Cole Haan pumps with my black knee-length dress? The MOH will be wearing a pink dress, so I thought it would be a nice way for me to bring in a splash of her wedding color. Thoughts?
I think that would be delightful. :))
 
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