So you’re scouring the internet trying to figure out how to officiate a wedding ,well look no further this is where you’re going to find out.
I’m Mark and I’m a professional wedding officiant here in Toronto Canada. I have been in the exact same place as you are right now many years ago and now I professionally help people officiate fantastic weddings. So here we go, here is a quick guide how the perform a wedding ceremony in ten steps.
Number one – the wedding ceremony kickoff.
You’ve got to start this thing off somehow and here is how I do it. I typically walk to the front. There’s no change to the music as I walk in. A lot of the time I will walk with the groom or with the groom’s party. Then I make a few announcements.
First I welcome everybody to the wedding and get them warmed up a little bit. I tell them two things. First whether or not they’re allowed to take photos and second I tell them to please turn off their devices so that nothing is ringing or going off. I might make a little joke with the groomsmen or the groom to make sure they have their phones turned off and that we’re going to have a wonderful time.
Step number two – the wedding processional.
I say let’s begin and the music starts and this is when people come marching rather ceremonially down the aisle. So the typical traditional order to this is that the bridesmaids walk out leading up to the maid of honor and then of course to the bride. Now there might be ring bearers and juniors bridesmaids and things like that. Again sometimes they come out before the bridesmaids sometimes they come out after the maid of honor and before the bride – there is no rule.
Next the bride comes down with dad or whoever is walking her down and she arrives at the front. Usually they stop at the front row, next the groom steps forward takes her hand of course, handshakes with dad or whoever is walking her. Hugs and kisses are exchanged and they step forward.
They stand in front of me (you) the officiant! I like to have them hold hands. The bride will often turn and give her flowers to her maid of honor, and then we are ready to begin the wedding ceremony.
Our step number three is the wedding officiant’s speech.
That’s where you and I say a bunch of things. Now here’s what I recommend. You can do a whole bunch of things. We’ve all been to weddings where you know it’s not the most exciting part:) so make it short and sweet.
I think what makes a wedding so important and amazing is that we’re all here to witness the commitment and the promise that these two people are making in front of us. I’d like to talk about that and here are a few things you can say.
You can share a story of the couple as I tell short and sweet story the couple in every single wedding. Another tip for your speech is that you might do some reading – some poems or something meaningful to them. Something of course about love, marriage and that kind of thing.
If you are going to focus on some theme, I would make some kind of deep philosophical statement about commitment and the meaning of faithfulness. If you’re presiding over a religious wedding you might include a blessing a prayer or something from this couples faith or religious tradition.
Step number four – the exchange of vows.
I like to say this is the heart of the wedding ceremony. This is the part of the day when these two people are going to make promises to each other that we of course traditionally call vows. They’re essentially promise never to leave each other’s side.
Now there’s typically three ways to do wedding vows. The wedding couple can write and read their own wedding vows. The couple can repeat after the officiant line by line. And finally they can just stand there while we read one long question at them, and they just say I do at the end. You can ask them how to do it before the ceremony – what ever makes them feel more comfortable.
Step number five – the exchange of rings.
So again in the wedding ceremony I like to say – “these rings are a physical symbol of the promises that these two have just made to each other” and so on. Usually the best man has both rings and so each will take a turn putting them on starting with the groom. They’ll usually repeat a couple of words I like to have them say.
A wedding couple might say – “I give you this ring as a sign of my commitment” and so on. When they’ve each done that and the rings are on then we move on to the next element of the wedding ceremony.
Step number six of wedding ceremony.
So after the wedding vows have been made and the rings have been exchanged I typically say – “By the authority given me by the province of Ontario” and so on. We are here in Canada but depending on your legal jurisdiction use whatever applies to you. I continue with -“I now pronounce you husband and wife you may kiss the bride you may kiss the groom you may kiss each other”. I always talked with a couple about what they want me to say at this moment prior the ceremony.
Element number seven – signing the legal documents.
I don’t know what this process is like where you are but here in Ontario we need to go to a signing table with two witnesses. So five of us basically go there, we sit down and usually there’s a fun song playing in the background because after they’ve kissed and everybody’s cheered it’s a bit of a party mood.
We sign all marriage documents. We take our time doing that so there are no errors. Sometimes we take a pause for the wedding photographer to take an official portrait. Wedding guests are usually chatting and we approach the end of the wedding ceremony. We come back to the center and that leads to step number eight.
Step number eight – the closing remarks.
At this time I’ll say something like the wedding couple signed the papers and they’re totally legit and they are married. The wedding guests will cheer a lot of the times. We’ll tell them what the wedding couple is doing next, for example that the bride and groom are heading out briefly for wedding photos.
We want to make sure that the wedding guests know what to do next. I might tell them that they are invited to the cocktail hour. Ask them to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres and the reception will follow after that. Again I asked the wedding couple exactly what they would like me to say there.
And so with that said I say thanks everyone for coming and have a wonderful evening, which brings us to the step number nine.
Step number nine – the official presentation of the married couple.
Here is where the wedding couple gets officially presented to everyone for the first time. I will say something like -“It is my distinct honor and pleasure to present to you for the very first time Mr. and Mrs. so and so”.
You can use the last name or just first names as husband and wife or something like that. Again talk to the couple of how they want to be presented for the first time.
The last step of wedding ceremony – the recessional.
Here are few general tips. As the wedding couple heads immediately down the aisle I always tell the wedding party let’s wait until they get all the way down the aisle. We don’t want some kind of crowding and we don’t want a traffic jam backed up.
We let the wedding couple go all the way down the aisle. Maybe they’re going to kiss and maybe they’re going to hug for the wedding photographer. Sometimes as the wedding couple exits they like to high-five guests so let them go first on their own.
Once the aisle is clear typically best man and maid of honor can go two by two. Then after that in pairs the gentleman will step forward offer their arm and the lady will take it and they will go.
This is pretty quick it’s not like the processional where it’s nice and slow. The recessional is fast as they have to go somewhere for wedding pictures, to take drinks and to party.
While it’s happening the music is playing and it’s a party atmosphere. I usually step over to the bride’s parents congratulate them and let them go down the aisle. The groom’s parents same thing and off and off we recess.
And that brings us to the end of any wedding ceremony. We’re done the ten steps of wedding ceremony now. Of course there are a million ways to do wedding ceremony. There are variations to this so this is not me saying this is the definitive wedding ceremony guide. However I will say I’ve been doing this for years here in Toronto, a big urban center, with millennial couples and people love it and it works. This wedding ceremony process might not fit you exactly so adapt and use it as you want. You can use this guide as a rough structure to create your wedding ceremony version. Whatever works for you and you wedding couple.