Many couples are choosing non-traditional weddings nowadays. In fact, I was asked to officiate one of my friends weddings this past summer and I want to share my experience. Let me just say that I have never married anyone and I wasn’t keen on the idea. In fact I tried desperately to get out of if but for some reason they had their minds made up. So, I was in and I couldn’t refuse without risking adding stress to their already stressful wedding planning.
So the first that I needed to do was to get ordained. They make it pretty easy today and so I went online and became a real bona fide ordained minister. It was super easy. The only thing you have to do is make sure it is okay to do in your state as well as make sure you have the proper paperwork so that the marriage is legal and recognized so the couple can get their marriage license. You might be able to mess up some of the sermon but don’t mess this part up. Here’s where I got ordained – open-ministry.org.
Once I figured out what to do to get ordained and where to do it, I then had to figure out what I was going to say and how the actual ceremony was going to go down. About a month before the wedding I reached out to my friends to see what they had in mind and they really said that I could do whatever I wanted. Well, this certainly wasn’t the answer I was looking for since I needed a little direction. They said they were working on their vows but as far as what I was going to say would be up to me.
Well great, I was already nervous about the whole thing and now they were going to just trust that I knew what I was doing. I know they were aware that I had never done this before but they also knew that I had done some public speaking in the past so they just figured I would know what to do. So, once again it was back to the internet. I searched for some things to say. Of course there is everything under the sun and what I did was actually find a pretty good sermon within no time but, I then needed to put it into my own words because every time I read it, it sounded like I was back in the 3rd grade.
I practiced and practiced until I pretty much had it down but I knew I would still need my notes up there so I just make notes on the actual printout and took the whole thing with me. In hindsight this was a very bad idea but I’ll come back to that. Anyways I was feeling a little better about the delivery a few days before the wedding and then the couple hit me with a few things they wanted me to say and to add.
Now I had to go back and find where and how to add what they wanted which I did. We didn’t really coordinate on what I was saying but I had let them know that I put a place in there where I would stop and direct them to say their vows. Well, fast forward to wedding day and neither had done their vows. Great. Just one more thing I had to change last minute.
Now we did do a dry run the night before like most weddings do but it was really just an informal breakdown of how they were going to do the ceremony but no real practice. Ugggh. Anyways, as the day came around we arrived early to help set up. The wedding was outside and I had to coordinate with the DJ as to when to cue certain music, etc. I wasn’t expecting this but the guy was a pro and really helped a lot. Well, a couple hours before go time, it started to rain and the wind really picked up. On top of that it was extremely hot and humid and I was burning up. So I decided to talk to the bride to be and have her change the ceremony so that we could do it inside. All it would’ve required would be to put the chairs under the awning and keep the doors open to the dance floor where we could put the podium.
Well, it was her special day and she didn’t want to. I couldn’t blame her as it was a once in a lifetime (hopefully) event and she knew what she wanted. I didn’t argue and just let her know why I thought we should change it. In the end it we ended up doing it outside.
So, now on to the ceremony. I was pretty much the MC at the beginning and had a microphone with me that I would use to do the sermon so I sort of said some funny things to the guests as they were all taking their seats and waiting for the bride. I sort of did a play by play about how nervous the groom was and that he could still change his mind. It went over pretty well and it’s the sort of thing that makes the wedding memorable as most traditional weddings don’t do anything until you hear the here come’s the bride music come on. The groom also came out to the ‘Rocky Eye of the Tiger’ song and people loved it.
Well, once the ceremony started I was not only so nervous but I was sweating profusely and had to constantly wipe sweat out of my eyes. I couldn’t read my notes because they were the entire printed words and I would lose my place on the page as I would look up and address the crowd. To my credit no one noticed I was sweating so bad and they really couldn’t tell I was nervous when I was speaking. I messed up a few times with the order of things but no one was the wiser. I made everyone laugh multiple times because I had some good personal jokes about the bride and groom in there that I had rehearsed over and over again.
In the end, it came off great. In fact, the DJ said it was the best sermon he had ever heard and he did a lot of weddings. Perhaps I have found my calling. As far as me personally, I still would choose not to do it again. I have done a lot of speaking events but usually once things get rolling I am fine. For some reason I was nervous throughout the entire ceremony and the stress made my complexion break out over the following few days. All in all though I am glad I had the opportunity to help my friends and to contribute in making some good memories for them.
Good Idea or Bad…GOOD OVERALL definitely!