Pleasures and Pitfalls of Being a Wedding Officiant

The bride and groom’s son just wanted to get away from the action before the flower girls made their entrance at this outdoor wedding ceremony.

Maybe you wonder what draws a person to the profession of wedding officiant. Let me tell you all about it.

When the planning is easy and the wedding ceremony comes off as planned, it’s a joyful job. You meet couples you like, hear interesting stories of how they met, and receive their gratitude for your having brought off the ceremony with feeling and aplomb. You may even be the recipient of a delicious wedding reception meal. On those occasions you’ll be grateful to whatever power you praise for having blessed you with the opportunity.

But while Colorado is liberal in whom it allows to perform wedding ceremonies, to do it effectively requires a skill set not everyone possesses. You’d best be a powerful, even passionate, public communicator. You are the director of and actor in a performance, the master of ceremonies who speaks to the bride and groom and their guests, the audience. From the time the bride takes her place beside you and the groom, you’re in charge of the mood and tempo of the wedding service.

The unexpected abounds and dealing with it gracefully is part of an officiant’s job. The father of the bride may, instead of letting her take the last few steps on her own to where you and the groom wait, may bring her right in front of you and, with his nose six inches from yours, stand there till you ask, “Who gives this bride in marriage?” before getting out of your way so you can start the wedding ceremony.

The sound system may fail so that you have to project your voice to be heard at an outdoor wedding, where sound not amplified doesn’t carry past the third row. Or the bride and groom, hands clasped, stand so close together you have to move to their side to make eye contact with the gathering. Or the unity candle won’t light in the wind. Or the D.J. doesn’t show up. Or the bride, despite her solemn vow the wedding will begin on time, hasn’t even arrived, much less gotten dressed, by the scheduled hour.

Crystal and Dorita drove with their kids Alyssa and Hunter, from Alabama to Colorado in an enormous truck to be legally married. I had
the honor of officiating on a cold January night in our warm Denver chapel.

All but the last of these are remedial. A bit of cunning on your part and you can keep things rolling. What you have no power over are what I call wedding flakes, people who take your time, let you script a wedding ceremony for them, say they’ll mail or bring by a deposit, and never contact you again. Maybe they thought you too young or old, your hair not worn in the style they favor, or something you said – like “Can we please start the wedding on time” – too threatening. Whether you’re an ordained minister or non-denominational officiant, wedding flakes tell you fibs and seldom return your calls. They may just have found that their second cousin’s best friend’s ex-spouse is a mail order minister and will conduct the wedding ceremony for $25 less than the bargain rate you offered them.

On the whole, playing an important part in wedding services is a glorious gig that puts you in the presence of people in love on one of the happiest days of their life. Their bliss is contagious and, however briefly, you get to bask in it.