A few weeks ago, I did what I thought I never could or would. I officiated my best friend’s wedding! That’s right, I’m an ordained minister.
*wedding march plays in background*
Ok ok, enough chuckling. It’s true.
And while, officiating a wedding wasn’t exactly on my bucket list, having led a ceremony for my best friend and now husband is something I will forever cherish and remember. That of course, wasn’t always how I felt about the whole thing. I mean, you could only imagine how shocked I was when I first heard the word “officiant”. To be exact, I believe it was “Jo! You’re going to marry us!” My reaction? “OMG. Ok…is this legal?” After some googling, I quickly learned that not only was it legal and totally legit, but that it was in fact, very common.
Excited and honored, I still couldn’t shake the nerves. Could I really do this? I had experience with public speaking, but my emotions were not something I could easily control. How could I prevent myself from being a total wreck the day of? I had yet to hear of a sobbing minister performing a ceremony and I wasn’t about to be the first.
So, here’s how I did it. Step by step.
1. Let It sink In
It took a few weeks and a Friends episode (Monica and Chandler’s wedding) for me to feel a sense of relief. I told myself that if Joey could do it, so could I! I spoke to my bestie and to family and friends about it, hearing others have confidence in me gave me the confidence I needed.
2. Make It Official
Before proceeding with the script ceremony, making it official seemed appropriate, and if you’re into obeying the law; necessary. Becoming a legal officiant was probably the easiest step in all of this and after consulting with my friend Google, I learned of a few different sites that could make me official. I went with American Marriage Ministries and after a few minutes and at no cost, it was a done deal.
3. Do Your Research
There are all kinds of wedding ceremonies out there. Traditional and non-traditional, some follow a longer script and others are short and simple. Will there be a bible verse or a special religious ceremony? I started off by doing research with the idea that I’d present options and ideas to the couple.
4. Talk to the Couple
Talking to the couple clarified a lot for me. We agreed on an overall theme for the ceremony. In this case, it would be bilingual (English and Spanish) and it would be around 20 minutes in length. While following a non-traditional ceremony, we still wanted to incorporate some religion to the script and after some research, we learned of the cord of three strands or unity braid ceremony that fit the theme perfectly.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Only thing left to do then was practice, and we all know, practice really does make perfect. Having a finalized script written down, word by word, I began practicing it any way I could. I went over it with my family, my fiancé and even some friends. Feedback all really helped in tuning it all up and I made sure to time myself, knowing no one wanted to be standing in 100 degree weather while I preached on.
Public speaking is never easy. Feeling the pressure to lead a ceremony perfectly is beyond stressful. Taking the time to breathe and relax all up until the day of the wedding was what helped me get through it successfully. The trick really is to enjoy the experience and let things happen as they will. I didn’t cry during the ceremony, but I did choke up a bit towards the end…and looking back, I don’t think anyone ever realized it as they were in tears themselves.
All in all, it was beautiful and in my bestie’s own words,
“Having one of my best friends marry my husband and I will be a memory I will cherish forever. Not many people I know can say that. I will always have a special bond with her that will never be broken.”