What makes a better wedding officiant?
January 18, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

What key studies should I pursue to improve myself in order to become an effective and dynamic wedding officiant? I was ordained in 2002, but have only recently begun to perform marriages. At first, I officiated without fees for close friends but now the requests for my services are snowballing.

Though anyone can be ordained through ULC, I take this responsibility seriously. I'd like to build my experience and my reputation but I think I need a little outside advice on improving my skills - not just in the public speaking aspect of the marriages I'd perform, but also handling the interviewing, service planning, costuming, and financial aspects of this role.

Little details that I'm not sure are relevant: I'm a female in my late 30s on a fixed income in Arizona, U.S. My religiosity is not my priority and my belief about weddings is that the couple should get the service they desire. I am more than pleased to be flexible.
posted by _paegan_ to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This isn't "studies" per se, but I'd suggest volunteering or "riding sidecar" with an organization that plans events, preferably one that comes highly recommended or has a high rating in your area. You'll see and learn a lot of effective techniques for organizing an event. I'd also make a list of seasoned wedding officiants in your area (of various denominations/religions), and go talk to those people. If you can trail round after one, so much the better. Again, you'll see and learn a lot of effective techniques you can use in your own work.
posted by LN at 10:07 AM on January 18, 2010

Best answer: In our area there was a networking organization for wedding professionals I joined when I started a "wedding biz" (we have a band), and I learned a ton about all aspects of wedding, plus all sort of aspects about running a small business. You might look around and see if there is a similar org in your area.

Finding an officiant who could be a mentor and would let you discreetly observe (or maybe read afterwards) their services. My guess is that skill wise, you're looking at communication/listening skills, writing skills, learning about different wedding customs people may ask for, collecting a library of readings/quotes/poetry as references. I'm sure there are lots of books out there with resources.

Our officiant interviewed my husband and I together and then had us fill out a questionaire separately. Then the service was a combination of things we knew were coming (readings, general gist, how we met, people we wanted to honor) and things that were surprising (things my husband appreciated about me, vise versa, etc.). FWIW, she's recently published a book about her experiences marrying couples, I haven't read it yet, but it might be interesting.
posted by snowymorninblues at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2010

Don't wear clerical clothes
posted by hydropsyche at 4:26 AM on January 19, 2010

Wear clerical clothes if it would make the couple your marrying feel their ceremony is more authentic. You have just as much right as an ordained minister performing a wedding ceremony as any other minister acting in their official capacity.

Beyond that, I think snowymorninblues hits it on the head. I think the best thing you can do is present the couple with a wide range of easily digested pre-planned options. Most people getting married don't have any significant experience planning a wedding.
posted by Reverend John at 9:13 AM on January 19, 2010

Response by poster: LOL Heh, hydropsyche, I consider those to be Christian clerical wear and I wouldn't chose that any more than I'd wear a feathered headdress! I'd feel uncomfortable in the tabbed collar shirt (which are offered via ULC) more because it's an exclusive symbol in my mind rather than because I consider myself untrained clergy. However, my Minor in college was Religious Studies, taken with mainly divinity students, so I'm part-way there!
posted by _paegan_ at 2:31 PM on January 19, 2010

Response by poster: I found this questionnaire Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying via another AskMeFi question. This is a type of information I'd like to have available for some aspects of my role as an officiant.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:54 AM on January 23, 2010

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