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Getting Married This Year? Here’s What You Need To Know…

Did you get engaged to be married (Photo)

You were engaged over the holidays? Congratulations!

Now the fun begins — the planning, the worrying, the “sweating the details.” Okay, “fun” may be a relative term, but there’s no reason for one of the biggest days in your life to be daunting.

The first thing to know is that you have options, even if you are planning everything on your own. Gather your resources — The Knot, Brides Magazine and Bridal Guide are excellent places to start.

And, now that you know who you will be marrying, it’s time to figure out who will marry the two of you!

If you belong to a church, check with your pastor as soon as possible to make sure that he or she — and the church itself — will be available on the date you want to be married.

Of course, if you don’t belong to a church, your choice for the person who will perform your wedding ceremony is wide open. There are numerous guides available online to help you find a ceremonial minister (or Officiant, or Celebrant) in your area; most will perform a religious or non-religious ceremony, depending on your personal beliefs. (Both types of ceremonies are legal in all fifty states.)

However, to make your ceremony even more personal and special, keep in mind that you are permitted to select a friend or family member to perform your ceremony. The process to have someone ordained (legally authorized to perform marriages) is very simple, it usually only takes a day or so to get done, and it’s valid and accepted throughout the United States.

If you are considering asking one of your parents, a brother or sister or a friend to perform your marriage ceremony, make sure that you work closely with him or her throughout the process — confirm that they have received ordination, that they have registered with the state or county (if required), that you’ve planned out the various stages of the ceremony (including your vows), and that you have gone over the signing of your marriage license together.

Why is this last element so important? First of all, if you don’t properly sign the marriage license after the ceremony and return it on time to the issuing clerk’s office, then your marriage may not be certified as legal. Please make sure that you review your marriage license with your Officiant before the ceremony so that everyone is familiar with it.

There are usually several boxes on the form that must be filled in by you and your Officiant (including the date and location of the ceremony), each of you must sign it before sticking back in the envelope and mailing it in. Most states will provide you with a set of simple-to-follow instructions, so make sure you read them carefully and follow them to the letter.

(Additionally, some states don’t require witnesses, but some do — usually one or two, who must be adults over the age of 18. While the witnesses can be related to you, the Officiant cannot be one of the witnesses, since he or she is acting officially in a different capacity.)

If you decide to choose a friend or family member to serve as your Wedding Officiant, click here to get started. You’ll need to know where you are getting married, since the laws in that state might be a bit different, and the Officiant’s ordination must comply with that state’s rules and regulations — for example, if you live in Michigan, but you’re getting married in California, then you must obtain your marriage license in California and your Officiant’s ordination must comply with California’s laws.

And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t worry! Get in touch with us, and we’ll provide you with detailed but simple information to guide you through the process!

 

The “Standard” Format For Marriage Ceremonies

One of the most-asked questions we receive — right up there with “what the heck am I supposed to do next?” — is actually fairly important:

What is the standard structure of a wedding ceremony?

Most weddings follow basically the same format, with minor adjustments here and there depending upon the desires of the bridal couple. Keep in mind that the bridal couple usually comes up with their own format for the ceremony, but many times you’ll show up and they’ll be looking at you for guidance every step of the way — and you had better be ready with a plan!

Keep in mind that, aside from traditional ceremonies in certain churches (such as in the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faiths), there is no step-by-step standard format. The bridal couple is free to choose the elements they want to include or exclude, and to customize it any way they want.

No jurisdiction has a law saying what format a marriage ceremony must follow. However, the bridal couple must speak vows declaring their intention to be married to each other (either by repeating vows spoken by the Officiant, or by saying their own vows) and the Officiant must declare them to be married at the conclusion of the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the Officiant must take the couple aside to sign their marriage license, along with the witnesses (if required by local law) to make the marriage official.

A sample “standard” format includes:

Special wedding music begins (this is usually “background” music chosen by the couple, or by the DJ or musicians)
Mothers/parents/VIPs enter and light candles/candelabras
Parents of the Bride and Groom are seated
The Minister/Officiant and Groom enter and proceed to the front
The Bridal Party enters and proceeds to the front
The Ring Bearer and/or Flower Girl enter, proceed to front
Music concludes for Bridal Party
Ushers unroll the aisle runner
The Minister/Officiant asks the audience to rise and welcome the Bride
Music begins for the Bride’s entrance (Processional music)
The Bride and her escort enter, and are met by the Groom
Bride’s music concludes
Opening commentary by Minister/Officiant
Bride and Groom light “family candles” to represent their families
Bride and Groom present flowers to parents and/or VIPs
“Declarations Of Intent” by Bride and Groom
First reading (religious or romantic literature)
Musical interlude (solo, etc.)
Second reading
Special music (musical interlude, or musical and vocal performance)
Exchange of wedding vows (traditional or customized)
Blessing of the rings
Exchange of wedding rings
Minister/Officiant‘s prayer or blessing for the Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom light Unity Candle (music in background)
Final commentary
Bride and Groom kiss
Introduction of the new couple by the Minister/Officiant
Recessional music begins
Bride and Groom exit
Bridal party exits and forms reception line
Minister/Officiant’s instructions to the audience
Audience departs for reception

Sage Advice For The First-Time Wedding Officiant

We received an inquiry this week from a minister who was getting ready to perform her very first marriage ceremony this coming weekend.

Getting asked to perform your first wedding progresses very quickly from “Sure, I’ll do it!” to “Yipes, what do I actually do?”

A wedding ceremony is a beautiful but complex thing. As the designated Officiant, you may not have realized it before, but you’re in charge. It’s the bridal couple’s show, but you’re guiding them through the ceremony. Once you arrive at the altar (or the other designated spot where the vows will be spoken) you’re running things.

What things? Every thing. You’re essentially hosting and narrating the program — you are literally the master of ceremonies! Speak in a voice that everyone can hear, even those in the back row — and especially great grandma in the second row. She doesn’t want to miss a word!

The bridal couple will be following your lead, so make sure that every “repeat after me” is followed by short and simple vows for each of them to repeat. Test it out on yourself, because if you can’t remember more than four or five tongue-twisting words to repeat (with your nerves frayed, and a big audience of family and friends staring at you) neither will the couple!

But that’s not everything

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