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Making it Official

For many brides, the choice is an easy one: marry inside the church. Whether it’s the local place of worship you attend every weekend, or where your parents were wed years earlier, there’s usually a sentimental or traditional reason to share your wedding vows where you often say your prayers. However, for some couples, a house of worship doesn’t make sense. Perhaps you come from two very different faiths, and to choose one over the other would offend family or feel odd for both of you. Maybe you are outdoor adventurers, and saying “I Do” on a cliff overlooking Lake Michigan makes far more sense than under a roof. Whatever the case for the significance of your more unusual, outdoor, or unorthodox ceremony locale, finding an officiant to oversee properly and legal sanction your vows is both a personal and necessary piece to your wedding day.

Usually, officiants who marry couples outside of a church environment are nondenominational, which means they are able and willing to marry brides and grooms of various faiths, traditions and backgrounds. While he or she will come equipped with a long list of activities that can occur within the ceremony, they are always open to interpretation of traditions that may be special to you as a couple, or incorporating new ideas that would not be allowed in a more traditional setting. An officiant will also usually come with a “bare bones” script, which is the minimal that must happen and be said during a ceremony to make it legal and binding. However, there is also a huge amount of leeway and room for addition within that script, allowing couples to add one or multiple readings or write their own vows, for instance.

Officiants can be lawyers or judges, practicing or retired. They can be nondenominational ministers, rabbis or ordained through online services such as those offered through Universal Life Church. It’s especially important to vouch your officiant. Ask for references and actually speak to past couples about their experiences with the officiant in the planning stages and during the actual wedding day. Meet with your intended officiant before booking to see if you feel comfortable with him or her and where they are open to unique additions to your wedding day. Veil Magazine also offers options for you to consider.

A professional officiant will be able to offer information that will help you coordinate your wedding ceremony so that it runs smoothly and appropriately. Below are some pointers to help you get started in the planning of your own vows.

Planning Tips

  • Attendants are a great help. Ask them to run errands – this way, you don’t look stressed or worn out.

  • Abstain from drinking alcohol until after the photographer is finished.

  • Never drink anything colored.

  • Walk down the aisle imagining what you will be thinking when you kiss your groom; this will help you maintain your confidence even if you are nervous.

  • Don’t lock your knees at the altar; it can cause you to faint.

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