Use this simple wedding ceremony script guide to make people believe in love all over again, and officiate the hell out of this wedding.
The couple selected you to be their wedding officiant because you’re special to them, but—perhaps more importantly—they asked you because they believe you have enough pizzazz to make their wedding a touching, memorable experience.
That might feel like a lot to handle, but you can do it. Whether you’ve been tapped to officiate a basic ceremony, or write a modern wedding ceremony script, just trust us—and follow the guidelines below.
Before you start writing the wedding ceremony script, you’ve got to be official. In many states, becoming an officiant is as simple as registering online (usually between $30-$40, and the easiest thing you’ll ever do). Other states may allow you to get a special one-day permit. Research the laws in the state where the wedding is taking place to see what’s required of you.
Here are just a few places you can get ordained online:
Universal Life Church (the OG)
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (surprisingly legal)
The Church of Dude (to really tie the ceremony together)
Talk to the Couple
You’re a friend or family member of the couple, so you probably already have an idea of what they would like (or freak out over). But people understandably get very particular about their weddings, so take time to sit down with them and ask about these key components of the wedding ceremony script:
SPECTRUM OF TRADITIONALNESS
Whether you stick to the tried-and-true “dearly beloved” script, toss it, or do a combo of traditional and modern, make sure you ask the couple in detail what they like and don’t like. They may or may not even know, but ask anyway.
On one hand, they asked you to officiate because of (and knowing full well) who you are, so it’d be surprising if they ask you to play against your strengths. Still, it’s worth checking in about how they would like this ceremony to play out. Here are the most obvious options:
d.) Seriously funny
e.) Combo of the above
Ceremonies are getting shorter and shorter—we’re not sure whether to blame cell phones, the open bar, or climate change. In any case, check in with the couple and find out how long they want your speech to be.
Our thoughts? A balance between “short and sweet” and “substantial enough to have meaning” is usually best. Typically, the more traditional the ceremony, the longer this thing’s going to be.
THE COUPLE’S STORY
Some couples meet under less than fairy-tale circumstances. For example, if the couple met at a frat party while they were both wearing slutty jungle animal costumes, would they be fine with you sharing this story with wedding guests, or would they be embarrassed by it? Set some boundaries, and anec-don’t surprise them.
Is the couple choosing the wedding readings, or are they leaving it in your hands? Do they have any pieces of writing, songs, or quotes that are important to them? This is an easy step to overlook, but it’s important.
If you’re tasked with choosing the readings, try to match the tone the couple has already requested. This is also a good time to find out how many readers they have in mind so you can choose an appropriate number of readings.
Write the Wedding Ceremony Script
Now that you know more about what the couple wants from you, it’s time to sit down and write the most beautiful wedding ceremony script of all time. No pressure.
You can jump-start the process with some basic wedding ceremony script ideas (work from this one, or this one, or even this one), just to get a reference for the pacing and basic steps in a ceremony. Edit and add to it based on the previous conversations you’ve had with the couple about what they want, and please, use the words you’d normally use. They didn’t ask a thesaurus, they asked you.
In general, your wedding officiant script should probably follow this order (again, unless the couple has stated otherwise):
1. MAKE A FEW OPENING REMARKS
Welcome and thank everyone for sharing in the couple’s special day (in a traditional ceremony, this would be the “Dearly beloved” part). If the couple is asking for a serious or romantic ceremony, this is basically your one shot at landing a knee-slapper—use it wisely.
2. SAY SOME GENERAL WORDS ABOUT LOVE AND COMMITMENT
Remind everyone that’s why you’re here today—it’s not about the food, the free booze, the dancing, the… ferris wheel? If there’s a ferris wheel it’s at least a little bit about the ferris wheel. But mostly it’s about love.
3. TELL THE COUPLE’S LOVE STORY
This is your sandbox. Make it personal and sprinkle in elements of your relationship with the couple (remember, they asked you to be their officiant for a reason). Consider the following questions:
What is your relationship to them and why is it important?
How do you know the couple?
How have you seen their relationship evolve over time?
What is your favorite story or experience you’ve had with the couple?
What are your wishes for the couple’s future together?
Why are they perfect for each other?
Any of these answers will provide great fodder and filler, and keep the focus on the lovebirds.
4. PRESENT THE WEDDING READINGS
Could be read by you, the couple, or another special person chosen by the couple—as we mentioned earlier, discuss the couple’s ideas for this part of the ceremony ahead of time.
5. VOWS. RINGS. KISS.
If the couple opts for the traditional vows, you’ll conduct those. If the couple has written their own, they’ll take it from here. Until…
6. SAY YOUR THANK-YOUS AND CLOSING REMARKS
Pronounce the couple as married, thank everyone again for sharing in this special moment, and release them all to the reception.
That’s it! You’re done writing The Best Wedding Ceremony Script in All of History (or at least pretty close to it).
Stuff You Probably Shouldn’t Forget to Do
Now that you’ve actually written the wedding ceremony script, give some consideration to these other factors before the big day arrives.
CROSS-REFERENCE YOUR REMARKS WITH THE COUPLE’S VOWS
If the couple is writing their own vows, meet with them beforehand to make sure their vows don’t clash with (or are repetitive of) what you’re planning on saying. Hearing roughly the same thing three times over is a recipe for awkwardness and boredom.
BRUSH UP ON YOUR PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS
Unfortunately, a flawlessly written, heartstring-pulling speech is only half the wedding officiant battle. You also need to know how to work a crowd but not be so much of a scene-stealer that you outshine the couple. It’s a fine line.
Where do you start? Practice reading your speech aloud, make eye contact with the wedding guests (and the couple), smile in a non-creepy way, and stand up straight. Try not to speak too fast or in monotone. And be sure to enunciate (without spitting). These are the bare-minimum requirements for holding the crowd’s attention.
Figure Out What to Wear to This Thing
Ask the couple whether they’d like you to wear anything in particular—they might have a wedding dress code they want you to follow, or at least a few opinions about your look.
If they leave it in your hands, a safe bet is a classic suit in a dark (navy, charcoal, or black) or neutral color (grey or tan). You obviously want to look good because you’re going to be in a lot of those wedding photos, but you also don’t want to distract from the couple on their special day. For this reason, we wouldn’t advise wearing anything too bold. On the other hand, if you go too dark and stoic at a vibey wedding, you’ll stick out, too. Try to match the tone.
Once you’ve got the suit picked out, you’ll need to make sure it fits. Need help finding your suit sizes? Find out how here, or take our simple quiz to find them right now.
The day has arrived. You’re an ordained minister. You look good, feel good, and are prepared to wow this audience and give the couple the amazing wedding memories they deserve. The altar awaits your sparkling stage presence.