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(www.WeddingIncome.com) | Dr. Kelly Carr
Dedication This e-book is dedicated to all the men and women who dedicate their time to helping young couples prepare for their Wedding Day and making it the day of their dreams.
How To Perform A Wedding… (Even If It Is Your FIRST Time)
I can remember how frightened I was when I performed my very first wedding. I was still in seminary and in my 20's and it was a small wedding in a home, but it seemed a daunting task. The thoughts raced through my mind constantly as I prepared such as "What will I say?" "What will I do?" "What is the right order for everything?" "What happens if I mess up?" "Where can I find a wedding ceremony?" "If I mess up their wedding will they still be my friends afterwards?" That was 25 years ago, and I have performed weddings over 400 times since then and have "messed up" many times (in small ways), but I have never had anyone leave mad and have never been featured on "America's Funniest Videos." Keep in mind that what is a large mistake in your mind, is often completely unnoticed by the crowd or even the couple since it was probably only an intention in your mind that you did not follow through on or a small word mix up, etc. Let me give you the quick and easy way to perform a flawless (OK semi-flawless) wedding ceremony. It will at least increase your odds of doing a good job by a ton, even if it is your first time. I am assuming that you have been asked to do this by friends or family or church members who have confidence in you and that you are legally certified to do it. You probably have some public speaking experience already or you would not have been asked to perform the ceremony so I am not going to cover Public Speaking 101. I am going to focus on the "mechanics" of performing the wedding ceremony. This is something that I have rarely if ever seen anyone discuss. I sure don't remember reading anything about it, but I wish I had 25 years ago.
Step One Find a good basic wedding ceremony. You can find this in many places. Look through ministers manuals. Find something you can use as a template. You can find a readymade wedding ceremony template at www.WeddingVowKit.com .
Sit down with the couple ahead of time and find out what they want included in their wedding. I am finding that many couples are wanting "simple." Write down their names correctly and ask them how to pronounce their names. Write them down in such a way that you can see how to pronounce them. Take notes in your meeting and get all the details.
Find a good order of service. Look at wedding programs. They vary, but many have the same basic elements of the wedding ceremony and show who does what. The basic elements are seating of the families / mothers, groom and groomsmen enter (there are variations), bridal party enters, bride enters, presentation of the bride, bride and groom at the front, message by minister, wedding vows, ring vows, unity candle (optional), pronouncement of marriage and kiss, blessing and prayer, presentation of couple, recessional, announcement about reception.
Step Four Sit down with your wedding ceremony and order of service side by side to see the transitions for yourself. Make yourself some note in the margins of your ceremony.
Step Five Meet and Discuss details ahead of time with the wedding planner or wedding coordinator if they have one. Ask them their preferences. They will be extremely helpful. Find out how weddings are usually performed in that venue or wedding location.
Step Six Sketch out a walkthrough of the entire ceremony on paper using bullet points. If you are fortunate enough to have a skilled wedding coordinator, then you will only have to be responsible for the ceremony portion of the wedding rehearsal. The ceremony itself should only take about 12-15 minutes.
Step Seven Print out a rough draft of your wedding ceremony. Take notes on it to show the transitions. What are transitions? When you are performing a wedding ceremony there are several different parts of the ceremony, when the bride and her father walk down the aisle and you ask everyone to stand, when you welcome everyone, when you present the bride, when the couple takes their place in front of you, when you give your message, when you begin the vows, etc. Mark up your rough draft.
Step Eight Print out a copy of the wedding ceremony with the bride's and groom's names in a booklet form. This is usually 8x11 sheet of paper that is printed in 2 columns on front and back that can be folded to form a 4 page booklet. If you use Microsoft Word then when you get ready to print, you can click "print" from the file menu, then go to "properties," then click on duplex and choose booklet form. This will allow you to print to both sides. On some printers you may have to choose "manual duplex" which means you will have to print one side, manually take the paper out and then put it back in the appropriate way to print the next page on the opposite side. Be prepared to experiment with this a few times to figure it out. Be prepared to use several sheets of paper before you finally get it right, but don't give up.
Step Nine Write yourself some notes about the transitions in the margin of your wedding ceremony. (Example: Who gives this woman...Father answers, "Her mother and I do." Father kisses bride, shakes groom's hand, places their hands together and is seated. Bride and Groom step to front. Remind bride to give her flowers to maid of honor.) Step Ten Use the "red rubber band method." Fold your completed wedding ceremony in half into a mini booklet. Open your Bible to the appropriate page probably someplace close to the center. Place your ceremony in the Bible and then take a "red rubber band" and stretch it in the center fold of the ceremony and over the spine to hold it in place and keep it from blowing out of your Bible on a windy day. (Note: If you have a special reading such as a Unity Candle or Sand Ceremony print them out on a separate sheet of paper in the same booklet format and use the "red rubber band method" on them too. Make a note in your wedding ceremony where the special reading appears so you will know to flip back to that page. Mark it with a paper clip if you need to.)
Step Eleven Attend the wedding rehearsal. Again, hopefully, the happy couple has a wedding coordinator who will instruct everyone on where to be and when. If not, then they will be looking to you to do that since you are the minister. Do yourself a favor and find out before the wedding rehearsal. If you are in charge, then get a good book on how to conduct a wedding rehearsal. The rehearsal will help you and the couple and everyone involved know the order and flow of the service. Find out where you are supposed to be before the ceremony begins; when you are supposed to enter; Where you are supposed to stand; what type of microphone you will be using, handheld or lapel; when you are supposed to exit; if you are expected to invite people to the reception; etc. After the rehearsal, update your wedding ceremony and make any changes that you discovered during the rehearsal. (Note: If you need help conducting the wedding rehearsal and you never have done it before, then you can find some help at www.WeddingRehearsalGenie.com .)
Step Twelve On the day of the wedding, arrive early, 30 - 60 minutes early. Check in with the wedding planner. Check in with the DJ or Audio Visual Tech and do a microphone check. Check in with the groom. check in with the bride. Go somewhere where you can be alone to read through your ceremony. Since you have read through the ceremony several times, you will not have to read it word for word. You will have it in front of you in case you mess up or lose your place. But you can refer to it as needed and it will keep you on track. Some parts you will want to read, such as selected readings or poems, and the wedding vows. I still get alone and go over the ceremony even though I have done hundreds of weddings. After the ceremony, sign the license, be available for a couple of photos, and enjoy the reception or if you have other responsibilities then slip out quietly.
Summary Following these simple steps will allow you to perform a beautiful wedding ceremony that you will be proud of, the couple will be grateful for, and you will be able to repeat as needed. It will also keep you and the couple who is trusting you from being embarrassed in front of family and friends. Work hard on the preparation and then you can enjoy the process and the people.
About The Author Dr. Kelly Carr holds degrees in ministry from Liberty University, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been in full time ministry as a Pastor, Youth Pastor, and Church Pastor for more than 20 years also holding leadership positions in the community, association, state and national level. He has performed more than 400 weddings and wedding renewal ceremonies. Dr. Carr truly enjoys helping young couples prepare for their weddings and their new life together. He also enjoys working with Pastors and other Ministers and helping them develop their ministries, and also helping them increase their income opportunities by performing weddings. Dr. Carr lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his beautiful bride of 24 years and his three awesome children. You can find more of his resources for ministers at www.WeddingIncome.com .
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