So A Friend Asked You To Officiate A Wedding…

This is a shoutout to all of the friends who are tasked with the incredibly high honor of officiating your friends’ weddings. Your good friend asked you because you have that silky voice; you have a way with words; you have that je ne sais quoi of commanding everyone’s attention; you’re funny but sincere; you’re basically totally awesome.

So imagine this: you’ve written this gorgeous ceremony. You have all of your notes, with cues as to when to call up a friend doing a reading or the moment to ask for the rings. You’re ready to go. And you’re about to start walking up the aisle with your good friend behind you, to wait at the altar, and you are a minute away from starting your big speech.

Here are the things I wish I could tell all friendly, non-professional officiants before they start their ceremony. Three really easy things that sometimes get overlooked by the big-picture stuff.

tilt shift wedding photos

One: Tell everyone to sit down.

This is something that gets completely forgotten! Guests are conditioned to stand when they see a bride start to walk down the aisle. (It’s usually a bride. Sometimes it’s the couple, walking themselves down. Sometimes there isn’t even a bride at all.) Guests will do this, unbidden, because it’s part of the wedding tradition.

But they don’t really know when to sit down. Customarily, there was a time when everyone stayed standing for the father-daughter giveaway, or a religious recitation, and were asked to sit afterwards by the priest. You’re a friend who is in command of this crowd now. Gently remind people that they can take a seat after the aisle walk but before all the long, official stuff.

I’ve actually seen a few ceremonies where guests weren’t prompted to sit, so they remained standing. It’s a little awkward. It’s not super comfortable for them. And it makes for some uneven photos. Do your friends a solid and remember to insert that little bit into your ceremony.

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Two: If you’re miked up, remember to share.

Let’s hear it for the people in the back! Oftentimes, the officiant is the only one who is miked up by the sound engineers because it’s what makes the most sense: you’re standing in one place and you’ll be doing most of the talking. But folks attended the wedding to hear the couple recite their vows.

If you have the little microphone pinned to you, ask the sound engineer if it’s sensitive enough to pick up the couple’s voice if they’re standing a foot away, or if there’s a way to pluck it off and hold it in front of the couple while they talk.

If it’s a larger microphone on a stand, point it in the direction of the person speaking so everyone can hear what’s being said.

same sex wedding ceremony

Three: Step to the side during the kiss.

Any side! Take a step to the left, take a step the right.

The traditional “first kiss” shot of the ceremony is usually straight down the aisle, and if you are still standing in the middle of them, we get a tiny hint of your grin in the space between the couple’s necks. It’s eerie.

If you step to either side, your entire face can be in the photo, and you won’t be in between them. It’ll make for a better photo and you’re still in the shot!

Photos from various weddings where the officiants did fabulous jobs! Rachael and Andrew’s officiant had everyone sit. Deb and Zach’s officiant shared his microphone. Katie and Lacey’s officiant stepped to the side. Yay! 

Jordan & Nathan | Brewery Wedding

karbach brewery wedding

Jordan and Nate’s wedding was like a warm hug: on a sunny March day in Houston, 100 of their friends and family joined them at Karbach Brewery to celebrate their relationship. Most of the celebration was handmade or heirloom: Jordan’s ring was a family ring, her mother made the succulent centerpieces, and Jordan (a talented artist) drew shapes pertaining to her and Nate’s relationship for a poster that guests could color in.

It was a relaxed, happy celebration without much tradition besides an aisle, vows, and a kiss! The couple had gourmet donuts instead of cake, and spent most of their time visiting with all of their well-wishers. It was pretty much perfect.

The full gallery of Jordan and Nathan’s wedding can be found here.

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Credits: Karbach Brewery (venue and catering); Hugs & Donuts; Porsche’s Place (dress); florals by bride’s mother

Shelley & Patrick | The Dunlavy Wedding | Houston

the kitchen at dunlavy wedding photos

Her mother’s wedding veil, pinned to her soft waves with a clip made from her grandmother’s jewelry: Shelley honored her family in this subtle way. Her father, a minister, helped to marry Shelley and Patrick in Patrick’s home church, with one of the most beautiful homilies I’ve ever heard in my time as a wedding photographer.

It was an overcast day, with patchy rain, the luckiest kind of wedding day :) The couple and their lovely friends and family enjoyed homemade cookies (baked by the bride’s mother) and fancy paella (made by the Kitchen at Dunlavy) in the gorgeous, multi-chandeliered, glass-enclosed space overlooking Buffalo Bayou.

Congratulations to this sweet couple! If you are family or friends of Shelley and Patrick, you can view their gallery and order prints here.

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Credits: Pines Presbyterian Church; The Kitchen at Dunlavy (reception venue space & catering); Wink by Erica (cake) & cookies by bride’s mother; The Blooming Idea (florals); JPL Entertainment; The Upper Hand‘s Kelsey Finney (hair); Y’abal Handicrafts (ties)