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What I Learned Officiating My First Wedding

Many months ago at La Vallesana on Cherokee, my dear friends Summer and Ryan asked if I would officiate their wedding. I was surprised and delighted by the question. It sounded like fun thing to give a shot for two people I care deeply about. It was interesting to reflect on though days later. I feel like one of my earlier internet memories is hearing about people becoming ordained online but thinking it seemed a bit weird. Fast forward 15+ years and its increasingly common. I've been to two other weddings this year and both were officiated by family rather than by some type of religious official.

About eight weeks ago I signed up on the Universal Life Church's registry and they sent me a packet of things verifying my standing as eligible to officiate over ceremonies.

And earlier this week, the to-be-married couple came by my house to walk through the ceremony and how it would play out. This left me a couple days to get comfortable with the event's flow and the script I would work through with the goal of speaking more and reading less.

As I now look back on the hours leading up to the ceremony, the "15 minutes of fame" itself, and the time after, here is what comes to mind:

  • There are many more "moving parts" in a wedding ceremony that I realized previously only as a guest.

  • Please be seated: as someone who rarely, if ever, attends religious ceremonies, weddings are one of the few occasions where I am in the company of a group of people who are waiting on instructions of what to do. So five minutes into my first wedding ceremony, when I looked out and saw the photographer signaling for me to have people sit down, I asked them "to please be seated" and had to laugh at the fact I'd forgotten that part.

  • Vows, rings and flowers oh my: Keeping track of hand-written vows, actually handling and passing rings in front of a crowd and who to hand which ceremonial flowers off to when takes some practice

  • Friends and family focus on what went well, while we focus on what didn't: after the ceremony concluded I fixated on the few parts that didn't flow well. Meanwhile, I received many compliments on how it was conducted and the light-hearted tone. No one but me noticed what didn't go perfect. Always an important lesson

  • Don't forget to sign the marriage license: after all that fancy talk its easy to forget that the government still wants you to verify that the ceremony took place.

In this journey we call life, a new experience is almost always one I'm down for especially when it is in the company of good friends. But I feel like I have a bit more humility for the process now having been through it.

Go Forth Boldly

p.s. During the reception, I was asked by an engaged couple if I'd consider officiating their wedding. Round two may be just around the corner.

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