Let's talk about common pitfalls that come with friends and family assisting at your ceremony and how to overcome them. Trust us, we see a lot of folks get these things wrong and it's just...awkward. Save the embarrassment and read ahead of time! This article will be helpful for both the officiant AND the couple!
Lets begin with some of the common errors new officiants make, but please also check out the related tips at the bottom as well:
Forgetting to tell the audience to sit down after the Bride walks down the aisle. This is not only awkward for the audience as they are left standing looking around and wondering if they should be sitting, but it also causes problems for your photographer and videographer who now are limited to getting shots taken from down the aisle only. Solution: Check that your officiant plans to announce this, and that it is in their notes and that they stick to the notes. By the way, are they using notes or some sort in the first place? 'Winging it' at a wedding is never recommended, no matter how casual you want the day to be.
Forgetting to announce for the audience to stand when the Bride enters. Yes, this happens too but it is less of a problem as most audiences will stand on their own since most know this tradition
For the first kiss, the officiant should either move WAYYYY off to the side or stay hidden behind the couple. There is no middle ground! Most officiant 101 articles found online will suggest moving off to the side for the first kiss so that the officiant is not in the photo, however most officiants do this incorrectly by only slightly moving off to the side which places them perfectly next to the couple in the photos (facepalm). Solution: If you are going to move off to the side, consider going more than 2 feet over, or better yet, center yourself behind the couple so we can use the couple to block you from the photo. Most photographers (including us) will shoot the first kiss from down the center aisle, so this little trick woks well.
Coach the couple where to stand ahead of time, don't stand with backs facing the audience. We've been to more than a few ceremonies where the couple faces toward the officiant with backs toward the audience. This doesn't exactly make for the best ceremony photos, and it isn't really appropriate for us photographers (who normally hang near the back so as not to be intrusive) to come up and ask you to re-position yourselves mid-ceremony. Officiants, coach your couples to center themselves, face each other, hold hands, and smile!
Sand Ceremony? Unity Candle lighting? Tying the Know ceremony during the wedding? We want to see it! Along the lines of the above, if you are doing any of these special ceremonies during the wedding, angle yourselves so the audience (and photographer) can see what you are doing! Again, avoid backs to the audience for obvious and photographic reasons.
Have your officiant announce that family should remain here for family photos. In most weddings, we'll do the family photos right after the ceremony in the same spot. Your officiant can save you
a lot of time by simply announcing for family to remain in the ceremony area, otherwise we'll spend extra time after the ceremony rounding family up (usually from the bar line!). This cuts into your reception time as a couple. This announcement is best made by the officiant after the couple and wedding party exit.
BONUS TIP! Having a friend run the music and/or audio during the ceremony? First off, a good professional DJ will take a huge weight off your mind since they will handle all this without issue. If you still insist on having a friend do it, consider having them do a test run the day before or as early as possible the day of. We've seen many a family/friend anxiously trying to solve last minute issues on their bluetooth speaker, or not realizing there is little cell service and they should have downloaded the music ahead of time, or they forgot to turn off notifications on their phone and the ding sound went through the PA system, the list goes on and on...
BONUS, BONUS TIP: For ceremonies and toasts, use a microphone and speaker no matter what! **cue Aunt or family member who exclaims "oh but trust me, I'm loud enough already". No, trust us, you're not and the people in the back can't hear you, especially 1 minute into your toast when you forget to keep talking loud.
We hope this helps, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions!