How to 'conduct' a Ceremony. Essential tips if you have been asked to read at a wedding.
'Conduct'? I hear you cry? Yes, conduct. This is what we call performing a ceremony in the registration service and that is what you, the reader, will be doing. Performing a ceremony for a friend or family member is not just about reading a ceremony from a piece of paper. You are standing up front, and the couple, the bridal party and the guests will be looking to you for guidance whether you like it or not really. You have a choice, you can just read the words and let the ceremony fall into shambles, or you can grab the bull by the horns, take that confidence you already have and manage or conduct that ceremony so that it flows together fabulously! Of course it should still be fun, and I am not trying to put you off, but with a little thought and stage management, you can still have loads of fun and everyone, including the guests will feel engaged.
Believe me, you are in control, whether you want to be or not and everyone will look to you........... you are not only guiding the bride and groom, but the guests too. People like to be guided, they like being directed and know what they are doing rather than being 'unsure'. You need to start as guests are arriving for the ceremony....Talk to people in the lead up to the ceremony. Just mooch about, around 20 mins before and let everyone know what they are doing - you are the one in charge, this is why we call it 'conducting' a ceremony.
Taken from Phil & Caroline's Bride Buddy wedding 2017.
Make sure the bridesmaids know where they are going as they get to the bottom of the aisle. Are they going sideways, do they have chairs? Do they want to stand? Use hand gestures to point them in the right direction. I have done so many weddings where the bridesmaids get to the end of the aisle and dither about while the bride is coming down and catching up with them and they still don't know where to go and the photographer is getting cross because he wants his shot of the bride walking down, but the bridesmaids are in the way!
Make sure the Best Man stands beside the groom until the ceremony starts, tell him in advance, that when the bride joins the groom, he needs to step to one side, but stay near. Maybe make sure the witnesses have decent seats to get out of so they can come up easily, and the readers too. Make sure they have copies of their reading on them and that the vows that the bride and groom want to say are on the table, or held loosely in your book so you can hand them to them when needed, then take them off them. Take the brides flowers from her when she arrives at the grooms side, or if they come in together. Tell them to hold hands....I hate to see a couple standing apart, not holding hands, but again, this only happens because you haven't guided them, and they are nervous too. Either place the flowers on the table, or give to a bridesmaid. Give them back to her, after they have exchanged rings. You can add all this in RED in on your ceremony as side notes to remind you do it, along with notes for yourself such as 'please sit down' at the top. Talk to whoever is doing the music. Ask them to fade the music slowly when the bride arrives, not to cut it off. Think about how and when you introduce the happy couple as married. This can be a great opportunity to get the guests involved.
There is so much more help given when you order a Bride Buddy ceremony, but here are a few more tips to make sure your ceremony runs smoothly.
The groom always goes first in everything. If you are celebrating a same sex couple, choose one to go first and try and stick to it. It helps to round the smoothness of your words.
If there are going to be any readings, get the readers names and the reading they will do and type everything exactly how you need to introduce them.
Try not to have any last-minute pen scribbles on the typed-out ceremony, it will only confuse you on the day (I guarantee it)
Don't worry if you end up with 15 pages, so long as everything is CLEAR - WELL SPACED OUT and includes EVERYTHING, from readers names, to 'please stand' and 'please sit' and you will be ok.
When you are not used to it, - LOOKING UP at guests while you are reading is hard, but it is what you want - but LOOKING BACK DOWN at the ceremony in your hand and as a 'newbie' it's so very easy to lose your place. Use your left thumb as you hold the book to move down the lines with your eyes as you read and then when you look back at where your thumb is, you will pick up where you left off.
Go slow......don't worry about little pauses while you re-find your place. It sounds more professional to pause. Don't rush it.
There is a lot more available on the website and if we created a ceremony for you this would include a lot more comprehensive advice, ideas and most of the pointers would also be written into your script, just to give you the right reminders in all the right places! If you need a personal ceremony professionally written for you, get in touch now. Like one of our readers, Vicki, you will end up enjoying it so much you will want to do it again! Read her story here.