How to Officiate a Friend's Wedding - Housekeeping
The Housekeeping Message is the most important part
of setting the stage for a spirited, engaging ceremony.
Why? Well, because it gets the party started! The number one secret ingredient in a great wedding is warming up the guests. Too many times they’ve been to other weddings where they have been a passive audience, but a truly fabulous wedding ceremony is one where the guests are excited and involved. This is how you do it!
First, start with asking them a question they can joyfully respond to such as, ‘Is everyone here, excited to finally see these two get married!!!?’
Second, humour. Examples like, ‘Do we have everyone here? If anyone is not here, please raise your hand? Excellent, now we will be will begin!
“So, before we get started, I always like to take a moment to remind you…. That if you’ve arrived today with a cell phone in your pocket, now is a good time to take it out and make sure that it is on silent… or that you have a really …. cool… ring tone.” No one wants to be that person whose phone goes off in the ceremony, so you are not only doing them a favour, but you are also giving them insight into the tone of the presentation. To say this in a calm, sober manner, you are inviting them to see the subtle hints of humour that they are now going to subconsciously listen intently for. It gets their attention.
Third, If the wedding is Unplugged, meaning that the couple does not want guests to take photos, you can ask everyone to “Please put away your cameras, cell phones, iPads, Go Pros, and any other recording devices - as all photography will be done by the professionals. Anyone taking photos during the ceremony without the explicit permission of the couple … will be denied dessert.” Be fun, but also slightly serious as this is the one thing that does require more work than all other directions.
The auntie sitting in the aisle around 4 chairs down is the biggest culprit for jumping out with her camera and ruining the professional's shot. You’ll see her. And if you don’t make it extraordinarily clear - yes, she will ruin that beautiful photo that the couple has paid good money for a professional to capture. And, the couple may even assume you forgot to tell the guests not to take photos because of it.
I look her in the eyes and say, ‘I’m watching you…’ and give her a wink. But if this doesn’t work, I simply say, “I’ll tell you why. _____ and ____ love you so much, that you have been invited to this very special day as their most cherished family and friends. Today is not only a union of the two of them, but they also recognize it as a coming together of all of those dearest to them. The photographer, _________*, is not only going to be taking photos of the couple, but they are also taking photos of YOU for the couple to cherish forever.”
*Yes, I say the name of the photographer. A great wedding includes feeling like everyone is welcomed in as a new family. The photographer is a member of that experience, and saying their name not only makes them feel included, but it also invites guests to get more comfortable with that person being a part of the event and not just the person documenting it.
Fourth, I would recommend using a handheld microphone, when possible, for these reasons:
· Although you may be able to project your voice, it doesn’t make the couple feel as comfortable as they could be when you’re projecting your voice INTO them. It’s like standing beside someone who is shouting at them. It also allows the everyone to sound more natural.
· Some couples feel like holding a microphone will feel too their ceremony is too much like a performance, but in the same manner, they don’t want to shout their vows into each other’s face. And, if they are too quiet, they will hear an auntie complaining about not being able to hear their vows at the back of the room for the entire reception.
· Handheld microphones allow for more control over the sounds being heard, so if you have to cough, clear your throat, or even to whisper instructions such as coaxing the couple to move directly into the middle of the ceremony site for a good photo, it keeps this just between the three of you.
· An engaging ceremony means you are making eye contact with the guests, so if you have a lapel or lavalier microphone and you are moving your head around, it loses the sound and the way the sound goes out to the guests.
· Just a heads up, if a videographer comes up to you with a wireless microphone, this is to ‘collect’ not ‘project’ your voice for the video.
MOST IMPORTANTLY - Remind guests to sit down once the wedding party and couple have arrived at the front of the room. When Friends perform the ceremony, this is the number one rookie mistake that they make because they are so focused on getting right into the ceremony.