Our Priest Can't Make It to the Wedding, So He Sent a Different Priest to Officiate. Now What?

Ceremony & Vows, Etiquette

While most of your wedding-planning energy goes into the reception, it would really just be a party without the ceremony. After all, that's the part where you get married! And it's a lot more than simply saying "I do" — there are hours of conversations, considerations, and choice-making that go into creating a ceremony that fits who you are as a couple (and enable your officiant to tell the story of your relationship before you say your vows). But what happens when, after all that planning, your priest or rabbi is unable to perform the ceremony when your wedding day arrives? Here are a few tips from our experts to help ensure your ceremony is still incredibly special.

Whether it's a family emergency or another parishioner at your church is in need of the priest's support and guidance, being paired with a new officiant at the last minute could throw a wrench into your carefully crafted plans. The good thing is that it doesn't have to.

Spend a few minutes with your new officiant in private at your rehearsal. Walk through the ceremony script you've created, and explain any references or stories that might not be immediately clear to someone who doesn't know the history of your relationship. If you have a little time, put together a brief synopsis of how you met and fell in love, the things that matter most to the two of you, and why you've decided to get married. (You can also direct him or her toward your wedding website!) While it won't be the in-depth backstory your original officiant had, it will help your new officiant provide context and a more personal spin on the next day's proceedings.

See more: Do We Have to Invite Our Officiant to the Reception?

You may also want to have a full rehearsal of the ceremony instead of just practicing walking down the aisle. You can skip over things like longer readings and your personalized vows, but have your officiant read through the rest of the script to get familiar with what you've put together. This is also a great opportunity to make sure he or she knows how to correctly pronounce everyone's names, as well as who to cue for different readings or rituals you've included. Review where everyone should stand, which way you're facing, and any moments when the two of you will need to walk to a different part of the altar.

Remember that, even though this person isn't the officiant you'd originally chose, they've performed weddings before and will be able to officiate yours with the fewest hiccups possible. Then focus on repeating your vows, exchanging rings, and that first kiss!

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