Basic terminology that every Wedding Officiant Should Know

As a Wedding Officiant or Marriage Minister, you may not be fully familiar with all of the terms and vocabulary used in your work or in the general wedding ceremony process.

Here are some of the most common terms.

In reference to marriage, eloping or elopement typically means a couple getting married without the knowledge or consent of their families or the public.

Traditionally, elopement involved a couple running away together to get married in secret, often to avoid parental disapproval, financial difficulties, or social stigma.

However, in modern times, elopement can also refer to a couple who chooses to have a private, intimate wedding ceremony without a traditional large-scale wedding or reception.

Elopements are often associated with spontaneity and romance, and the couple may choose to have the ceremony in a unique or scenic location.

Upon becoming ordained (q.v.), most churches, religious organizations and ordaining bodies issue a minister’s license as proof of ordination. The valid (active) term of the minister’s license is set by the issuing entity.

Ordination is the process of being officially recognized as a member of the clergy or a religious leader, usually by a religious organization or institution.

When someone becomes ordained, they are given the authority to perform religious ceremonies, rites, or sacraments such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, or communion. In some religions, specific training in that faith’s unique traditions and practices are required prior to the granting of ordination, but there is no such legal requirement in regard to performing marriage ceremonies.

Generally, the person receiving ordination is issued a certificate of ordination and/or a minister’s license (q.v.) as part of their credentials. Ordination as a Wedding Officiant is widely available at no charge or at low cost, including through numerous online sources, although a fee may be required for documents.

To solemnize a marriage is to officially perform the ceremony and, afterwards, to have all parties to the marriage (the bride and groom, the witnesses, and the Officiant) promptly and correctly sign the marriage license, which legalizes the union between the bride and groom. The process is known as solemnization.

Did we miss any terms that pertain to being a Wedding Officiant, ceremonial minister or your role in performing marriage ceremonies? If we’re missing something, please contact us