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The Ceremony Officiant Didn’t Show Up!

What happens when the Officiant doesn’t show up for the Ceremony? Yikes!

Has this ever happened to you?

This just recently happened to one of our Coordinators.  She was working with a couple providing Wedding Day Management services and like always she sent out the timeline to the vendors the week before the wedding and confirmed receipt with all of them.

When the day came, everything was running smoothly up until the officiant was supposed to arrive.  Typically they arrive 15-30 minutes before the ceremony is supposed to start as they are usually packing in ceremonies back to back.

As the minutes started to tick by she called the officiant to inquire as to his arrival time but she couldn’t get through to him.  She called again and again with NO ANSWER.

Quickly she realized that she might not have an officiant for the ceremony that was about to start so she started to go into troubleshooting mode and started working on a solution.

It was also time to let the Bride & Groom in on what was happening.  She didn’t want to panic them but she needed to let them know why they were not going to be starting on time.  At the same time she let them know that she was working on a solution so that she could ease their worry.


Well she called upon her team to start calling officiants.  We started calling officiants that we worked with on a regular basis to find out if they could fill in and conduct the ceremony.  Of course it was one of the busiest days of the year so we knew that it was going to be difficult to find someone.  At the same time we started calling officiants that we didn’t necessarily know but that were on the city’s “general” list of officiants.  We had to work fast and open ourselves up to all options.

Thankfully we got through to one of the officiants that just happened to be conducting a ceremony at the hotel across the street and who agreed to come over right after.

The ceremony only ended up being 30 minutes late which was a small amount of time that the Coordinator had to stall things and it didn’t set the event back by too much.  Phew!  Crisis averted!


Well, being able to think quick on your feet and be resourceful (i.e. tapping into your support group and industry connections) is vital to the success of a wedding.

Also, taking the time to REASSURE your Bride & Groom that everything is going to be ok.  It’s easy to get caught up in crisis mode but you need to remember to communicate in times like this.


Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Stay Calm
  2. Think about your options to solve the situation
  3. Involve people in finding a solution (i.e. your vendors, your own team, etc.)
  4. Don’t forget or be afraid to communicate with your Bride & Groom about what’s going on, ideally once you’ve started working on a solution so that they feel more at ease.**  When it comes to the ceremony a delay of 5 or 10 minutes can feel like an eternity.

**Not all situations are going to require that you alert the Bride & Groom as some things are best left unsaid and that’s part of the reason that they’ve hired you…to troubleshoot things that come up.  However, in situations like this they need to be involved and made aware of what’s happening.

Obviously having someone else conduct the ceremony is not an ideal situation but here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Remind your Bride & Groom that this new officiant has conducted many ceremonies and is very much qualified to conduct their ceremony.
  2. Give the new officiant and the Bride & Groom a few moments to talk about what is most important to them with the ceremony.  Whether it’s saying their own personal vows, or acknowledging someone who isn’t able to attend the ceremony.  This is the only ceremony that the Bride & Groom are going to have so even though things may be running behind, it’s still important to take the time to talk about the details.
  3. Make sure the officiant knows how to pronounce the couple’s names!  Sometimes they will be a no brainer but let’s try to avoid any other hiccups and have the officiant pronounce the couple’s names correctly.


Worst case scenario, a family member or friend can conduct a ceremony in order to keep the day’s events moving, and later in the day or the following morning, an officiant can perform a binding ceremony and sign the proper documents.

OR, if you’re up for it, you can get yourself ordained and fill in when times like this arise (if your city/state allows it)!

So tell us, what would you do if you found yourself in this situation?


#BIPTip, #BecomeanINCREDIBLEWeddingPlanner #Ceremony #officiantnoshow


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– Sarah & Genève

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