When you, your guests, and family show up for your wedding, your utmost desire is for your officiant to be an instant “hit,” at best, or well-received, at worst. It’s never a good sign when the minister blows it with someone’s name or seems unprepared. The officiant sets the tone for the entire wedding in the first sixty seconds with what he/she says and how he/she says it. (I must confess that, in my twelve years of performing weddings, I once blew it with someone’s last name.)
In my observation, wedding officiants generally fall into three or four categories in the way they perform weddings. First, you have Soothing Sam, who oozes with a syrupy style of delivery in which, I suppose, he hopes to engage the audience with his sincerity and smooth speaking style. When everyone leaves, they go away in a kind of semi-sedated, tranquilized state.
Then you have Happy Hal, whose smile seems almost omnipresent (everywhere present). A smile is a real gift when it comes to calming a nervous Bride or Groom and setting the tone for the wedding but I sometimes wonder if it is a bit overdone. Not everything in wedding ceremony lends itself to being said with a smile. Everyone may leave feeling uplifted and with a smile on their faces, which is fine, but have they grasped the gravity of the occasion?
You also have Business Bob, whose whole style smacks of seriousness or even somberness. Certainly, a wedding ceremony is a serious occasion but you don’t want people walking away wishing the guy could “lighten up.”
What I personally try to do is a combination of all of the above. As a professional communicator, I attempt to match my demeanor and voice inflections to the words I am saying. I have a lot of musical training. Sometimes, I build things up to a climactic point (crescendo) or say things smoothly (legato). At times, I emphasize certain words to make a point (accent) or allow thoughts to “soak in” with a few seconds of total silence. I say some things softly (pianissamo) and other things intensely (forte). My style of delivery is rooted in my musical background such that, when it’s all said and done, I want everyone to sense that I have delivered ”substance from the heart.”