You’re an unscary person by nature
Not everyone at a wedding is looking at the officiant as someone they want to meet.
They have, we all have, our preconceived perceptions. Tell me if I’m wrong about that, please!
No matter how great of a job you do as an officiant, people may shy away from you. In fact, some look downright uncomfortable when you walk their way as if you’re a really scary person out to do them harm.
There’s been times when I looked at a wedding guest, and I wondered if they thought if they talked to me, I was going to put them on the spot.
A scary, uncomfortable spot.
No vampire fangs
It’s clear I don’t have vampire fangs nor horns coming out of my head. I’m pretty darn sure I don’t give dirty looks or convey any vibes that I expect a confession about anyone’s lack of attending church or not praying every night.
I can’t tell you how many plane trips I’ve taken and when the poor person next to me asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was a minister. Oi vey. People sometimes sank in their seat and the conversation would revert to something they felt guilty about.
After enough of these kinds of encounters I just told row mates that I worked with people on a personal level. Then we could have a decent conversation.
If religion never came up I’d be happy as a clam whether at a wedding or on a plane, train or in an automobile.
Projection and expectations are scary
Too often when people hear the word “minister”, “reverend”, even “officiant”, they are unconsciously scared. They may assume you’re religious and by association, judgmental. They may irrationally think you’ll have expectations they can’t live up to (“I don’t go to church even though I know I should”) , (“Then don’t if you don’t want to,” I say to myself).
These fears of expectations originate in the eye of the beholder, in that person’s perceptions.
Or on the other end of the spectrum, certain guests want to match up holiness points. (It happens, what can I say). A kind of spiritual pissing match. “Oh yes, I can officiate too.” “I pray every day.” “My pastor is my best friend.” (I’ve heard them all.) It’s scary to see the ego come out that way, but again, it happens.
The sad part is
What can end up happening is people shy away from making a connection that could be really fun, helpful and even meaningful.
And yes, may even give an opportunity for you to receive a well-earned compliment. “That was really a nice ceremony you did.”
The bests unscary way to connect with people as who YOU are is to help change perceptions. To avoid the perception of-who-I-am-and-what-I want-from-you trap, I have a few questions I ask that help a huge amount to smooth the choppy waters of discomfort.
Let me say quickly here as a kind of caveat that I believe it is our inherent nature to love and let ourself BE loved, but time and culture have made us wary and maybe even downright scared of each other.
Questions to break the ice
So here are the major questions I use that can help you if you run into the same kinds of situations (and I’m SURE you will).
- “Who of the couple do you know?” is the first question.
- “What can you tell me about him/her?” comes next.
- “How long have you known bride/groom?” works well for the last question.
These simple questions can break the ice and give you an opportunity to connect with a friend or family member of your couple. But you may also make a connection with someone who’s either getting married too, or knows someone who is getting married.
You can’t be on all the time
Really, though…you shouldn’t have to worry about making everyone comfortable or always making a connection. That’s not possible. You can’t be “on” all the time.
Sometimes I’m not in the mood for meeting people. But when I do walk out into a gathering of wedding guests, drinks in hand or searching for one, It’s much more fun to engage people.
When you do want to connect and make the impression YOU want to make, try using these questions to break the ice before or after a wedding you’re a part of.
Moments to remember
A nice connection can lead to moments you’ll remember, and hopefully they will too. You may be one who helps others to realize not all officiants/ministers/pastors are created from the same disparaging cloth. We’re really quite unscary!
How I can help
Helping you get more confidence and skillful is what I’m here for. I want to help you make a connection and build your reputation as a great officiant without risking sticking your foot in your mouth.
When reaching out to people you don’t know is done right, schmoozing with guests and breaking the ice will be a great way to get more credibility as an officiant. Being unscary is easier and more fun than you may imagine it to be.
Before you officiate next time
Please feel free to fill out the Contact Us form (won’t take rocket science to figure it out) before you officiate for your first wedding, big or small. We’re here to help you make the most of your ordination and show up as the most unscary person at the wedding.
Your unscary helper,