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Should Wedding Ceremonies Include Laughter?

I remember the days when a joke or a funny mistake during a wedding ceremony would have been cause for awkwardness, embarrassment, tears, and possibly even anger. Generally, even today, wedding ceremonies are beautiful, serene, and somewhat solemn events. But are they still 100% serious? Should they be?

formal serious church wedding

Everyone has their own style and wishes for their big day, of course, and my entire focus as an officiant is to present a ceremony that reflects the couple’s personality, style, and desires. It’s what the couple wants that matters to me, so if they prefer a complelety serious ceremony, that’s what I’ll provide.

Nevertheless, I do always make this suggestion to each couple because everyone at the wedding needs a lighter moment at least once or twice during the ceremony. This gives the couple, the wedding party, and the guests a chance to regroup, break the tension, stop the flow of tears, or just have a moment to smile.

humor at wedding

There are officiants who specialize in comedic ceremonies, in which most of the ceremony is humorous. That’s not my style, but I can certainly agree that for some couples, that’s the perfect way to go. I usually prefer a mostly sweet, loving, beautifully-worded ceremony, with a moment or two of humor thrown in at strategic places. This tends to work best for the majority of weddings.

When should a little humor be used in a wedding ceremony?

What’s the right moment? There’s no “right answer” to this, but more often than not, I’ll share a small humorous fact about the couple, or relate a quick funny story about them during the introduction, and then add a reason to chuckle somewhere near the ring exchange. Both instances will be very short (usually just a sentence or two at most), designed to lighten the mood, draw out some giggles, and then seque back to the serious moment at hand.

What about those unplanned oopsies that always seem to happen at a wedding?

Everyone holds their breath for a moment to see how the wedding party deals with mid-ceremony mishaps, and when handled with humor, sighs of relief or light laughter makes the moment enjoyable rather than tragic.

Here’s an example of such a moment.

We all know the general “I Do” part of the ceremony. It’s one of the most important segments, and in fact, the marriage isn’t even legal without it! It usually goes something like this: “Do you, John, take Jane, to be your lawfully wedded wife, and do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, forsaking all others, and be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live?” And then of course, John would reply “I Do”. But often, the officiant only manages to get out “Do you, John, take Jane, to be your lawfully wedded wife”, and then while pausing to catch a breath before finishing the rest, the groom will quickly jump in with his “I Do”.

Rather than getting flustered, or making a frowny face at the groom, the officiant should be able to make light of the moment, by spontaneously making a remark such as, “It’s always wonderful when the groom is enthusiastic!” Everyone enjoys an easy laugh, the groom’s horror at messing up is eased somewhat, and we can easily get back on track and proceed.

It's much better to make light of a little wedding ceremony oopsie than it is to be shaken up by it. Click To Tweet

When I meet with a couple, we’ll discuss this, and decide whether to include some humor, and if so, what and when to use it. I’ll generally pull from some of the stories the couple has shared with me, moments in their past, and add something that refers back to those times somewhere within the draft of the ceremony I write. If the couple likes those bits of humor, we’ll keep them or edit them somewhat, just as we’ll edit any other part of the ceremony as the couple wishes.

Whether planned and scripted, or spontaneously generated during an “oopsie” moment, humor during a wedding ceremony is almost always a good call – as long as it is short, appropriate, and light. Consider adding a touch of humor to your wedding. I think you’ll be happy with the result.

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