After the processional comes the gathering words, or opening words. This means exactly what it says. In movies you’ll hear the Officiant say something to the tune of “dearly beloved we are gathered here today….” In less traditional ceremonies it is a time used to call everyone to attention to let them know the ceremony is beginning and to take their places or seats. Again that usually comes before the processional but many Officiants consider it parts of the gathering words. However, others differentiate the two by naming the next section as any orator would, opening words.
So the gist of it is to start the official ceremony, acknowledge those gathered together to witness, introduce themselves and the couple they are about to marry and tell them what they are here to witness. That’s it. It can be as short and sweet or long and flowery or not as each couple wants it.
This is a great time to acknowledge and special family or friends such as those who have passed away or the parents of the bride and groom. This is also an optimal time for a reading if you plan to have more than one in your ceremony. Short ones like quotes would be great here. It is also the best time to explain any particular rituals that your guests may not be familiar with. Especially those where you would ask them to participate in such as ring warming.
And of course, many religious ceremonies use this time to acknowledge or invoke any higher powers that may be present or would like to be present. Creating sacred space or saying a prayer.
Tell me, how would you like to start your wedding ceremony? Who would you acknowledge? If anyone? What unique opening readings have peaked your interest? Let me know in the comments.