Wedding Officiant

In my last post I mentioned a September wedding I was attending and wanting to make this little peplum number to wear.

The wedding is for my former intern and now good friend who is an uber fabulous, super successful publicist in New York. I planned to attend as a guest. Well, Tuesday night she called and asked if I would consider officiating her wedding. Did you hear that?

Officiate. The Wedding.

I am so thrilled to be asked and could not be happier to be such a special part of their day. I’m glad I have a few months to get used to the idea so I won’t cry at the podium! After accepting and making sure she wanted me to do it, my second question was ‘What should I wear’?

Consultation with Trena says I should go simple and dark for the ceremony and fun and free for the reception. ย My mom reminded me that black isn’t my best color… this is quite true. The mothers of the bride and groom are wearing navy and the bridesmaids are in gray. ย I was thinking gray… but I don’t want to look like I am a failed / wanna be member of the wedding party. I’m thinking blue grey / pastel blue?

I’ve never been to a wedding where the officiant wasn’t 1. male 2. a minister (I could have just written ‘man-of-the-cloth’, no?).

I could still go with the dress above, but use a deeper color:


I also can’t get lacy Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ideas out of my head:


So, what would you wear if you were officiating a wedding? Not in a church. Multi-denominational. Don’t want all the photos of the vows to have me ‘pop’ either. Long? Short? Sleeveless ok? More formal? Super super simple? Decisions, decisions…


  1. I vote simple and navy for the wedding – universally flattering, won’t stand out in photos, elegant. I would not do lace or the peplum. Instead, simple, clean, classic lines. Of course, the most important thing is being there for your friend and sharing the moment and the joy. . . Congratulations to the soon to be happy couple! Keep us posted!

  2. Since it isn’t in a church I say go for something like the last Kate image. Navy or a, wait, deep purple…. ooooh, yes, deep purple or plum would be fantastic! It would look great with the grey bridesmaid dresses and I think it would be a lovely color on you as well.

    • ETA I think I like the v neckline better for you than the high neckline of the last image.

      I also think you may get quite a bit of conflicting advice – not so helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes, a nice, dried-blood color of purple, a dark crimson, or a rich dark plum-that-is-almost black gets my vote — something with a slight sheen, maybe. No peplum. And no cleavage for an officiant! Not that I object to cleavage, but it distracts the congregation. Lace would be fine. You could do a black lace bolero or overlay on the plum. With a form fitting silhouette and a shorter length you’ll avoid Mother of the Bride syndrome.

        • I don’t know what I would do without Google to look up some of these colors. That’s gorgeous. I never would have thought of these deep purples.

  3. I am coming out of Lurkville here.

    I think the entire lace dress for you. In black with nude /taupe lining.OR Navy lace with taupe/nude underlay or navy lace with lighter navy underlay. No peplum. Classic and understated.

    You will look amazing.

    • Thank you for delurking! I think if I do tone-on-tone lace I can get away without being too MOB or looking bridal. I just salivate when I see these dresses!

  4. As beautiful as you are and will be in whatever you wear, I would keep it very understated. You want to look terrific but you also do not want to take any attention away from the bride. It is her day. If you are planning on changing for the reception, go for the fun there. My personal belief is not sleeveless; a cap sleeve at a minimum. Obviously this is my personal opinion only. I like the idea of the navy or even plum.

  5. If I were doing it, I would avoid lace. It’s too “bridal”, even in colors, and may clash with what the bride decides to wear. I would go simple and understated, as Marihaf suggested. The thing to remember about a wedding is that, while it’s an incredible honor to be asked to officiate, it’s the bride’s day, and everyone else is a supporting player. Lace might be interpreted as trying to upstage her, especially over time when people who see the pictures don’t know you.

    But I think you should make a lace dress for another occasion.

  6. Commenting from experience….yes, you may have never seen a woman in such a role but it’s OK to dress feminine, beautiful and elegant. And certainly don’t go for “understated” Yes, you don’t want a bridesmaid dress but you still want to be a woman up there. She’s likely chosen you for such a leadership role in her wedding because she knows you to be a strong, creative, leader. Something like the Kate dress is beautiful. And sleeveless is really fine. It’s summer!

  7. I vote for the navy Erdem with the 3/4 sleeves! You will be appropriately dressed but stylish and fashionable too. As an aside I can’t believe how many images you’ve pinned from some of my favorite blogs.

    • You’re the one who turned me on to Red Carpet Fashion Awards! I LOVE it. Such great inspiration. I’m also thinking (right now) the Erdem. With lace just at the top for interest.

  8. I have absolutely no idea about the protocol for this sort of thing, but I’ma gonna give my opinion anyway!

    Colour: I too like the above suggestion of plum, I concur that it would look gorgeous on you. I was also thinking about a medium steel blue, that way you’re somewhere between the mothers and the bridesmaids but not too much like either. I think this could also be a fantastic colour on you – if you can see in your head what I see in mine, lol!

    Style: I agree with the others who’ve suggested a very simple, classic style such as a fitted sheath with something like cap sleeves. Although, if it’s still going to be quite warm, check with the bride if she’s ok with sleeveless. I’d also opt for knee length.

    Fabric: I say go for the all-lace dress! However – I’d also say do a matching lining so that there is a hint of texture from the lace without it being a lot of contrast. I do agree with the others who say you want to make sure you don’t distract from the bride/bridal party.

    Make the peplum dress for the reception in whatever luscious/fabulous/extravagant colour/fabric your little heart desires!

    Overall I’d suggest consulting with the bride to see a) what her dress will be like so you make sure you don’t clash; and b) if she had some sort of vision in her head for you already. Or, once you’ve come up with a plan email her something like a mood/design board and get her ok. As someone who was a bride in the last year I can tell you that brides don’t want to have to make ALL the decisions, but when it comes to someone who’s part of the wedding service you’d like to know that they’re going to visually harmonize, and you appreciate being consulted.

    I will be looking forward, along with everyone else, to seeing what you decide on and the results!

  9. I don’t think I’ve left a comment on your blog before, but that is SO cool! I agree with Carolyn!

  10. My vote is for the plum colour and really simple, so classy. I agree with Carolyn that a lace dress would be perfect as long as the lining matches the outer. Just my opinion for this occasion. Congratulations on your role for this very special wedding. I’m sure you will look fantastic in whatever you choose to wear.

  11. The celebrant at my daughter’s wedding wore a bronze sheath dress with a lighter metallic lacy bolero. I remember thinking at the time that she would tone in with most colour schemes. Congratulations on the honour.

  12. Hi, I love your blog! The thing I’d keep probably in mind is that you may be in hundreds of pictures, standing with or between the bride and groom during the ceremony. In the great Kate pictures you chose, all the dresses have at least elbow-length sleeves which helps with the formality/elegance, and those dresses are almost demurely photogenic.

  13. What a wonderful honor! I’m in with navy – or if the bridal party is using a lighter gray – then you could go with a very dark gray. I think that any pop of color would be distracting during the ceremony. I also wouldn’t be too keen on lace unless it was minimal (say on the sleeves). Depending on the formality of the ceremony, sleeves would be preferred and knee length. Then go for all the fun at the reception with any dress you like.

    • Totally agree with Fourkid on both counts. I think it’s good to aim to blend into the wedding party, and dark/medium grey would seem perfect to me. I also agree that lace should be kept to a minimum, so as not to be too bride-like. But maybe a matching lace bolero :-)?
      I’d go for a fairly structure/tailored effect rather than drapey, in keeping with the traditional role. Have you considered a good suit?
      Remember that nearly the whole point of your outfit will be photography.. so if the color is dark, the shape should be a bit distinctive. And you may want to avoid too much shine, so as not to outshine the bride, so to me that’d eliminate the silk dupioni that’d otherwise be a wedding classic.

      Basically, we’re speculating here :-). You should consult the bride specifically, as she may have some ideas of her own, especially knowing that you can come up with anything desired at all. It’d probably be helpful if she can provide you with swatches of the grey/colors she means to use. You can put the up front work into pattern selection and muslin, and push back actual fabric buying till she’s set on what she wants and can give you very concrete information.

  14. I agree that something in the purple range would look great against navy and grey. I love the idea of a lace dress too–they’re beautiful, simple, appropriately conservative for the role you will play, but still say, I’m a fashionable lady and can have a good time.

  15. This sounds like a silly question, but I know it varies from state to state …has everything been checked out and the state in which she is marrying does not require a licensed minister or judge to do the ceremony/sign the license? Some states require that and some don’t…..
    You want to look good in the pictures, of course, but the truth is the officiant is kind of the backdrop in wedding photos. If the officiant were a male pastor, he would be in a suit or clerical robes; a female pastor would also likely be in clerical robes, but for a female lay officiant…I’d still recommend conservative dressing.
    In the last post you said ‘fall’, so I’m assuming that means later in September, so I think you’d definitely want sleeves or perhaps a jacket of some sort over a sleeveless dress. A jacket would have a more authoritative cache’ to it; you set it aside at the reception after your duty has been dispatched. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Personally, I like the suggestion of plum…dark enough to look serious, but not so uniform as gray or navy. I’d be careful with the use of lace…as several have pointed out, a lace dress is rather bridely and you definitely do not want to look at all bridely.

    But, you’ve got a lot of good suggestions running the style gamut; something will click as you read them and you’ll be on your way. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I’ve checked with a few lawyer friends and in Maryland you don’t have to have a license, etc. For extra measure, maybe I’ll get ordained or certified online. Both the bride and groom just have to agree that I am the clergy of record ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It’s actually in early September, so late summer ๐Ÿ™‚ In my mind (before I was the officiant) I thought it was in October, LOL!

  16. The red lace dress reminds me of the very popular 2-2009 124 that was done in lace in the magazine, if I remember correctly. I like the suggestion of deep purple or plum for the lace and the lining a hint lighter to show off the lace. Congratulations on being asked! What fun!

    • I think this is the exact pattern that Trena originally recommended and emailed me! I really like the red lace style best of all. I was thinking I could stop the lace at the high waist seam so it wouldn’t be too much.

      • That is a great idea and then you could really splurge in a great piece of lace without breaking the bank ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. I’d ask the bride for the color to wear while officiating. Some brides would be very particular about that and might assume you would were black without questioning it. Other than that I think you’ll make the right choice.

    • She just could not have cared less. It was kind of funny! She was fine with pastel blue. But, after reading all the comments I’m backing away from that thought.

  18. I think you would look great in lavender since you looked so wonderful in that gray ball gown. It would blend with the colors in the wedding party and not pop, but it would be very flattering to you. You know what styles suit you, so I won’t make any suggestions there. I vote for lavender.

  19. I wonder if you could wear a clergy type “stole” to distinguish you as the officiant, if you and the bride are comfortable with that. I’ve seen ministers of both sexes wear them. It would be easy to make, and could complement the bridal party colors. ย I like the idea of a navy suit also, or a blue-gray color. But fun for the reception – definitely!

    • Oooooh, yes, a stole is a wonderful indea! You could ask the bride for a bit of fabric from the bridal party’s dresses (surely someone has to cut off a bit for hemming, if they aren’t custom made) and incorporate it into the stole, to REALLY coordinate things in photos. Stoles that our praise band wears in church are simply narrow rectangles, made like a belt or sash.

    • I think, no. He’s Jewish and she’s Christian so I think they want no religious affiliation or overtones at all. I’m totally digging the blue-grey ideas!

  20. I like the color of the first dress for you. It’s not navy, and the blue would work well for you and still go with the bridal party. Three quarter sleeves are a good choice. I also like that the first dress is not all lace which I find somewhat fussy and maybe distracting in your role as clergy. It really is a great honor and I am sure that you will fulfill it admirably.
    The peplum dress is fun and perfect for you in a lovely jewel tone.

  21. I wonder if you could look at some photos of weddings somewhere on the interwebs, that include the officiant.

    I think I tend to agree with those who are saying, don’t wear lace or anything showy, in part because you want the bride to shine. If it were me choosing my outfit, I’d be thinking of the role more than my own fashion sense. Not that one has to look dowdy, but one might want to look Appropriate to the Role (and when we participate in cultural rites, we each have our specific role to play, in my opinion).

    When I’ve seen women officiants at non-religious ceremonies, they’ve often been in pantsuits/slacks, and that has seemed a good way to set oneself apart as the Authority Figure at the wedding, who is dressed more for work than play or celebration. This translates particularly to the photos, where we continue to see and reinterpret the event over the years. I’d rather have people look at the photos with me in it and say “yes, that’s the woman who married them” as opposed to “hunh, who’s that woman in the photo?”

    That being said, I am sure I’ll see photos from the event on your blog and you will look fantastic because you have a great sense of these things and no small appreciation for pageantry!

    • Oh! The pantsuit is a fantastic idea! I’d never been to a wedding without a priest, so I didn’t even think about that.

    • I’m so torn because I still kind of feel like a guest and not a straight up officiant! That being said, I do like the idea of wearing a dress with jacket and super tailored. And, I found myself nodding at “no small appreciation for pageantry!” YES! Totally me.

      • Yes, I agree you have to keep the role firmly in mind, and not just the guest part. But maybe you can distinguish them sartorially? I mean wear something conservative and judge-like for the ceremony, then substitute something dressier and flashier for the reception? The best of both worlds, and clearly distinguishing your official-you from the friend persona?

        I was wondering about something else.. you’ve been talking recently about work style, and needing perhaps to get more “business-like” kind of clothes. It seems to me that it’d be a perfect opportunity, and quite easy in this case, to design something, either a suit or a dress-and-jacket combo, which would be very appropriate for the wedding and segue easily into the business situations that have been gnawing at you. How about a sharp grey suit with a lavender silk shell? Then you can practice your day-into-evening business thing by removing the jacket and replacing it with a silver lace bolero or something? You would have the versatile wedding outfit you need as well as the basis for the more serious work wardrobe you were contemplating.

  22. Here’s my two cents for what little it’s worth. I would stick with a near black color–wine, plum, navy, dark teal, charcoal, etc. (Obviously, I’m biased towards either the dark teal or the charcoal, but you may not be as enamored of those colors as I am.) ๐Ÿ˜‰ I would stick with a simple sheath or shift dress for the ceremony, preferably with 3/4 sleeves. I would avoid the lace if you don’t want to look like the wedding party lost one of it’s sheep. It actually seems like you had made a dark grey shift dress a couple of years ago–if you still have it, (and it seems appropriate) that would make it one less thing to sew up before the wedding (even though you have time, it always seems to slip away before you know it.) If in doubt, ask the bride! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I would say that you could make whatever you wanted to wear to the reception. I like both the peplum dress and the lace dresses, so I can’t help you much there. The peplum one looks more fun, but it also might be irritating as the night wears on, especially if yours is as stiff as the one in the picture.

    Sorry about the novel, hope something in there helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Man. I love charcoal and gray. Just not straight black. I am leaning to sleeves of some sort. But, I think I will do a *little* lace. Just a touch! I’m so glad you guys pointed out the peplum. I didn’t really think about how it would crush during the night, etc.

      • I really like the first Kate (blue dress with a touch of lace at the top). I can see that style worn by an officiant. I know that you said they want to avoid anything like a stole that looks religiousy, but what about a scarf or shawl to cover the lace if it looks to showy? You could complimentary, contrast, or tone on tone and then remove the piece for reception lacy delight.

        And that Mila Kunis dress? have you seen the profile shots? Because it looks like there is a MST of excess fabric in the back that looks like she could animate the dress with flatulence.

  23. My cousin asked me to officiate her wedding a couple of years ago, so I got ordained online and have since done several other weddings. For my cousin’s wedding (and at least one other) I wore a grey jacket and pencil skirt over a black peasant blouse. I think it looked professional (many male officiants just wear a nice suit, so that works for us ladies, too. there’s a pic here: ). For another I just wore a nice dress shirt and grey slacks. My friend’s sister officiated our wedding and she wore a black/white print dress and that was nice (a not-so-great pic here: ).

    I think you have a few keys here to remember: 1) As with any wedding you attend, upstaging the bride is a big no-no, so keep in mind what she is going to wear. 2) Keep away from the wedding party’s colors but don’t clash with them. 3) Look professional. As much as you are “a part of” your friend’s special day, as the officiant you are there to do a very important task for your friend, not just enjoy the wedding as a guest. 4) If you’re still unsure, run it past the bride. A simple “is this ok?” could alleviate a lot of stress for the both of you.

    Hope this helps!

  24. I’m surprised to learn about officiants without licenses/ordainment (sp?) but very proud of you. I like all the color ideas you got. Love the peplum but would you consider a removable peplum? If you shave to sit to eat, wouldn’t it be crushed?

      • “…Captain of the Love Boat?” oooh that one! And you can make a really cool Navy uniform like dress or something. Picture it: White halter dress with the collar and Navy piping with a navy double breasted bolero jacket…

  25. I have to say you would look great in lots of colors but for this purpose I would vote for the plum or greyed purple. The 1st photo of The Duchess would be great for you and later you could remove the lace and get wear from the garment. Whatever though you will look terrific!
    New Zealand

  26. I love the idea of a lace dress. That last picture is a lovely one. I also like the idea of plum or purple, but I must say my eyes widened at the thought of medium steel blue, as suggested by Carolyn. It’s not a colour I would normally think of, but with the other colours in the wedding party you would look lovely without taking the light away from anyone and without clashing. I think it’s a colour that would really suit you, too.

  27. I like the above mentioned steel blue-I’m not sure navy will do much for you, but a medium-darkish cool shade of blue will look quite striking on you.

    What an honor you have been given!

  28. Ooooh, I like C 13 but 12 F is good as well! Something in that range of color depth and saturation, either blue or gray.

  29. An early poster was right – you will get lots of advice! but bear with me.
    I see you in a strapless knee length sheath — with a lace jacket that has a deep V neckline, bracelet length sleeves and a peplum, tied at the waist with a ribbon closure.
    Subtle but still with va va voom factor.

  30. VERY simple. Unfortunately, religious or not, I would keep the va va va voom to a minimum. Not really the moment to be a fashion plate, in my opinion – but I would certainly do a deep color (good for photos), well fitted, and pretty!

  31. I love the Duchess of Cambridge inspiration because it is, for the most part, modest and feminine. Instead of one of the wedding colors, which don’t you consider a complimentary color like purple?

    Bottom line: I think Simple, Elegant and Feminine is the way to go. You can be memorable and still let the Bride be the star.

  32. Congratulations on being selected to officiate your friends’ wedding! I hope she reads your blog to see just how important this task she’s bestowed on you actually is! I’m sure it will confirm her reasons for selecting you in the first place! Anything you make (and you have some great thoughts right now) will be outstanding!! Good Luck and get many photos to show us!

  33. As a member of the clergy I wear my clergy attire, usually, and outside the church building that means a clerical collar blouse with a simple suit in a colour flattering to me, but in a tone that says”business”, not “party”, and not “wedding party”. This is helpful in many ways, one of which is authority — I can’t tell you how many Aunts/Uncles/ Friends have tried to tell me how to do my job, as I set forth to manage the rehearsal, and then the wedding. A little “business” message in the attire can go a long way. It also adds a bit of solemnity to the ceremony.

    If i am attending the reception, I change into something fun.

    Enjoy the planning and the occasion!

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