Guide to Having a Friend Officiate Your Wedding

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Get­ting a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber to offi­ci­ate wed­dings has proved to be a grow­ing trend in the last few years. Not only is a great way to incor­po­rate some­one close to you, but it cre­ates a deeply inti­mate set­ting. An offi­ciant who you haven’t known for years will only have a few meet­ings to get to know you and your fiancé, but a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber knows you indi­vid­u­al­ly and as a cou­ple inside and out.

For those of you plan­ning on ask­ing a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber, who isn’t already ordained, to offi­ci­ate your wed­ding, here is every­thing you need to know.

Laws

Before decid­ing any­thing, you have to first do your research. Dif­fer­ent cities and states have dif­fer­ent laws in regards to mar­riage. For exam­ple, some states require your offi­ciant to let the local court know, and may even have to go to the coun­ty clerk’s office in per­son. Make sure you iron out every detail need­ed to get mar­ried in your loca­tion before con­tin­u­ing with this plan. If you’re not sure, try googling mar­riage laws in your state or call­ing your local coun­ty clerk’s office. 

Bride reading vows and groom in blue suit with officiant

Choosing an Officiant

Hav­ing some­one who already knows you can make your wed­ding extra spe­cial, but it’s also a big deci­sion. You also want to make sure you trust this per­son com­plete­ly, as there are sev­er­al impor­tant details that rest on their shoul­ders. Also, when you ask your cho­sen per­son, make sure you aren’t push­ing them into some­thing they are uncom­fort­able with. It must be their choice as well as yours. 

Some good things to keep in mind (but not required) when choos­ing a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber to per­form your cer­e­mo­ny are: 

  • Do they know both of you well and under­stand your rela­tion­ship?
  • Can they speak well in front of a crowd?
  • Are they com­fort­able with any reli­gious aspects you may want for your cer­e­mo­ny?
  • Are they com­fort­able writ­ing their part of the cer­e­mo­ny?
Wedding with bride and bridesmaids and groom in a black tuxedo and groomsmen and guests

Responsibilities

Before the cer­e­mo­ny, your friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber needs to get ordained, so they can legal­ly mar­ry you. There are many places online to get this done quick and easy. Just work togeth­er to find the best option for you and make sure there is enough time between this and your wed­ding in case some­thing goes wrong. One of the most pop­u­lar options is the Uni­ver­sal Life Church.

Dur­ing the wed­ding, of course, it is on them to per­form the cer­e­mo­ny and get the mar­riage license signed (cou­ple, offi­ciant, and two wit­ness­es). See below for more details about the cer­e­mo­ny.

After the cer­e­mo­ny, it is gen­er­al­ly up to the offi­ciant to make sure the signed license gets sent to the state or coun­ty clerk’s office with­in the cor­rect amount of time.

Bride and groom in blue suit and groomsmen with officiant at wedding

Ceremony

With plen­ty of time before the wed­ding, make sure to dis­cuss attire with your offi­ciant and work with your offi­ciant to write out the words for your cer­e­mo­ny to ensure they have plen­ty of time to prac­tice. For the most part, what’s includ­ed in the cer­e­mo­ny (writ­ten or tra­di­tion­al vows, read­ings and spe­cial music, etc.) is up to you, but make sure to check your local laws. Some areas require cer­tain words to be said dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny.

The rehearsal din­ner is there for a rea­son. Make sure to go through all the details with your offi­ciant. Since this may be their first wed­ding, it won’t be quite as easy to make sure every­thing runs smooth­ly the day of.

Here is what an overview of what a wed­ding cer­e­mo­ny might include:

  • Wel­come: The offi­ciant wel­comes guests and thanks them for com­ing 
  • Read­ings: Friends or fam­i­ly mem­bers recite one or two spe­cial read­ings or per­form a spe­cial song
  • Vows: Either by repeat­ing tra­di­tion­al vows after the offi­ciant or recit­ing your own writ­ten vows
  • The exchange of rings and bless­ing
  • Con­clu­sion and pro­nounce­ment: The offi­ciant declares the cou­ple mar­ried and has them kiss. Announces them as hus­band and wife.

No mat­ter who you get to offi­ci­ate your wed­ding you want to make sure they real­ly under­stand you, your fiancé, and how you want your cer­e­mo­ny to go. It’s impor­tant to feel com­fort­able with this wed­ding VIP. 

Fea­tured image by Kay Kroshus

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