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Having a Friend or Family Member Officiate Your Wedding

Friends celebrating after being asked to officiate wedding

A wedding is one of those unique occasions in life that allows you to bring all your friends and family together in one place to celebrate. And when it comes to the ceremony itself, you probably have some ideas for how to involve those closest to you – whether that means asking friends to be part of the wedding party, having Dad walk you down the aisle, or appointing your baby cousin to be the ring bearer.

But increasingly, another crucial role is being filled by friends and family members: that of wedding officiant. As wedding traditions have evolved, more and more couples are choosing to personalize their ceremonies by having a loved one carry out this important duty. What’s behind this shift?

Asking a friend to officiate your wedding adds an extra layer of meaning to the occasion, creating a wonderful memory for you to treasure together. Plus, for a lot of couples, it just makes sense – especially if you’re not religious or don’t have a close relationship with a church leader. After all, who better to preside over your wedding than someone who knows you and your partner intimately and can share in the joy of the moment?

Before we go in depth about how to choose a wedding officiant, let’s quickly cover how to become qualified to perform weddings.

How to Have a Friend Officiate Your Wedding

This part is actually really simple – a lot simpler than many people imagine. After you’ve “popped the question” and they’ve agreed to serve as officiant on the big day, have your friend or family member fill out an ordination application here on our site. Once their application is received, they’ll get an email confirming their status as a legal wedding officiant.

One quick note here: in some states, simply being ordained with the ULC is enough to start performing weddings. However, the rules vary from place to place, and official documentation may be required before stepping up to the altar. To find out what documents are required in your area, please consult our marriage laws map.

So that part is fairly straightforward. If anything, the hardest part is picking the right person to do the job. Here are a few things to consider when asking a friend to officiate your wedding.

Do Your Views Align?

No matter how solid your relationship, there’s no guarantee your best friend is the best person to officiate your wedding. Performing a wedding requires good communication between the couple and the officiant, and it’s important that you see eye-to-eye. If you want a casual, laid-back affair, an officiant who insists on stiff formality can affect the mood. Likewise, choosing someone with strong religious views that you don’t share probably isn’t a great choice. Even if you believe your friend or relative will make a good-faith effort to do things your way, think carefully before making that commitment.

Is Your Friend Comfortable Speaking in Public?

If your closest friend or family member suffers from stage fright or would just prefer not to get up in front of a crowd and speak, asking them to be the officiant – essentially the ceremony emcee – doesn’t make much sense. Instead, consider asking him or her to take on a different, nonspeaking role. Both you and your friend will enjoy the ceremony much more without the added stress of an officiant who is unprepared for the task.

Will They Take the Job Seriously?

It’s also important to choose someone who understands you and the type of ceremony you envision. For example, let’s say your friend is a great speaker and has an awesome sense of humor. You’re not opposed to having a few jokes sprinkled in, but you also want the ceremony to be sincere and meaningful. If that person doesn’t view the marriage with the same importance you do, perhaps they’re not the right person to choose.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Now that you've figured out whom you want as your officiant, make sure to ask them far in advance of the wedding. Your ideal candidate may feel unsure and want some time to think about it. They may even agree initially but later realize they aren’t comfortable with this role. In any event, you don't want to be scrambling to find an officiant the day before the wedding.

Do be prepared to accept a refusal graciously. Hopefully, you asked this person to officiate because you have a strong connection with them. Don’t take a “no” personally – as we discussed earlier, not everyone is cut out for this job.

How to Prepare for a Wedding

Ordained minister officiating wedding for friends

Once your friend or relative accepts the role of officiant, she or he will have some preparation ahead. You’ll likely be busy planning other parts of the big day, but there are still ways you can help.

First, be clear about the type of ceremony you envision. Discuss your needs and priorities upfront to give your officiant a solid idea of what to aim for. Encourage them to start writing the script as soon as possible to make sure there is time for revisions, should they be necessary.

And don’t forget to point your friend or family member to the resources provided here on our site. Whether they need to order wedding supplies, want to know how marriage licenses work, or require some help writing a wedding script, we’ve got it all covered. One thing’s for sure: with this important person standing up there by your side, it’ll be a moment you’ll never forget.

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