6 Things to Consider When Thinking of Having a Friend Officiate Your Wedding
1. Your comfort level – An experienced Officiant will be comfortable and at ease with the ceremony process and that comfort level will help you feel more relaxed. You can be rest assured that they will know what they are doing and guide you through your parts. I’ve watched too many friends get selected for their exuberance and comedic value, but if they are new to an Officiating role, even the most seasoned public speakers will be as nervous and sometimes uncomfortable as you are. It’s when I see them knock back a few drinks that I cross my fingers and hope for the best for the couple!
2. Your time – Planning a wedding is a busy process and if you add the additional role of training and answering your friend’s questions on how to conduct your service, often with questions you’re not always sure how to answer, it could be an additional burden.
3. Your wedding credibility – Even as a legal Officiant, I often have family members question my validity when the ceremony is taking place outside of a church setting. I was doing ceremonies as a ‘friend’ before I became ordained and one friend’s father wouldn’t attend the wedding because ‘it wasn’t a 'real wedding’. The couple is still happily together and not legally married, but the bride was clearly hurt by her father’s poor decision not to recognize their commitment ceremony.
4. Your photos – I don’t know if any other Officiant does this, but my walk-throughs include a number of helpful tips to ensure your photographer can best capture all the key parts of the ceremony. An experienced Officiant will know when and how to discreetly step out of the way so they don’t photo bomb your kiss, or the best positioning for your ring bearer.
5. Your ceremony – If you have never planned a ceremony before and your friend hasn’t either, there are a number of ceremonial nuances to consider that a newbie may not be accustomed to. Using their voice to set the tone, which parts are legally required, what order sections should go in to keep the ceremony flowing smoothly, and how to ensure each step is communicated to your guests are just a few.
6. Your wallet – You will still need a legal Officiant to complete the paperwork aspect of the ceremony, and typically, if you are asking them to step in and do the signing part way through, the Officiant will charge the same as if they were doing the ceremony since their time is still being used. You may supersede this by eloping with two witnesses prior and simply having the ceremony at another time.