Having a friend officiate your wedding puts a beautiful, personal touch on your big day. Choosing someone who knows you both well and can represent your love in a thoughtful way makes for an unforgettable ceremony. It takes some advance planning and a confident friend to make the process go smoothly though, so be sure you’ve prepared well in advance. Follow these steps for a perfect wedding ceremony.
1. Consider your friends and choose your officiant wisely.
Asking a friend to preside over your nuptials is a big decision, and you want to choose someone who is not only enthusiastic about the job, but will also execute it gracefully. Consider your friends and choose someone who is confident, well-spoken and who knows you well. Select a back-up friend in case your first choice is unable to officiate your wedding.
2. Help your friend get ordained.
There are many organizations that ordain ministers online. The most commonly used are the Universal Life Church, the American Fellowship Church and Universal Ministries. In some states, counties will deputize a day-of officiant, meaning your friend won’t have to go through online ordination. Additionally, there are states where members of the Bar Association and notaries public can perform legal wedding ceremonies. Check with your county clerk’s office to find out the best option for you.
3. Fulfill the ordination requirements of your city or town.
Where you live, an online ordination may be enough to convert your friend into a legal officiant. However, many counties require ordained ministers to file paperwork with a local office. Call your county clerk and find out the requirements in your city or town long before your wedding date.
5. Draft your wedding ceremony.
Now the fun part: drafting your wedding ceremony. A typical wedding ceremony includes opening remarks, readings, a declaration of intent (i.e. “Do you…do you…I do”), vows, ring exchange and pronouncement. It is up to you and your officiant to decide what goes into your wedding ceremony, and how much of it you want to personalize. Sit down with your friend and go over all of your options, and share the types of readings/language you do and don’t want to include in the ceremony. You can be very involved in the writing process or let your officiant take the lead. Once you’ve finalized the ceremony, your officiant should practice, practice, practice.
6. Stash the ceremony in a nice binder or folder.
Your officiant will be holding his or her speech on your wedding day, so it should be stored in a nice binder or folder. If you’ve written your own vows, write them on index cards and ask your officiant to store them in the wedding binder until it’s time for them to be read. Your officiant may also want to keep tissues or hankies on hand for happy tears at the altar!
7. Ensure that your marriage license gets filed.
Once you’ve been pronounced married, you’ll need to file your marriage license with the county clerk’s office. This is usually done by the officiant, so check with your friend and your local registrar to confirm exactly what needs to be done to get your marriage on the books.