Unique WeddingsWedding trends and traditions are always changing; with the old constantly making way for the new. Currently, one of the most popular wedding trends is to have a friend officiate at your wedding ceremony.

Having a close friend or family member conduct your wedding ceremony is a wonderful way to make the wedding service more personal and intimate. However, when friends officiate at wedding ceremonies there are some important things you both need to know; not only to ensure that the ceremony goes smoothly, but to make sure everything is legal and by the board.

So, if you’re thinking of having a friend officiate at your wedding ceremony, here’s what you need to know.

Make Sure It’s Legal

Marriage laws vary according to state, as well as local municipalities. If you are considering having a friend officiate at your wedding, you’re going to have to do a little research first.

When researching the legalities of having a lay-officiant, make sure the resources you reference are government certified. Don’t simply rely on blogs or word of mouth. Check with your local registrar or clerk of courts to see what is required for a layperson to solemnize your marriage.

While some states may recognize an internet ordained minister, others will require that your officiant register with the county and apply for a one day solemnization grant. Due diligence here is critical, because when all is said and done you want your marriage to be legal.

Consider Some Alternatives

In some states it is difficult for a lay-officiant to legally solemnize a marriage, so you may have to consider a few alternatives. You might want to get married at city hall a few days prior to your planned wedding ceremony, thereby keeping everything legal and tidy.

You might also consider having a Justice of the Peace witness your wedding and legally marry you just before, or after, your lay-officiant’s ceremony. Either way, make sure you apply for your marriage license in a timely manner, and be certain that all of the legal niceties have been observed.

Choosing a Friend Officiant

Officiating at a friend’s wedding is a great honor, but it is also a huge responsibility. When choosing a lay-officiant, there are a few things you must consider to ensure that everyone gets the most from the experience.

  • Are They a Good Fit – First and foremost, it is important to be sure your choice is a good fit. Just because he or she is your oldest and dearest friend doesn’t mean they’ll make a great wedding officiant. You want someone reliable, who is comfortable speaking in public.
  • Have a Back Up – When choosing a lay-officiant, it is important to have a back up plan. Your first choice of officiant may be unable to perform the ceremony, so you need to have alternates in mind before you start asking friends to officiate at your wedding service.
  • Don’t Force the Issue – Some people are simply not comfortable being a wedding officiant. As much as they love you both, they are terrified by the thought of standing in front of a room full of friends and family and performing a wedding ceremony. Don’t force the issue. If your first choice of officiant declines, move to on of your alternates.

Writing The Ceremony

Once you have decided on an officiant, you will need to decide who will create the ceremony. You may choose to design and write the ceremony yourselves, or you may put your lay-officiant in charge. If you put your friend in charge, be sure to keep a hand in the proceedings and vet the final ceremony. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises on the big day. Also, you will want to work closely with your wedding officiant as they rehearse their role.

Day Of Preparations

With your wedding officiant in place, and the ceremony and service schedule finalized, you will need to attend to some final preparations.

  • The Script – Your wedding officiant will need a script to follow, and this should be written out in large type with plenty of line breaks so it is easy to read and follow. Place the script in an attractive binder. If you’re wedding officiant is a techy, they might find it easier to read their script from a table or iPad. This too should be in an attractive case.
  • Wedding Vows – You may have memorized your wedding vows, but it’s always smart to have a backup. Print out your wedding vows on cards, and have your wedding officiant store them with their own script. When the time comes, they can hand you your vows.
  • Your Marriage License – Be sure to bring this with you on the day of your wedding, and that it is properly signed and witnessed.

Having a friend officiate at your wedding can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved. But it does require a bit of extra work and planning on your part. As with all of your wedding plans, start early and allow yourselves plenty of time to explore all the options, and make changes where necessary. Once your wedding officiant and ceremony are in place, simply relax and enjoy the day.

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