• KatePaulyne Tayco

6 Things You Need to Know Before Asking Your Friend to Officiate Your Wedding

Updated: Aug 18, 2020


Priest officiating wedding while bride and groom exchanging wedding rings

Having a friend or a family member officiate your wedding is a great cost-saving alternative to personalize your wedding. While opting for a civil wedding officiant can assure you of a professionalized wedding ceremony, asking a friend to perform your wedding allows you to feel more comfortable. And it can also make your ceremony more intimate.

Your friend-turned-officiant could also share unforgettable memories of your relationship, unlike a random civil wedding officiant. Here are some ways to walk you through before asking a loved one to officiate your wedding ceremony.

IS IT LEGAL FOR A FRIEND TO OFFICIATE YOUR WEDDING?

Before asking a friend to officiate your wedding, have intensive research on whether it is legal in your place for a non-civil wedding officiant to perform your ceremony. Head to your city hall and ask your city clerk to confirm the legalities of having a friend to officiate your wedding.

While some states may allow a non-civil wedding officiant to lead your wedding ceremony, others may not. In Alaska, your friend or a family member can perform your wedding ceremony if they have a marriage commissioner appointment. While in Oregon, only Judges, County Clerks, or their Deputies, Justices of Peace, and ministers, pastors, priests, rabbis may perform wedding ceremonies. You can read the list of recognized marriage license officiants from state to state here.

Once you have confirmed the legalities of your friend officiating your wedding, you can check the internet for the process of how your friends will get ordained online or you can ask the state clerk to guide you through.


Groom smiling next to bride ( back view) and the wedding officiant (hands)

HOW CAN A LOVED ONE OFFICIATE YOUR WEDDING?

Luckily, if your friend is an experienced wedding officiant, you can already skip the process of getting ordained and registered. However, if it is the first time for your friend to officiate a wedding, then, he has to be ordained before he could officially perform your ceremony.

An easy way to get ordained is to check about online ordination offered by an online church community like Universal Life Church Monastery. While some religious organizations like the American Fellowship Church ask their applicants to sign a statement of beliefs and code of ethics before getting ordained. Also, don't forget to double-check if getting ordained by your chosen ordaining organization is legally recognized by your state.

Remember that each state has different laws to follow, some may require you to have your friend to also register in the state court as your wedding officiant, but others may not. Once more, check to your state clerk the process of how your friend could LEGALLY officiate your wedding.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MAKE YOUR FRIEND AS YOUR WEDDING OFFICIANT?

Having your friend to officiate your wedding could save you a one-person budget! However, you might want to consider paying for your friend’s certification for getting ordained. Check the validity of the certificate that you get, some documents may last for life, but few hold a particular timeline. Usually, friends perform wedding ceremonies for free, but you can also ask your friend whether he will charge you for a small amount. Either of the two is a cost-effective option rather than hiring a wedding officiant.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR WEDDING OFFICIANT?

Make sure that your friend or loved one completely understands his responsibilities as a wedding officiant. Be assured that your officiant knows what to do and how not to turn your wedding celebration into a reunion or high school retreat. Even though it is more personal to have your friend to officiate your wedding, make sure that they won’t get carried away!

Write the ceremony script with your friend-turned-officiant, and practice with them several times before your dress rehearsal or actual wedding. Rehearsing lessens your friend’s anxiety and you can also guarantee that your friend is taking your request seriously!

Bonus Tip: In choosing a loved one to officiate your wedding, make sure that they have a lot of time for rehearsal!

WHAT SHOULD YOUR OFFICIANT WEAR?

Most likely, you don’t want your wedding officiant to look either overdressed or underdressed compared to your other wedding guests! Your friend is not required to look exactly like a wedding officiant, but make sure that he wears decent clothes for his role. Don’t forget that he plays the third most important role next to the bride and groom, which is you and your partner!


Wedding officiant signing marriage license

CAN YOUR OFFICIANT SIGN YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE?


After performing your wedding ceremony, your friend-turned-officiant still has some things to get done. It is your friend’s responsibility to send the completely-signed marriage license to the state clerk. Each state has its time frame of how soon you should return your marriage license to them, so don’t forget to ask your state clerk (for the last time!).