Spring is here, and for a lot of people that means it’s time to think about weddings! If you’re doing research to plan your own wedding, or you just enjoy reading about them, you’ll likely come across post-after-post touting the benefits of having a friend officiate your wedding.
This is not one of those posts.
Don’t get me wrong. I can see how the idea of having a friend officiate your wedding certainly has its appeal. After all, your friend knows you, right? And who better to celebrate your love for each other than someone who knows you?
But while your friend may be an expert on you, odds are they aren’t an expert in officiating weddings. A wedding ceremony is a mix of writing, creativity, and stagecraft. Sometimes it’s an exercise in diplomacy. And it’s almost always a legal action that has to be carried out correctly and by someone who is authorized to do so.
But you’re biased. You get paid to perform wedding ceremonies.
It’s true. I do.
But the reason I became a Life-Cycle Celebrant in the first place was because of my experience planning my own wedding. We weren’t members of a church. We didn’t want to temporarily join one just to get married. And with a large number of guests traveling from all over to attend our wedding, a courthouse ceremony wasn’t going to work for us.
What we really wanted, was a very personal ceremony that reflected how we looked at life and how we were going to define and build our marriage.
We lucked out. Someone pointed us to Life-Cycle Celebrants—trained professionals whose sole purpose is to create custom ceremonies that meet the wishes of the couple, individual, or family being served. Our experience was an eye opener and led to me getting trained as a Life-Cycle Celebrant myself.
What about the personal touch? My friend KNOWS us.
The one thing I’m asked consistently after ceremonies is how long I’ve known the couple.
When you have a friend officiate your wedding, that friend may know your love story, but it’s from their own perspective.
I’m trained to get to know your love story from your perspectives—both of yours. I have the skills to craft your ceremony around your beliefs and experiences. Sometimes couples even entrust me with particulars they don’t want to share in detail in their ceremony but want to acknowledge them in some private way. In these situations, I have the experience to work symbols and metaphors into the ceremony so that those things can be included meaningfully, yet discreetly.
My friend has been in lots of weddings. How hard can it be?
Being in a wedding as a member of the wedding party or even the one getting married usually doesn’t involve creating the whole ceremony.
Creating a great wedding ceremony is a balancing act, starting with the two of you. What would your friend do if one of you wants to read their vows and the other just wants to say “I do”? What if you two have different opinions about readings? Or if you two come from different religious or cultural backgrounds? Will it seem like your friend is taking sides if they include one thing over another? I’ve learned to deal with these situations as a neutral party.
What if the two of you hold different beliefs from your families or from your surrounding community, but don’t want anyone to feel left out? Will your friend know how to shine a light on what you have in common? My training and experience helps me do just that.
Also, as the wedding officiant, your friend may actually feel less included in your wedding as a whole. I’ve heard this from many friends, non-professionals, who officiated weddings for people they know. In the grand scheme of things, come wedding day, they felt left out. Sometimes it’s because guests and staff assume that they’re a hired vendor. And sometimes it’s because they’ve invested so much in your ceremony that it’s hard to step back and just be a guest once it’s over. As a professional working for you, I don’t have those concerns.
Well, my friend has performed weddings for other friends. So, they’re experienced.
The very first wedding I performed was for a couple whose friend realized, at the last minute, that they couldn’t legally solemnize the marriage. They had to scramble to find a replacement.
Since then, I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve performed over the years, and on short notice, because a friend of the couple had to back out. Some were in over their heads creating the ceremony. Some realized late in the game that they weren’t able to officiate and have it be a legal marriage.
One difference between having a friend officiate your wedding and having a professional, like me, do it, is that with me, there’s a contract. There are set expectations between us and it’s my job to make sure your married and happy with your ceremony.
Well, now we don’t want to disappoint our friend. What do we do?
There are so many ways to include friends and family in your wedding ceremony. They can lead a ritual like a handfasting or sand ceremony. They can read something written just for you or create something that you’ll use in your ceremony like the wedding canopy or altar piece.
I can help you figure it out. Let’s talk about your ceremony today!Contact Cris
Still want your friend to officiate your wedding?
Consider my ceremony writing service. I can write your ceremony, complete with cues and stage directions, and even provide cue sheet for your photographer and music provider.