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Should My Officiant Be Family or a Friend?

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2/22/21

Hiring anyone you know to be a vendor at your wedding comes with pros and cons. If you don’t want to find yourself reminding your partner’s best friend to “get ordained already!”, let’s talk through the ups and downs.

Let’s Get Memorable

Many couples elect to have a close friend or relative marry them because it truly adds that personal touch. They know you as a pair and better than most clergy or celebrants will. It’s also a great chance to ask someone close to you that isn’t in your wedding party to be a special part of the big day.

Think there’s a chance the person you want to marry you will get terrible stage fright or will feel too much pressure to make everything perfect? Then maybe hiring a pro is the way to go. Your friend may be more interested in just enjoying your day as a guest. And remember that people suffering from nerves in front of a crowd tend to make their speech about them – and you DON’T want that on your wedding day. Or, that gregarious, attention-thriving friend may just steal the show.

Show Me the Money

Not hiring a professional in this area of your wedding can seem like a great way to save a few dollars. Your friend or family member can get ordained online and you just need to shell out for a thank you gift! Sounds ideal, right? Well, there are a few issues here and they all have to do with the legality of your marriage. Does your venue (especially if it’s faith-based) allow a friend to marry you? Does your state recognize online ordainment for a legal ceremony? All of these are things to consider before making your officiant decision.

Weddings are complicated. There’s no doubt about that. Unless your close friend or family member has performed a few weddings before, do you really want to be their guinea pig? If your friend is a first-timer, it’s very unlikely that they’ve dealt with your county or state court system and know how to properly (and in a timely fashion) file your marriage license. If this crucial step gets messed up, you will find yourself having to head to court to pay an additional filing fee.

Peter Roehrich, a wedding officiant in Maryland and Washington, DC and owner of Vibrant Ceremonies shares this perspective about working with a professional officiant on your wedding day. “Inviting a friend or family member to officiate your wedding is a generous gesture and can add a lot of intimacy to the celebration. In deciding to invite a loved one to officiate your ceremony, consider whether a friend or family member is reliable, confident, and will be able to mirror your personalities in delivering the ceremony. Also, be certain that your loved one knows what to do to record your marriage with the court, as you probably won’t want to worry about this on your honeymoon.”


Peter Roehrich performs a wedding ceremony.

Peter Roehrich performs a wedding ceremony.

Planning Can Be Stressful Enough

While the personalized ceremony may be worth it to you, just remember that not having a pro doing your ceremony means you’re in charge of it. You’ll have to write out a script and completely plan the ceremony yourself, which can certainly add to an already stressful situation.

Peter continues, “A professional officiant also brings a lot of support to the process. I always offer to help my couples write their vows by aiding them in overcoming writer’s block and helping both partners reach the same tone in their vows. I have readings, poems, and prayers to suggest to couples, as well, so that the ceremony truly speaks to their personalities.”

Don’t wait too long to decide on who will marry you and definitely don’t take that decision lightly!

Additional research and insights provided by Taylored Vows.

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I’m an event logistics guru and wedding designer based in Washington, D.C. I’m also a wife and mama to a fiercely independent toddler and two fluffy terriers. Settle in as we share our team’s latest love stories, behind-the-scenes adventures and top-notch wedding planning advice.

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Dantus & Co. Events specializes in wedding planning & design in the greater Washington, D.C. area and beyond. Our couples are busy professionals who love details, want to incorporate several cultures or religions into their big day, and need a wedding planner who gets it to help.