A friend is officiating your wedding

I love it! What a beautiful idea. All he has to do is write away for an ordination certification and then register with the appropriate state agency. It makes total sense. He knows you. He loves both of you. He has some hilarious stories to share. Should work out well.

Until it doesn’t.

Speaking in front of a group – even one you know – is enough to make a nervous wreck out of most people. Couple that with the requirement to manage the logistics and write eloquently, and you could be headed for something that is less than you dreamed of.

It’s not uncommon for amateurs to simple “wing it” when they get up there, and end up talking mainly about themselves, or nervously trying to manage the microphone, the rings, and their papers. Some marriages end up invalidated because the officiating friend failed to register properly.

Here’s what one bride shared recently on an online forum:

“The ceremony was a disaster. She read the original transcript, she said the sentences wrong, she missed words, she repeated stuff she had already said. She even stopped at the end and asked my husband his last name…Fast-forward again to the next day, my husband looks at our marriage license, and she had put her notary stamp on the wrong place… when we went to take it to court they didn’t accept it, they made us buy a NEW LICENSE, they told us that we needed the same witnesses to use the date of the wedding otherwise we had to change the date.”

The New York Times recently published a story about the issues facing officiants. There are many views on this subject. But I say –

Think about what could happen before you ask a friend to take on this important duty.

Professionals are trained to do this work. They are experienced, in the same way that your wedding photographer or DJ is. Here’s some sage advice from the International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants:

“The number one reason to hire a professional officiant is experience. The more experience someone has at performing wedding ceremonies, the better equipped they are to deliver a high-quality performance in the midst of an unpredictable, unscripted environment. Performing a wedding ceremony isn’t as simple as just reading a piece of paper, and many amateurs get thrown off by the near-constant distraction of mumbling guests, crying children, flying bugs, moving vendors, and the like. A professional officiant has a level of comfort that comes only from experience and can maintain a state of calm and focus despite changing or unforeseen circumstances. This leads to a better experience for you, your families, and your guests – you can relax and enjoy your ceremony, knowing you’re in the capable hands of someone who knows exactly what to do.”

Think about it: You hired a photographer and someone to make your food. Shouldn’t you make sure your ceremony is just as expertly handled?

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