Unpopular Opinion: Don’t Have Your Friend Officiate Your Wedding
With the ability to get ordained as a minister or wedding officiant online, many couples look to cut costs by having a friend or family member officiate their wedding. I often hear couples ask someone close to them to add a special touch to their wedding day. Well, today in this opinion piece I am here to tell you why you SHOULDN’T do that from the perspective of a wedding planner who has seen it all.
There are many reasons why you shouldn’t have a friend or family member become ordained to officiate your wedding, but here are a few key reasons:
The nerves are…well, real.
I don’t care how “well spoken” you think your friend or family member is. I also don’t care if they speak publicly for a living. Unless they have experience specifically officiating weddings, your wedding day shouldn’t be the day they make their debut. Since they know you personally, there is more emotion and pressure for them. I’ve seen even the most well spoken people crack from the pressure. You don’t want the memory of your ceremony to be feeling embarrassed on behalf of your officiant. That’s not a fun experience for anyone!
Guests and vendors don’t mix.
I could make this argument for any vendor, but let’s talk about officiants. Have you ever seen a drunk officiant? I have. And spoiler alert: it was the couple’s close friend! The groomsmen approached me at the lineup with a “backup plan” to step in, in case he can’t get through the ceremony, which as the planner I told them “absolutely not, let me handle.” Thankfully the emotions of the ceremony took over, he made it through, and the couple didn’t notice he had one two many drinks that morning. Unless your officiant makes a vow to not partake in the pre-event festivities (and what’s the fun in that?) you may have a similar problem on your hands. Let your friends and family enjoy the day without added responsibility as important as officiating the primary reason you are all together in the first place!
The small logistics add up and add stress to you as the couple.
Professional vendors know the right questions to ask to ensure the execution goes smoothly. If you hire a friend, the responsibility to manage them now falls on you. For example, ensuring they are dressed appropriately, show up on time, know how to use the microphone, and more seemingly minor details can be detrimental if not properly communicated or managed.
For example…how many weddings have you been to where the officiant forgets to tell the guests to sit? Have you personally been victimized by the awkward stand-off where everyone just sort of looks around, hoping that someone else will sit first? And when people do start to sit, it’s only a few bodies at a time making for an obvious and distracting moment? Yeah, I’ve experienced several.
The big logistics can also not be underestimated.
You’ve likely never officiated a wedding before and don’t know what you don’t know. So how can you properly manage an officiant when you don’t know the first thing about being one? For example, do you know how to file a marriage license to make it official? Do you know how to write a ceremony script?
Vendor Spotlight: Sarah's Hilton Head Vows
A professional wedding officiant can walk you through the process to take the stress off you! Did you know in the state of South Carolina you can apply for your marriage license 100% online? No additional trips to city hall needed! I didn’t until I learned this trick from Sarah, an officiant and owner of Sarah’s Hilton Head Vows. She’s saved her clients from spending hours and hours of unnecessary time and stress.
"Your wedding is such a special day. As your wedding officiant, I hold the responsibility to ensure your ceremony is conducted professionally and is an appropriate reflection of your wedding day." - Sarah
And finally...all you’re left with is photos and memories.
After all is said and done, you only have the memories and photos of your ceremony. The previous reasons focus on the memories but what about your photos? I’ve seen many photos be negatively impacted, or dare I say, ruined by inexperienced officiants. There are many times during the ceremony that photographers look to get a special shot, and it’s critical your officiant knows how to move and stay out of their way. Which is challenging, since, let’s face it, they are running the show!
Whether you decide to use a friend or family member, or professional officiant is a very personal choice. While I cannot stress the value of professional wedding officiants enough, hopefully this helps you avoid several ceremony blunders if you decide to go the DIY route. At the end of the day, I just want to see your ceremony run smoothly!