Minister/Officiant · Vendors · Weddings

Is hiring a friend as an officiant a good idea?

Let me say for starters, that the word is officiant (noun). If the person that you’re thinking about hiring doesn’t spell the word correctly, you’ll want to continue to look.

It’s a great idea to have a friend or family member officiate (verb) at a wedding. I was the officiant at my younger brother’s wedding. That was 7 years ago, and I’d been officiating weddings for 10 years at that time.

If you ask a friend or family member to officiate your ceremony, here are the things to consider:

First, even if they are used to speaking in front of others, how will they handle the unexpected? A crying baby, an outdoor ceremony with a loud motorcycle? Or take for instance, will they know to look at the couple during the exchange of vows to see if their face/eyes start to show emotions/tears? Will they know how to handle that: will they pause or just plow right through?

And, this is a tougher one: when people became emotional they will laugh or cry. Often times people laugh during the vows rather than cry, and it can be very disconcerting. Imagine the groom repeating after the officiant, “I promise to be faithful to you,” and then the groom starts to laugh, or the bride starts to laugh. How will the officiant handle that?

I’ve also seen officiants get so nervous they NEVER look at the couple: they only read from the papers in their folder.

Will the officiant tell the bride when to hand off the flowers? Or what if they forget to tell the guests to sit down? I’ve seen a couple weddings where guests stood the entire time because the officiant either forgot to stay anything or didn’t realize they were standing because they never looked up.

It is a very high honor to preside at a wedding – I never take it lightly.

Why hire an experienced professional wedding vendor? What do you do for living? Imagine you’re leaving for a one day vacation and a temp is brought in. How well will they do? Will you be comfortable leaving your job to this person, knowing when you come back things will probably be a mess?

The same goes for having an inexperienced person participating in one of the most important days of your life. I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask a family or friend to take part of your special day. I’m asking you to take a look at it from their point of view.

Once I saw an officiant do his first wedding. Going into it he was so calm and comfortable. But as soon as it started he got so nervous (and it was so obvious on his face) that he skipped over 1/2 of the ceremony, including the rings! Afterwards, during the reception, he told me it was MUCH more difficult than he ever thought. In fact he said he’d never do it again!

Also, you may not want to ask a parent to be the officiant. If my son asked me to officiate, I would say no. My reasoning is this, I can’t be the officiant and father of the groom at the same time. i can’t do the duel role and be in the moment. It’s not possible to be the father of the groom, enjoying that proud moment, while being the officiant.

Speaking of family members having a role, albeit officiant, photographer, coordinator, florist, if I were to be asked to officiate a relatives wedding (sibling, niece, or nephew) I would say no. And if the day comes that I would be asked by a grandchild to officiate their wedding, I would say no. I want to have a single role and focus.

Oh, BTW, I didn’t answer the headline question did I?

If you want family or friend(s) to participate in your wedding day, have them do a reading, or give them a special role that you say that it is so important that they do it: brining marriage license; bringing rings; being your personal assistant (taking care of bringing dress, makeup, hair products, etc.) There are so many things which need to be done, that I’m sure you can make them feel special by giving them a special small part/role for your wedding and/or rehearsal.

Share your thoughts!

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