November 17, 2022

Friend or Professional? Who should officiate your wedding?

When it comes to your wedding ceremony, there can be a lot of pressure around who to have as your officiant – the person who legally weds you to your partner. Some of you may already have an officiant in mind. Whether that be the pastor from your family’s church or a close aunt who’s been officiating as a side gig for years, some of you won’t be so lucky. 

Choosing the right officiant is a major decision. If you’re debating between asking a friend or hiring a professional, fear not. In this post, we’re sharing some key things to consider when choosing the right person to help you say “I do.”

Things to consider when asking a friend or family member

Are they a good public speaker? 

If you choose to go with a friend or family member, remember: they will be speaking at your wedding in front of everyone. How do they handle themselves in front of an audience? Can they comfortably write and give a speech? How about their ability to direct a room full of people? You may love the idea of having someone close to you perform the ceremony, but if you’re not 100% confident in their ability to deliver, go with a professional.

Can they easily become ordained?

Naturally, the law surrounding weddings is different in every state. In order for your marriage to be legal, the friend or family member you’d like to officiate your wedding needs to be legally ordained. In most states (Wisconsin included), this can be done online with a small fee. As a courtesy for their role in your wedding, offer to pay for your friends officiant’s license. If you opt for hiring a pro, they’ll handle these logistics themselves from the get-go. 

Where to get ordained & information: American Marriage Ministries (where we are ordained), Universal Life Church & State Laws

Madison ordained ministers
yes, that is Justin officiating a wedding! YES, we do that!

Consider their commitment

Asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding is a major commitment. Coordinating the ceremony day-of is only half of their responsibility. Most officiants work with the couple prior to the big day to write the ceremony script and provide assistance with writing vows. Not to mention the time involved in becoming legally ordained. Finally, they must also follow the legal proceedings after your ceremony to ensure that you and your partner are legally married. 

Consider their compensation

We’ve made it pretty clear that officiating a wedding is an important role requiring time and effort on the part of the person you choose. Your friend or family member will probably be honored to have a part, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to compensate them in some way. We recommend taking them out to dinner, getting them a gift, or even bringing them along to your bachelor/bachelorette party and paying for all their drinks. Really any way to show them how much you appreciate their commitment to your wedding.

This role has a significant responsibility. If you opt to go with a friend or family member as your officiant, it’s your job to help them navigate the necessary steps. If that sounds like too much to handle, hire a professional.

Things to Remember if a friend is officiating your wedding:

  • They tell everyone to sit down when they arrive at the altar.
  • Make sure you go over the ceremony together – yes, rehearsals are essential!
  • After announcing YOUR MARRIED, have them move to the side so they are NOT in the photo when you kiss! Go to another level and step out of the way before announcing! This makes a world of difference!

elopement officiant

Things to consider when hiring a professional 

Do you share the same values? 

When opting for a professional officiant, make sure to find someone who aligns with your values. Will you be having a religious or a secular ceremony? Just because your ceremony isn’t happening in a church doesn’t mean your options are limited for finding a religion-based officiant. And on the contrary, if you’re planning for a secular ceremony, there are many officiants that aren’t affiliated with any religious organization. Are you and your partner from different backgrounds? Try searching for interfaith officiants with experience in multicultural weddings.

Read their reviews and browse their past ceremonies 

When deciding on an officiant, read the reviews of other couples to see if: 

  1. They had a similar ceremony style to what you’re envisioning. 
  2. They have good things to say about the officiant. 

Many officiants will have portfolios of past ceremonies or examples of past vows and speeches they’ve written. Give these a thorough review to make sure you like their style. 

Get to know your top candidates.

Even if their portfolio of elegant speeches blew you away, it’s important to get to know your potential officiant on a more personal level. Whether you and your partner can take them out for coffee or hop on a Zoom call, find a way to confirm that they’re a good fit. Remember, your officiant isn’t just playing a role in your wedding. They’re playing a role in the rest of your lives. Make sure you’re confident in who you’ve chosen to play this special part.

Our favorite officiants: Koru Ceremony: Celebrating New Beginnings & I Do Officiant

Eloping and in need of an officiant? Look no further…

From the photographer to the officiant, balancing several vendors adds a layer of unnecessary stress to a laid-back elopement. If you’re still on the hunt for the right officiant for your elopement, look no further. At Natural Intuition Photography, we offer officiant services as an optional add-on to our Intimate Elopement Experience, creating a custom service that matches your vibe and makes your elopement as fun and stress-free as possible.