What to Consider When You Ask Your Friend/Relative to Officiate Your Wedding

This week I've had three, yes three, different brides get in touch with me because the person they asked to marry them backed out at the last minute. This week... this doesn't include the couples I've already talked to this year, and countless brides and grooms I've heard from over the years, just simply this week.

I get it, you're getting married and want to make sure your ceremony is personalized, unique, meaningful, and performed by someone who's known you for years. Plus, added bonus, you want someone who you think will be fun officiating your ceremony.

We all want to feel absolutely comfortable with those whom we chosen to take on big responsibility. We want to know that we can trust that person no matter what. After all, it's your BIG day, so why not get someone who's loyal to you and your fiancé? Why not get someone who's known you throughout your ups and downs, who can really communicate well your relationship during your ceremony?

Here's the thing that you need to consider: most people will obviously say "yes" when you ask them to take on such a HUGE task for your wedding. Why would they want to deny you? I mean, come on, they love you guys, and what an honor. But most people haven't a clue as to what it takes to officiate a wedding. 

People tend to think it's a piece of cake (no pun intended), and all you do is get up, say a few words, and BOOM! you're kissing, everyone is crying, and they've got the biggest smile on their face because they had the best seat in the house. I wish this was the case, and it was that easy. 

For some it works. They just have this innate ability to stand up in front of large groups, speak well, remain calm, and keep the attendees engaged with the ceremony. In my experience though, this is far and few between. 

What happens most of the time is quite a few "ummms" and "aaaahhhhhs", along with nervous ticks. Some get flustered, lose their train of thought, and begin to mumble. Or in quite a few cases, they freak out and at the last second, they cancel on you guys. 

Now, I'm not saying your old college buddy, or grandfather, or your hilarious uncle Bob from Florida won't be able to handle it. I'm not even saying that they'll cancel on you. But here is a list of questions you really need consider, and ask, before you move on to the other things on your "Wedding To-Do" list:

  • Are they comfortable talking in front of large groups?
  • Will they have the time necessary to write out the ceremony, and practice it so it flows smoothly?
  • Have you given them an opportunity to say "no"? (This ones tricky because, like I stated earlier, most will say yes to not offend or hurt you. But have you honestly let them know it's ok for them to say "no"?)
  • Can they speak in a clear, loud voice for all to hear?
  • Are they aware of what all is involved in officiating a wedding, including paperwork?

I'm sure there are other good questions to ask them, but you get the point. 

You see, I've now been officiating for 10 years, and in that time I've had countless brides and grooms call me frantically trying to find someone to officiate their wedding due to someone cancelling at the last second. (I've even had a bride call the night before her wedding!) And let's face it, although I wish I could help every couple who calls me, I've been unable to help some them out because I'm book solid, especially if it's wedding season. (I get couples booking me over a year out sometimes)

So, I'm in no way trying to scare you into hiring me, a professional officiant. Trust me, I'm busy, and I don't want to scare couples into booking me. What I am trying to do, I'm trying to help ensure that you won't be a frantic person, calling me to see if I can cover for your crazy Aunt Tilda, who backed out on you two weeks before your wedding. 

Keep in mind, most professional officiants I know, myself included obviously, will take their time discussing your ceremony at great lengths. They'll make you feel comfortable with your ceremony choices (and there are quite a few you need to consider), they'll personalize your ceremony with your tastes and likes, they'll make it meaningful (it's your wedding, so it has that going for it), it'll be unique since you had a part in it, and the officiant will make it calm and fun for you and your guests.

This is your BIG day, which you've spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours thinking about, planning, coordinating, and organizing. Make sure you have the right person officiating it.