Every wedding needs someone to perform the ceremony, but finding the right person isn’t always easy, and it can get expensive. Perhaps, like millions of Americans, you aren’t the church-going type. Or maybe you don’t feel like paying the hundreds of dollars that most churches/synagogues/temples charge – with some billing into the thousands. Or, you might be too far from your local place of worship – think destination weddings. If any of these are the case, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. The good news is, you probably already know the perfect wedding officiant, and getting him or her set up to perform your marriage is completely free and only takes a few minutes!
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously said: “you have to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.” Wait a minute! Why are we talking about computers? Don’t wedding planning and building computers have about as much in common as taxes and tacos?
Actually, Job’s advice makes perfect sense when planning your wedding. Change a few words around, and you get this: “you have to start with the couple and work backward to the wedding ceremony.”
Ask yourselves, what are your values and beliefs, and who can best communicate those during your wedding ceremony? Chances are, the person you have in mind is a friend or family member who knows you, your partner, and understands the sort of ceremony that you want. Maybe it’s your sister, or a college roommate. Either way, there definitely someone out there who totally gets you and your hubby, and who would love to play a bigger part in your wedding.
If you decide to go this route, all you need to do is find an officiant and get them ordained online. To make this even easier, we’ll unpack this process step-by-step, starting with choosing an officiant, and then getting them ready for the big day.
Who do I want to officiate my wedding?
At American Marriage Ministries, our belief is that every couple has the right to be married by whomever they want, but in reality, you need to make sure that the person you choose is up to the task, because not everyone is. It’s not a job interview, but we recommend doing your homework. Take your friend out to lunch, ask your cousin to meet for drinks, and ask them how they feel about performing your wedding. Here are some questions you should ask:
- Does the officiant reflect your values and beliefs? – Start by asking yourself, is there someone you know who shares your outlook, and who understands your vision for the wedding? Chemistry is crucial, and it’s important that everyone shares the same, unified vision for the ceremony.
- Are they up to the task? – Public speaking isn’t for everyone. It’s an acquired skill. Make sure that the person you ask is aware of what the job entails – namely, getting up and performing in front of the assembled guests.
As long as these two criteria are met, you’re well on your way to the perfect ceremony, and the rest is up to your imagination! Even better, when it comes to writing the ceremony, you’ve just enlisted the help of a good friend who can help you put your love into words.
Congratulations, you’ve chosen your officiant! What’s next?
Thanks to online ordination, becoming an ordained minister only takes a few minutes and its free! According to The Knot, 43 percent of American couples chose a friend or family member as their officiant, and that number is growing. And where there’s demand, there’s supply, which means you’ve got options. While doing your research, keep in mind that some websites charge hidden fees, ore they require ministers to pay to keep their ordinations up to date. Other websites might not be federally recognized, so read the fine print.
At American Marriage Ministries, our ordination is free, lasts a lifetime, and bestows full legal authority to perform marriages anywhere in the US. We’ve also got plenty of tips to help first-time officiants hit a home run when the time comes that we’d love to share as well.
Once you have an officiant, you can move on to writing the ceremony. Involving the officiant in this process helps build an open and honest rapport that allows you to create a meaningful ceremony. Quite often, the officiant writes the ceremony. Working closely with a friend or family member to write the ceremony is a great way to get the language right. We’ve heard from couples that writing the ceremony helped them give voice to feelings they had for each other that they had never expressed. At the end of the ceremony writing process, you will be closer to each other, and your guest will respond to that love and familiarity during the ceremony.
Checking the last boxes…
Our website provides state-by-state details for officiants and couples about registering as an officiant and signing and completing the marriage license. It’s important to do your research early since some states require officiants to register with the local government office in advance of the wedding. Plus, once the paperwork has been taken care of, you can concentrate on what really matters – celebrating your big day!
About AMM: American Marriage Ministries is a Seattle-based non-profit that ordains ministers through our website theamm.org. We guide officiants through the ceremony creation and delivery, and advocates for our ministers across the country to ensure that everyone can marry who they want, in a way that reflects their values and beliefs.