Having a friend officiate your wedding ceremony is a great personal touch to your big day. This person knows you both, and can add their own personal stories or jokes to ease your nerves standing in front of all your nearest and dearest. Your own involvement in the script for your ceremony can be as in-depth or relaxed as you want it, and you get to have one more special place for someone to have in your wedding party.
But this is a big deal! How do you approach a friend who isn’t already ordained and ask them to take on such an important role? These 5 steps will help you prepare, and allow your friend to make the most informed decision possible:
1. Research your state’s laws on becoming ordained – Marriage laws vary by state, and sometimes even more granular than that. Start with your state’s website for the official laws, and do some Google searches after that. When searching on your state’s page, try keywords such as “ordained minister,” “perform a marriage,” or “solemnize a marriage.”
2. Find organizations or companies that can facilitate the ordination process – There are many online organizations that can certify a person. Browse through a few and see what kind of requirements are needed, and what the certification permits. Some may require payment, but these may be for a lifetime certification as opposed to a limited time. There are a lot of variances so come prepared.
3. Prepare to pay for any expenses associated with certification – Becoming ordained can range from free to around $25 (or more if they plan on really getting into is as a career), so it isn’t a huge chunk of change. But when you’re asking a friend to do this for you, they may not know this and it could come across as a big expense. Let them know right away that it won’t cost them anything.
4. Determine which friend can easily speak in front of a crowd, and if any religious boundaries would stop them from accepting – Many people are legitimately terrified of speaking in front of an audience, let alone can do it well. Make sure your friend feels comfortable in front of a crowd, and preferably has a voice that carries (although if you’ll have a good sound system this isn’t as important). Make sure they also don’t have a religious aversion to becoming ordained. Once they are ordained, they don’t actually need to make religious references at all – but some people may have an internal struggle with this responsibility. Verbally ask them if any such confliction exists to make sure they’re not just saying “yes,” because they felt they had to.
5. When asking, bring printed materials ready so that they can make an educated decision – Most people do not know what it means to become ordained, how to obtain a certification, or how to actually conduct a wedding ceremony. But you’ve just done all this research! Print out some materials you found particularly helpful, and if there is a lot of text highlight the key points for them. Your friend needs to feel informed before answering – just like you need to be informed before asking.
Here are the webpages I printed out when Nick and I asked our friend:
eHow “How-to” guide on becoming ordained in Michigan
Sample wedding ceremony format
(Another good “how-to” guide)
Here is a wonderful article that does a great job at diving deep into officiant considerations ranging from research all the way to the big day:
Good luck! I hope this has helped,