Post # 17
Something to think about is that you want to make sure whoever officiates knows what to do. Depending on what you want, you’ll get a better idea of timing, “oops” moments, how many readers are too many, how to explain traditions to guests, etc.
My fiancee and I discussed this, and decided that if we do use a friend, that we’d want someone that has performed weddings before. Since that didn’t include any of our friends, we went and found a “professional” officiant.
Post # 18
Do check out the laws in your state! I performed my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in Massachusetts. We had to file with the Secretary of State’s office for me to get a certificate of solemnization that was valid for one day for one ceremony. It was not an onerous process, especially since we started a bit in advance.
On the actual ceremony side, I have some suggestions on pros and cons/considerations and how to deal with them.
PRO: personalized ceremony; I asked my brother and sister in law to talk about what they wanted in a ceremony (secular/religious; time length; particular readings/music, etc.) Then we talked it over the three of us. I used Rabbi Devon Lerner’s book on interfaith wedding ceremonies as guide.
PRO/CON: personal attachment: My brother is my best friend and I adore my SIL. Which meant that I was so excited. It also meant that at moments, I really had to work on my composure.
Consideration: How much time/effort will this person put into preparing your ceremony? I worked really hard on writing their ceremony. You want someone who will invest serious attention to your ceremony.
Consideration: Public speaking abilities. You want someone who can deliver a great speech.
Consideration: inside jokes; I admit it. I had one inside reference in the ceremony specifically for my brother. But it was also a quote that without knowing the joke, everyone else could appreciate on a different level.
By The Way, being the officiant in their wedding was SOOOO much better than being a bridesmaid!
Post # 19
my brother had a family friend do their wedding. it was beautiful and personal. she’s a cantor so she’s used to being in front of a crowd, and she wrote the ceremony.
Post # 20
Wow, everyone, thanks for all the feedback! Keep them coming– sounds like a lot of people are interested in this.
2d bride, I really appreciate your bringing up the legal issues– that would be a pretty big drawback! Annoyingly, the state where my wedding will be is one of the four states that the article mentions (VA). Any VA brides have experience with this?
Post # 21
The only downfall I faced when marrying friends is that I tend to get emotional because I know them so well. I managed to hold it together but just barely! In one of the wedding videos, you can hear my voice crack as I “pronounce” the couple. I was really embarrassed but the couple (and most of the guests) said that it was touching. ::shrugs:: I guess it depends on how you feel about it.
On the upside, you can totally customize your ceremony which is the reason both of my couples asked me to do it. Just make sure you find out what the requirements are for registration because some states/counties make it much harder than others.
Post # 22
@lazylazywoman: maybe check out this link and call the offices mentioned.
Also, ask if they offer the opportunity for someone to apply for a short-term justcie of the peace license or a certificate os solemnization, which is what I did in Massachusetts.
Post # 23
Cannot believe that article! Anyone else thought of going to the courthouse before the wedding if it’s more on the unofficial side? I’m getting married in my hometown state which is not where I’m living but I’d like to have the legal benefits of marriage at the beginning of the summer (ie insurance)…..anyone else done this?
Post # 24
@lazylazywoman, there is a procedure for someone to get a one-day license in Virginia to perform a wedding ceremony. However, it requires that they post a $500 bond. They get the $500 back after they do all the paperwork, but it’s still an upfront cost that may be an issue.
Another thing to think about is having someone with the right religious qualifications do a secular ceremony. Unitarian ministers, for example, will typically do a ceremony for nonmembers, and without a lot of religious references. I have a friend who is a Wiccan priest, and she has performed completely secular ceremonies for people who are not Wiccans.
Or you could always get the paperwork out of the way with a JOP, and then have whatever ceremony and officiant you wanted after that.
Post # 25
2dBride, thanks for the info. Do you know if one has to be a Virginia resident to get one of those one-day passes? I don’t live in VA, nor does my fiance nor my sister whom I was planning as the officiant. My parents do (as do my fiance’s parents), for what it’s worth, although not in the county where the wedding will take place (Loudon).
My back-up plan is the NoVA Ethical Society, which can do a legal, secular-sounding (but officially religious) wedding.
My fiance suggested the JoP option, but I’d rather have the actual ceremony be legally binding.
Post # 26
lazylazywoman, Unfortunately, a license as a marriage celebrant can only be issued to a resident of Vorgomoa/ Virginia Code § 20-25. The good news is, a person who resides anywhere in Virginia can get the authorization from his or her home Circuit Court, and then perform a marriage anywhere in Virginia. And the fact that you and your Fiance are not Virginia residents is not a problem.
Post # 27
Oh, boo, we really wanted someone who isn’t a VA residents. Thanks for all your help.
Post # 28
ok so i think that this is not the norm, but i went to a coworker’s wedding a few months ago and the officiant was the groom’s uncle… it was very awkward especially for those that didn’t get the sense of humor behind it! the officiant was joking around a lot, which granted its always nice to have a little chuckle to lighten the mood but it was like too much… like he was related to the groom so he thought it would be ok to do that i guess but i mean it was their wedding ceremony. at one point, just going to throw this out there, he brought up sex! don’t remember the context but it was strange and all my fellow coworkers were looking at each other like… holy sh*t, did he really just say that?
Post # 29
I have a totally different “pitfall”. A looooong time ago I told my uncle (who is a minister) that I wanted him to hold my wedding ceremony. He never forgot it, but over the years we’ve really grown apart. He has become very negative & is usually making fun of people behind their backs (including my FI)… however he STILL expects to hold my wedding. My Aunt said he wouldn’t come if he can’t hold it. I’ve had enough drama regarding my wedding over the last year, so I’m kind of at the point where I’m going to say “Fine. Don’t come”. lol
I think the nicest weddings I’ve been to have been held by close personal family & friends. I agree that really the only pitfall is that your have to write your own ceremony which can be time consuming. 🙂
Post # 30
I’m really debating having a friend officiate versus hiring an officiant. My Fiance would prefer to have a friend officiate because it would be more personal than hiring a stranger. But my family is more on the traditional side. They’re ok with a secular ceremony but having a friend officiate is pushing things kinda far. I think hiring an officiant could also be beneficial because they would have the experience to direct things.
I’d love to hear anyone elses experience!
Post # 31
My cousin and I were just talking about this. She said they went with an officiant they did not previously know because they didn’t want to be mad at a friend/family member if that person royally messed up the ceremony. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it could be a valid concern if you tend to hold grudges. I’m debating this question myself right now and don’t know which way I’ll lean.