Published: Thursday, Aug. 8th, 2019
We often find ourselves in conversations with professional officiants, and the following question comes up frequently:
“Why has it become so popular for couples to ask a friend or family member to perform their wedding ceremony?”
This might sound like an easy question to answer, but the reality is that this trend is part of a wider social change taking place in our country. We’re all carving out our own path in life, becoming more accepting and embracing individuality and authenticity in new ways. And that includes celebrating milestones and meaningful moments on our own terms… especially weddings! So in a sense, the explanation is deeply personal, and the exact answer will be different for each couple.
That said, it’s worth covering some of the most common reasons couples choose a friend or family member to marry them, because we want couples (and ministers of course) to realize that choosing your own path is empowering. We’re here to help!
From talking to couples, and the friends and other loved ones being asked, we've learned that the decision often comes down to three main reasons… Sometimes it is just one of these three reasons, and sometimes, it is a combination of them!
The couple can’t find (or doesn’t know how to find) an officiant that will 'fit' who they are as a couple and what they want from their ceremony.
Many couples getting married are nonreligious, interfaith, 'spiritual but not religious,' follow a nonmainstream religion with unique rites and rituals, or some other combination thereof that makes it more difficult for them to find the perfect officiant. In cases like this, there might not be an organization or religious group for them to reach out to, or anyone who understands what they're looking for living nearby. That’s why they start looking inside their own circle of friends and family.
It could also be that they want a 'fun ceremony,' something offbeat and nontraditional, and having never seen a professional officiant do a 'fun ceremony,' they don’t know who to go to (or if it's even possible!). Adding to the confusion, most professional officiants have titles like 'Reverend' or 'Pastor', even if they aren't very religious, which doesn't sound very 'fun' and can be a turn off to young couples who aren't religious.
It’s worth mentioning that most professional wedding officiants are total rockstars, who can deliver ceremonies that range from downright goofy, to formal and religious. AMM's position on things is that there’s a perfect officiant for every couple, so do your homework!
Some couples want their ceremony to be personal, and feel that a friend or family member who knows them will deliver a much more intimate and authentic ceremony.
For many couples looking for an intimate, personalized ceremony, this is a natural choice. Having a lifelong friend, mentor, sibling, or loving grandparent lead their ceremony can add an additional element of intimacy and connection that a professional officiant wouldn't.
Of course, even if that friend or family member has a long relationship with the couple, they'll probably still need help creating a personalized wedding ceremony. That’s why it's essential for new officiants to be coached on how to avoid embarrassing the couple or making things uncomfortable for the guests... They should avoid the cringe factor at all costs! (That's why we recommend our Officiant Training pages to all new officiants!)
The couple wants to save money.
This is a big one: A friend or family member is free. When working with a small budget, that’s pretty appealing.
And to be honest, a friend or family member who's willing to use our ceremony workbook and free online training resources can deliver a more personalized and memorable ceremony than most professional officiants. (Yup, we said it...)
After reviewing the answers we've heard from couples and their officiants, we can't say for sure that one option (a professional or a loved one) is better than the other, but we hope this clears things up a little for couples and for professional officiants!
The short answer? It really depends on the couple.
There are great professional wedding officiants out there to fit almost any style. But couples have to be willing to start the search early and take the time to find one that fits, even if they have to search outside their area… And they have to be willing (or able) to afford what those services are worth. These are key reasons why choosing a loved one to officiate will likely remain a popular choice for modern couples.
If you're engaged and you want to ask a loved one to perform your ceremony, just make sure you give them the right tools, like our Asked to Officiate workbook. This popular book provides a complete roadmap for first-time wedding officiants, from planning to delivery.
It will reduce their stress, and yours, while helping them create and deliver a beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony.
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!