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New survey shows most couples don’t want a wedding, so how do wedding officiants serve them best?

Published Tuesday, May. 10th, 2022


How can officiants best serve reluctant couples during this year's wedding season? 




We just asked 250 people in relationships that are planning to get married what they want most from a wedding ceremony, and the results were shocking: 


  • Most people say they don’t want to have a wedding ceremony at all, of any size. 


  • Nearly half say they’re uncomfortable standing or speaking in front of a crowd. 


  • And an overwhelming majority say that if they must have a ceremony, they want fewer than 50 guests to attend.


This surprising insight into what couples really want – versus what many of us see trending in popular wedding blogs and magazines – could have big implications for this wedding season… and the future of the wedding industry in general. 


The results also offer valuable insight for wedding officiants looking for ways to best serve their couples as they take the leap into marriage.


So, let’s take a look at the data, and unpack what it might mean for you as a wedding professional! 



A Closer Look the Data 


We asked 250 people who plan to wed in the next two years the following three questions: 


1. If you could have your way, would you rather get married by simply signing the marriage license with an officiant, without any guests?


2. What is the ideal number of wedding guests at your ceremony?


3. Does the idea of getting married in front of a large number of guests make you uncomfortable?


The results were clear:


Most couples want to skip the wedding ceremony and get married as simply as possible – by signing their license with an officiant. Many of these couples will probably have a ceremony anyway, but they’ll try and keep things as small as possible. And some couples still want to go big, but this group is smaller than before. 




The stats


54% of couples said they would rather skip the marriage ceremony and simply sign a marriage license. 20% said they might want to skip the ceremony. 


Only 26% of couples were certain that they wanted a wedding ceremony. 


This pie chart shows the results of the question 'Would you skip the wedding ceremony' in favor of a marriage license signing ceremony, and the majority response is yes, at 54%


54% of couples say that the ideal number of wedding guests is between 10 - 50 people. 19% said they’d prefer fewer than 10 people to attend. And 28% of couples want more than 50 people to join them on the wedding day.

A pie chart showing the response to the question, 'What is the ideal number of wedding guests', with the majority of individuals saying 10 to 50 guests, at 54%


Nearly half of all couples, 47%, say they’re uncomfortable standing in front of a large crowd on the big day. 36% say they don’t mind a crowd watching them take their vows, and almost 17% aren’t sure how they’ll feel when the time comes.

This pie chart shows the response to the question, "Does the idea of standing in front of a large crowd on the wedding day make you uncomfortable," with the largest portion of individuals saying yes, at 46.6%



What this Means for Wedding Officiants


From where we stand, this means that wedding officiants can best serve their couples by:


  • providing additional options for small ceremonies
  • offering signing-only services
  • and sharing creative alternatives for couples who are anxious at the altar


And we predict the growing demand for small and informal ceremonies will lead to more friends and family members being asked to officiate – something that we love to see! These sentiments will also see couples exploring more diverse venues, times, and locations. 


For professional officiants, our advice for the coming months is this: 


  • Tell your couples about sign and go ceremonies, and let them know that a simple license signing ceremony is always an option, if that’s what they want to do.


 How to Officiate a Sign & Go Marriage Ceremony

  • Explore new ways to make a license signing ceremony special. You might give your couple a decorative marriage certificate, meet them at a special location, or offer to take photos of them against a cute backdrop. Consider creating a ‘Sign & Go’ package and advertise this option. 


How to Make a Marriage License Signing Ceremony Feel Special


  • Tell your couples about elopements and micro weddings. Give them multiple options for intimate gatherings that include unique elements like unity ceremonies and special readings – additions that can give a ceremony a big vibe while keeping the guest list small. 


Unity Ceremony Inspiration


  • Suggest ways to get a couple’s friends and family involved in their ceremony, so that couples who are uncomfortable in the spotlight have the opportunity to share the stage – and the pressure!


  • Suggest alternatives to a traditional procession that will limit an anxious couple’s time in front of a crowd. For example, they might enter from the side, have guests come to them, or walk down the aisle together.


7 Alternatives to Walking Down the Aisle


  • Suggest sweet seating arrangements that will make couples feel less anxious during the ceremony – such as having guests sit in a circle, or even cross-legged around the marriage altar.


  • Most importantly, remind couples that their wedding ceremony – or marriage license signing ceremony – can look any way they want it to. This important celebration should reflect their values and preferences, even when those preferences fall outside the norm. Help them decide what they want to do without worrying about the expectations of others, and then work together to come up with creative options that make them feel seen, respected, and loved! 



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You only get one shot to deliver a perfect wedding ceremony.


There’s no ‘take-two’ when it comes time for a couple to say ‘I do’--  Wedding officiants only get one shot to perform a perfect wedding ceremony. 







Give yourself the tools and training you deserve to succeed as a wedding officiant, so that you can stand beside the lucky couple with complete confidence on their big day. 







Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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