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A majority of Wedding Officiants are seeing decreases in their role... is it time to freak out?

Published Tuesday, Nov. 10th, 2020

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

Officiants in an overwhelming majority of states are seeing a decrease in their role. Is this cause for alarm?


The short answer is no, although it might help to think less in terms of ‘decreasing’ and more along the lines of ‘distilling.’ And like most things related to the pandemic, it offers an opportunity to step back, reassess, and adapt. Put another way, this shutdown-based reevaluation of the way we celebrate weddings currently taking place represents an opportunity for officiants to restate their roles as central to the wedding experience. 


A new survey completed in November by nearly 400 AMM ministers has provided some surprising (and some not-so-surprising) information about the ongoing industry changes facing wedding officiants. One of the most telling and important discoveries is that officiants in most states are reporting a decrease in their role as officiant. Only 10 states reported an increase or no change.


Psst… to those wedding officiants and lovers of marriage equality in Wyoming, South Dakota, and Kansas, you were awful quiet this time around. What trends are you seeing? We want to know!


Unfortunately, no one at AMM has mastered the crystal ball (yet), but we suspect this decrease in responsibility isn’t dire. Why?




Because just as our survey in April showed, this new data confirmed that most couples still aren’t canceling their weddings. Starry-eyed lovers are still getting married, and they continue to dazzle us with their innovation and creativity. Couples are thinking outside the big-budget box to plan weddings that are incredibly intimate, personal, and unique. 


Couples have shown us that when it comes to love, where there’s a will, there’s a wedding… And where there’s a wedding, there’s an officiant! Officiants are as essential as ever. 


These innovative modern weddings come without the bells and whistles of the past. Gone (for now) are the big banquet halls and the dozen white doves. With less pageantry and formality comes less need for coordination between officiants and venues, officiants and wedding planners, officiants and DJs, and officiants and professional wedding photographers. Shorter, smaller microweddings and elopements mean fewer in-person guests for officiants to wrangle, less audio equipment to haul, and often simpler scripts to write.


All of this might mean less logistical work for officiants, and less of the kinds of involvement they’re used to seeing. But it doesn’t mean they’re less valuable. Quite the opposite… it distills the work of the officiant into its most essential form. 


This shift in trends distills the work of the officiant into its most essential form. The focus of these nontraditional modern weddings lands right where it needs to… not on expensive theatrics, but on the couple and their resilient, persistent, unshakeable love. And there to help affirm that love? Their officiant, of course! 


It’s also worth noting that relative to other wedding professionals, officiants have seen a smaller decrease in their role. Wedding DJs for example, have seen a much higher dropoff in demand for their services.  


These shifts in responsibility also offer officiants more time to focus on new offerings. 


Some may choose to focus on creating custom scripts re-imagined for small weddings and hybrid weddings. Some might enjoy offering new ways to keep online guests involved and engaged during livestreamed weddings. Some officiants might spend more time on extras like premarital support and communication tips for couples. And some may want to offer unity ceremonies like handfasting or candle lighting, that give families and friends more opportunities to participate and connect


Things will continue to change. That much is certain, even without a crystal ball. The wedding industry is being reimagined before our eyes. But with this restructuring comes great cause for hope and joy, too. Because despite all the uncertainty, love is still not canceled


And we’ll continue to celebrate it, champion it, defend it, and solemnize it, no matter what changes the next few seasons bring!

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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