Wedding Disasters! Nightmare Vacations! Restaurant Fails! Do we have your attention now?
If you’re still reading, that’s because we all love a good disaster story, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. As anyone who works in the wedding industry, or at a resort, or in a restaurant can tell you, most folks have great experiences. Almost all weddings are beautiful and memorable, most vacations are great, and almost every time I go out to dinner, I’m pretty satisfied – but that doesn’t get those clicks!
That’s why, after seeing hundreds-of-thousands of happy couples married by friends and family members (who happened to be AMM ministers) I still wasn’t surprised to see an article that ran on Brides.com titled, "5 Couples Who Majorly Regretted Having a Friend Officiate Their Wedding."
To be honest, the article was pretty cringe-inducing, replete with hungover college friends puking during the ceremony, inappropriate jokes, and officiants showing up late. It’s an engaging article, and as a former journalist, I can see why they ran it.
But it’s important to remember that despite its entertainment value (and perhaps even cautionary advice for aspiring officiants -- pro tip, don’t get hammered before the ceremony), the article does NOT represent the vast majority of experiences. The reality is, millions of couples choose friends and family members as their officiants because they have a shared history and values, and because their participation makes the ceremony so much more meaningful.
And so, in the interest of also telling both sides of the story, we’re responding with a list of experiences to back up our side of the story. Here are 4 examples of how choosing friends and family members to officiate created a beautiful and profound ceremony:
1. My Sister-in-Law’s Grandfather
My sister-in-law’s grandfather passed away a few years ago, but she will always cherish that gorgeous summer afternoon when he stood with her in front of us all, and married her to my brother. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience, because we all understood that a new chapter was being started in the family, and every generation was present and participating. When he led them in their vows, we could sense the emotional significance of this moment, not just for the couple, but for the officiant as well.
For my sister-in-law, there was no possible alternative. Even before my brother popped the question, she knew she wanted her grandfather to officiate. She came from a close-knit family that celebrated their history, and there was no way they were going to ask a priest or hire someone off the internet.
2. A College Professor and Her former Students
When Melissa Curie and Dotan Schips decided to tie the knot, they asked their former college professor and American Marriage Ministries (AMM) minister Florence Hunt to officiate the ceremony. The couple knew right away that they wanted their former college professor to do the honors. "She had just been that one person that had always been there through the good times and the bad … and probably knew more about us than we knew about ourselves and our relationship," Melissa told CBS.
For Florence, who had just undergone a double mastectomy, her friendship was so important that she postponed her scheduled reconstructive surgery in order to be there to officiate. She says there's nothing she wouldn't do for the couple, whom she thinks of as her children.
I wasn’t there, but I had the chance to talk to Florence after the event, and her account of the wedding reinforced everything that is awesome about online ordination: finding the perfect officiant.
3. A Celebration of Recovery from Opioid Addiction, Love, and Growth
When AMM Minister Christopher Dexheimer was asked to officiate his brother’s wedding, it was a joyous conclusion to a story with a dark beginning. That story began when the bride and groom both – unbeknownst to each other -- checked into Sierra Tucson, a psychiatric hospital and treatment center for those dealing with substance abuse.
Alba Hancock and Robbie Dexheimer spent years working to overcome their addictions, but in the end, they made it, with the support and love of their families, including the groom’s brother, who helped the couple work their struggles and victories into their ceremony.
No one but a family member - someone who truly understood their journey together - would have been more appropriate to share their story.
4. Lifelong friends make great officiants!
One of our favorite officiants - Matt McMurphy - didn’t choose to become a professional wedding officiant; the profession chose him. All because he was just a friend that was asked to officiate.
He told us it all started when his lifelong friend Jenni and her then-boyfriend got engaged. They decided on three things:
“I was the only non-food-related important item on their list,” Matt said. “So, of course I accepted their request with honor, and I began to research and prepare. The first step was obvious: I needed to become a wedding officiant!”
There are thousands of stories like Matt’s, but what separates all of them from the few horror stories is that in every case, the officiants took their jobs seriously. If you are a couple asking a friend to officiate, our advice is to make sure that they are reliable. (Perhaps that excludes your drinking buddies, but hey - they are probably still going to be great groomsmen.)
One great way to ensure that your officiant takes his or her role seriously is to gift them with a copy of our recently-revised Asked to Officiate. Our best-selling guide to officiating weddings and creating ceremonies has everything that a would-be officiant needs to do prepare for delivering the most personalized ceremony of a lifetime. As always, we encourage you to check it out in our store, in addition to the many other ceremony and officiant resources we offer.