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Co-Officiating a Wedding Ceremony

Two Officiants, One Wedding

Wait just a moment, are we talking about a wedding ceremony with two ministers? Yes! Well… sort of.

Every couple has the freedom to conduct their wedding however they like, and that extends to the number of ministers. However, only one person can be recognized legally as the couple's officiant: the person who signs their marriage license. While it may sound unconventional, we are asked about this quite often. The multiple-minister ceremony is growing in popularity.

The Ceremony

So if your couple can't settle on a single officiant, why not include more than one? While this makes the ceremony more complicated, wedding ceremony roles have evolved. Keep in mind that adding participants to the ceremony could confuse the audience, the bridal party, and the minister(s) - including you. Avoid this by carefully mapping out each person's role, and following the advice below.

We strongly encourage couples to consider why they want multiple officiants. If you're half of a comedy duo and never perform alone, or your couple wants a family member from each side officiating, etc., well, it might be worth the extra effort. And if your couple does go for it, the officiating duties can be divided section-by-section or line-by-line; new traditions can even be invented.

Couples: Just remember - if the ceremony plans make more sense with a single minister, that's probably the best bet. For more about this, read the Friends and Family participation section below.

Dividing Responsibilities

As with all relationships, good communication is essential. If you're part of a multiple-minister ceremony, you need to communicate with the couple and your co-minister(s). Performing a marriage is typically a job for one person, so there's the potential for confusion with multiple-ministers.

Will ministers be alternating lines in a script or trading sections of the ceremony? Will all ministers say the pronouncement together? Co-officiating can be a great way to get multiple friends/family members involved. Make sure that everyone is assigned a set of responsibilities, and so nothing is overlooked, the couple or one of the ministers should manage the group.

Based on our experience, it's best to divide up duties into bigger sections, with one officiant taking a section or two, and then handing the ceremony off to their co-officiant. In addition to improving flow, this practice minimizes downtime and keeps the ceremony interesting.

The Marriage License & the Law

Only one minister may sign your couple's marriage license as the officiant, and presumably that's you.

If your couple needs help deciding who should sign the marriage license, it should be the minister who led the Declaration of Intent - the 'Do you take? / I do' part. This component is the only required part of the ceremony, where the couple declares their intent to enter into the contract of marriage.

Remember: in a few states, ministers must register with the government before they are recognized as officiants (and allowed to sign marriage licenses). We do our best to inform AMM Ministers of the procedures around the county, but if you miss any deadlines or submit the wrong paperwork, you could be out of luck.

In fact, registration issues are the main reason that couples choose to add a second minister. If you are ready to perform the ceremony, but run into last-minute minister-registration issues, your couple may seek out a local officiant to sign their license, someone who has already satisfied all the legal requirements.

Friends and Family Participation

Of course, the officiant(s) and couple are by no means the only participants in the ceremony. Family and friends often participate by reading a poem, helping with a ceremony ritual, or even standing up front as part of the wedding party. All are good options to consider as alternatives to co-officiating.

Your couple should ask themselves how they want their ministers to engage with the content of the ceremony. If someone is best suited to saying a few words, leading a ritual, and then returning to the audience, that's perfectly fine. There's always a role for the folks that your couple wants to honor on the big day.

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