Pros and Cons: Having a Friend Officiate Your Wedding

The perks and drawbacks of asking a loved one to preside over your vows.

Many pairs choose to ask a close friend or family member to preside over their nuptials... But what does that really mean for your ceremony service?

Photo: Petula Pea Photography

While coordinating your wedding, you’re sure to run into aspects of planning that you didn’t realize had to be dealt with – nuanced tasks tend to spring up out of nowhere, surprising even the most organized couples. One such detail is that of your ceremony officiant. Due to the fact that most coordination is done for the reception, some pairs forget that they’ll also have to design a vow exchange: including selecting the person that will end up marrying them! 

It isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and many duos face the choice of hiring a professional – religious or non-denominational – or asking a close friend or family member to preside over the nuptials. But what does that really mean for your service?

In order to help you choose, we devised a list of the pros and cons of asking a relative or friend to wed you both.


-  It’s bound to be personalized. Unless your friend is a professional officiant and expresses no real emotions or feelings, the sentiment factor of your ceremony will definitely be upped. They can share a story or memory of one or both of you, making your vows that much more meaningful. Plus, they may get a little emotional, which will in turn make you emotional, creating a sweet atmosphere for your service.

-  It’s another way to include someone you love. If you have a beloved aunt, cousin, or hometown neighbor that you’d like to honor, this might be the perfect way to do so. If they’re willing to go through the proper channels to get ordained – or they’ve already been ordained – then they may jump at the opportunity to be involved in such a pivotal way.

-  What is said is up to you. More than likely, they won’t enter into the role with preconceived requirements and assumptions about how the ceremony will proceed. They will be much more flexible and surely work with you and your spouse-to-be on the phrasing, structure, and length of the exchange. This way, you can design the entire schedule yourself, instead of most or a few of the points.


-  The person may not really know what they’re doing. They may claim to be fantastic public speakers with lots of experience, but you cannot really guarantee that they’ll be able to do everything correctly or handle anything that might go wrong. They could just freeze up when the time comes. It’s possible that they were president of the debate club in college, but how will they react if your cousin’s rowdy children start making noise? If a belligerent guest attempts to stop the wedding? If the dog-slash-ring-bearer swallows a wedding band?

-  Legal issues may arise. Getting ordained can be a tricky process, especially depending on your area of residence. If your officiant lives in a different state than you and/or your venue, discrepancies can come up. In most cases, you’ll just have to blindly trust that your chosen relative or friend will come through on the legalities of it all, but there’s always a possibility you’ll end up unofficially married.

-  Extra work for them and extra work for you. If you don’t hire a professional, it means all of the additional legwork comes down to you and your sweetie. You’ll have to take the time to write out a script and review it with your officiant, as well as obtain all of your legal marriage documents yourself. It can put added stress onto you, and when you’re under duress, you are more likely to make a mistake; whether it be with another aspect of wedding planning, or even with legal forms or your marriage license.

To get additional tips on how to personalize your vow exchange, check out our step-by-step guide to your service or draw inspiration from real couples’ ceremonies. Click here to see a sneak peek of our Spring 2016 issue – available on or before March 22nd  and make sure to subscribe to ensure you don't miss an issue!

Opening photo by Katie Stoops Photography