Anyone Officiated A Wedding?

DS recently got engaged to a wonderful young woman. We are thrilled.

They totally shocked me by asking me to officiate. I am honored. Neither family is religious and in the state in which they are being married I don’t even need to be ordained so no issues there. Of course I agreed to do it.

My question is has anyone done this for their kids? Just looking for tips. My biggest issue will be holding it together during the ceremony.

I’ve officiated at many weddings as a Justice of the Peace. I’ve attended a wedding where the father of the bride officiated the wedding as a judge and justice of the peace. It was very touching.

It’s nice to let the couple choose anything they’d like to add–personalizing their vows to one another, poetry, readings. If you and they want to let other loved ones have roles, they can do some of the readings as well.

If you can stay pretty calm, it will be lovely! Even if you’re a bit emotional, everyone will understand.


I had my cousin officiate for us. It was supposed to be my grandma but she had to back out and I had to quickly replace her with someone in my family as Mr R’s family would not honor my wishes for this to be a non-religious ceremony.

I wrote the script for my cousin from end to end. She had to do nothing other than read off the paper (and sign the form afterwards). It was super helpful and she said it was the only way she kept it together.

(It also helped that I kept it super light and funny. I didn’t want to be a complete mess.)

Good luck!

When D1 got married in a non-religious, the groom’s long time best friend officiated. (He’s funeral director in his RL job so he didn’t even have to buy/rent an appropriate suit. How efficient of D1 and SIL!) He got internet ordained so he could perform the ceremony.

The officiant gave a small welcome speech to guests ( which he’d written in advance), then introduced the bride & groom, saying few impromptu word about how he knew each of them. The bride and groom wrote their own vows (which included a poetry reading by the groom) that they read from paper, then they jointly lit a unity candle as the officiant explained the symbolism. He pronounced them, they kissed–all done.

The whole ceremony was very unique, very simple and very “them”.

@WayOutWestMom’s post suggests an interesting question that’s very relevant for the OP: If the family member/friend who is officiating is a woman, what does she wear?

Professional officiants usually dress as the clergy they are or wear a business suit or businesslike dress. This looks appropriately formal but doesn’t detract attention from the bride and groom. However, a woman family member might feel out of place in a business outfit during the reception. And the kind of dress a woman would usually wear to a wedding might be too party-ish and conspicuous for an officiant.

@romanigypsyeyes, your officiant was a woman, right? What did she wear?

my brother’s father in law did his wedding. he was an ordained minster or something at one time. my brother is an atheist. the bride’s dad did a great job. sweet short and non sectarian. if I approved it is 2 thumbs up I promise. I went to another wedding where the brother in law did the officiating and it was pretty cool too. (non religious and positive, semi funny and upbeat)

@Marian yes, woman. She wore just a little, plain black dress. I can PM you a picture if you’d like.

My wedding was super informal though. It was on a beach and I (and most of the other women) were barefoot (to give you an idea)

Um Marion I’m the father. Check my avatar for why my user name is what it is. :slight_smile:

I was just curious, @romanigypsyeyes. The OP is a woman, and I was wondering whether she might need to have two outfits, one for the ceremony and one for the reception.

Men have it easier. They can wear the same suit for every dress-up occasion in their lives.

Marian, read the post above. I am the OP and I assure you I am male.

My brother-in-law is internet ordained and has officiated at quite a few weddings. When he officiated at his sister’s wedding, he used the wedding ceremony from The Princess Bride (without the twoo wuv weird accent!).

I rarely have been invited or stayed for the reception as I generally don’t know the couple prior to the ceremony. I wear a judicial robe (actually a black choir robe because it was MUCH cheaper and very similar in appearance) when I officiate. It is similar to the robes I wore when sitting on the bench.

I have a simple dress under the robe so can easily remove the robe it I participate in the reception, which is what list officiants I know tend to do if they plan to attend the festivities afterwards. The men generally have a dress shirt and dress slacks, with or without a tie. They may also have a jacket as desired.

Something to be aware of – officiants need to do more than just preside over the ceremony. They need to also sign the marriage certificate, and often the officiant takes responsibility for making sure the certificate is delivered back to the right place at the appropriate time. So one thing you should do is review the laws of the state where they are getting married so that both you & your son & his bride are well aware of what is required. The laws of each state are different, to add to the confusion.

For example, my DD & SIL live in one state (A) but got married in a neighboring state (B). The laws of state B require that the marriage license be issued and returned in the county where the wedding takes place, within a specific time frame. My DD had a good friend & co-worker officiate – he had officiated for others before and it was a wonderful ceremony – but DD & SIL were married on a Saturday and took off for a European honeymoon the following Monday morning… and the officiant almost forgot to get the certificate returned to the county clerk. Fortunately he did remember in time, and got the certificate delivered where it was supposed to go on the very last day legally allowed… but that’s why it’s important to know these things.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the form in advance, so you know whose signature goes where, how many witnesses need to sign and where their signatures go, etc. (No matter how well organized you are in other contexts, things can get really confusing right after a wedding, especially if your son is the one getting married.)

All very good points Calmom. Thank you!

In HI, much of the marriage license is completed online but you still have to appear before an official in person with your documentation so your application is entered in the computer system. If the officiant has an account in the computerized system, you can get a temporary license within 72 hours after the ceremony and a certified copy is mailed out within 2 weeks later. (It used to take much longer unless the couple needed a rush due to immigration, insurance, etc.)

I agree that the officiant and couple should definitely familiarize themselves with the rules and refs for marriages in the state where the marriage will be held, so there aren’t any surprises.

Married to a member of the clergy, who has officiated at many weddings. One thing to keep in mind: even clergy are cautioned to think carefully about presiding in very personal situation. For example, at their own children’s wedding, or a family member’s funeral. Some are able to handle it, for others it becomes too emotional.

My dad was a minister, he did a ton (including co-officiating mine).

I was asked to do a vow renewal ceremony by some friends and I agreed but they gave me a script so I only had to read it. I am not clergy or anything like it, but it was a sort of hippie situation :slight_smile:

One of my brothers officiated at our niece’s wedding last summer. Noone knew until he came walking down the aisle. It was a great surprise. We all call him Reverend Dan now. He was close enough to the bride and groom to be personal and funny, but not so close that he was going to get weepy and overwhelmed. He did a great job.

No need to be religious to become clergy based on son and cousins experiences. Several of his cousins had friends do the honors. Different generations- we had the hospital chaplain do ours with a ceremony he had on file that suited us. I guess getting the legal docs filed is the most important duty. Otherwise the ceremony depends on the couple’s wishes. The parents get to accept it or not (for any generation).