There are dozens of options when choosing an officiant (New Age-y? Presbyterian?) and you don’t want to accidentally hire someone you’re uncomfortable with. If you don’t have a family minister, rabbi, or justice of the peace in mind, why not have someone you love and trust perform what will be the most important ceremony of your life? By asking a friend or relative to officiate your wedding, you can save time auditioning candidates and feel secure that the person who marries you is someone who intimately knows you and your hubbie-to-be as a couple. Plus, the ceremony will be more poignant because your ceremony will not be another “gig” for your friend — it actually means something to her.
Yet, in order to have a friend marry you, she must first become ordained. But don’t fret — the process is as easy as choosing her to marry you two:
Your friend’s first step is actually becoming a minister. Fortunately, several online ministries will ordain her for a nominal fee (see step 4). Some require short applications or other paperwork as well, but nothing too arduous. Most of the time, the process of becoming ordained is simply a matter of filling out an online form and paying a fee.
Some institutes are religion-specific, but you can choose from several nondenominational and interfaith groups as well. The most popular organization is the American Fellowship Church, which ordains someone of any religion and allows its ministers to officiate nondenominational wedding ceremonies.
The most important aspect of choosing which organization will ordain your friend is its legitimacy. Recognized online ministries include the Universal Life Church, Rose Ministries, Universal Ministries, and the American Fellowship Church. Double check the status of the organization with the New York State secretary’s office to make sure your union will be legally recognized.
Expect ordination to cost anywhere from absolutely nothing to about $25. Most online ministries accept credit and debit cards as well as PayPal. Your credentials can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of days to arrive, depending on the ministry.
Now that your BFF is officially a minister, she needs to make sure that she includes the “Declaration of Intent” when officiating at your ceremony for your marriage to be legal. Most people recognize the declaration as the point in the ceremony when the official asks: “Do you take Jane Doe to be your lawfully wedded wife?” The word “lawfully” is actually the key word — it must be said in order for the marriage to be legal. Aside from that, the ceremony can be customized in a way that truly reflects you and your future spouse’s love and your personalities.
A traditional wedding ceremony consists of a processional, welcome, the declaration, a reading consisting of poetry, literature, or religious text, the exchanging of vows and rings, the pronouncement, and recessional. But the beauty of having a friend or relative officiate is that you can truly tailor every single aspect of your wedding ceremony to please the most important people there — you and your honey!
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