This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
Leading one of life’s most important events…
When a couple decides to ask a friend or family member to be their wedding officiant, they’re hand-picking someone who seems to have the confidence and experience to lead them in one of their life’s most important events.
Most couples choose someone they know because they have an outdated image in their head of a pious minister conducting a ceremony. Many couples don’t go to church and carry this crazy image around when it’s no longer the case. They see a minister and sometimes even a professional officiant as someone who doesn’t know or understand them.
Handpicking the person who knows the engaged couple may convince them they’ll feel comfortable in an otherwise nerve-wracking situation. Plus, a friend is not going to judge or embarrass them. The hand-picked officiant makes the couple feel much more comfortable.
Friendiants know you
As a professional officiant for the past 30 years, I totally get why you’d choose a friend or family member over me. I’ll never know you in the way your hand-picked friend officiant (I call them Friendiants) knows you.
Plus, your shared history has given you good reason to believe he or she either knows what to do in order to lead a ceremony or won’t mind learning.
You trust they have what it takes not only to get licensed to have the legal authority to marry you but will also figure out how to convey the perfect words through your ceremony and lead your way from your entrance to exit.
You have confidence in them. But are you SURE they have confidence in her or himself?
There’s two signals that blast off in their head after you’ve asked your hand-picked officiant to do the deed.
Flattered, frazzled, and fizzled
The first is, “Wow, I am so darn flattered. They must like me enough / believe I’m a good speaker / know how much I love them … to trust me to lead their ceremony.
Yes. They feel appreciative, excited, and honored. That’s Firework #1 that goes off.
The second blast is a more frazzling firework. It goes something like, “OMG how do I do that? What all does an officiant do? How do I find out how to lead a wedding ceremony? What if they don’t like it or I screw up?
The embers of the bright flash of light go every which way, and fizzle out into dismay, panic, or confusion. Yet all this is coupled with their love for you and most assuredly, they DO want to figure this officiant thing out.
Even the most experienced of public speakers, whether they’re a teacher, a seminar leader, the life of the party, experiences these self-questioning tendencies.
When they have your back more often than not
Which they’ll never let you know about. Because who likes to share their insecurities? How many people are vulnerable about not having all their ducks in a row? We seem particularly averse to laying our soul to bare in our culture. Especially Uncle Joe or Aunt Ashley who usually has your back on everything else.
A couple’s chosen one DOES have a lot to figure out. They have the wisdom that helped you through a breakup. How to pitch the baseball. Ways to finance your first car. Refuge from a big argument with your parents.
Ceremonies are a whole other ball of wax
But officiating is a whole other ball of wax. Most newbies do NOT know where to start.
Interviewing experienced officiants
How do I know they flare and sputter about the honor you’ve presented to them? I’ve hosted a Facebook group for new and experienced officiants for over two years. I get to know some of them and also interview many of them for a FB Live I do every week. “How did you decide to become an officiant and what was that like?”, I ask them.
“My niece asked me and I couldn’t disappoint her.” “He was my best friend and I thought it was awesome that he wanted me to do this for him.”
OMG – that down side of
About half were hand-picked by someone they knew. Yes, s/he loved the personal affirmation. THEN about 8 out of 10 admit after the “Oh wow, how cool is this!” firework dies down, they felt panicked, and the “OMG what did I get myself into?” energy took over.
So, they launch their other best friend, Google. They find some Facebook pages where they can ask questions and get them answered. Word of warning — they don’t really know the reputation or the expertise of the person answering their question.
Google shows them a myriad of websites with all kinds of information from luxury Martha Stewart Weddings to unique-to-the-max Offbeat Bride.
With all their information in hand, it’s time to face the fact that a majority of the instances it’s highly unlikely they have a way of actually going through a ceremony’s progression from start to finish.
The challenges of winging it
Maybe winging it through the presentation, the ring exchange, or the pronouncement will be fun. Or maybe it won’t. There’s the possibility that realizing winging it could be very embarrassing. It may be one reason every year professional officiants get last-minute calls from couples whose hand-picked officiant backed out at the last minute.
As a wedding professional who was asked to officiate for her nephew and felt foolish afterward said, “I should have been the most logical choice for officiating since I’d been to so many weddings. But it’s a LOT harder than I thought… I’ll never do that again.”
Their daunting task
Being your hand-picked has its benefits. I’m only trying to talk you out of asking your friend to officiate for you a little bit. Bottom line — I want couples to consider if they ask someone they know to officiate for them, they realize how daunting the task may seem to the person you love and trust so much.
Creating good memories
My belief is every couple should have good memories of their ceremony. The right words and stories conveyed set the tone for the entire celebration. In these days of Covid-19, the more we can celebrate the better.
But I also want a new officiant, the person I know desires to do a great job for you, also has good memories of the ceremony they conducted for you. I prefer your friendship NOT be strained, or they got caught doing the wrong thing in a tender moment.
You don’t know what you don’t know
When you’re new, you don’t know what you don’t know. And now, for your wedding, it’s your turn to have your hand-picked officiant’s back.
There’s an easy solution. Provide your cousin, bestie, uncle, or rock star with some guidance. It’s not about dampening their unique style. IT IS about not stressing out your mutual love and affection for each other.
How to support your hand-picked officiant to do their best for you
Support your hand-picked officiant with none other than The Hand-picked Officiant’s Online Course. Start by providing them with dependable knowledge that helps them avoid the mistakes new officiants make more often than not.
There actually ARE 5 common mistakes
You have access to this handy-dandy guide I put together with the advice of dozens of other wedding professionals to help YOU help them – The 5 Common Mistakes New Officiants Make. This pdf is free. Should you decide to step up and help your hand-picked officiant not need to admit being overwhelmed or fearful s/he won’t please you, the course is only $29. The confidence you help them gain in a short period of time may set them on a new path, who knows.
Or go directly to the course by visiting Hand-Picked Officiant Course Information
Making the way to definitely know the what, when, and where of selecting a hand-picked officiant
Either way, the love you and your partner found will be led by someone you hand-picked, not only because you trust that person, but because you made it possible for s/he to definitely know what s/he is doing, when to do and where it needs to happen.
Get the download now and pass it on: – The 5 Common Mistakes New Officiants Make
And congratulations on finding the person you’ll spend the rest of your good life with.
Bio: Rev Crystal was ordained by the Unity Ministerial Education Program in 1990 where she did her first nerve-wracking wedding right out of school. She’s been officiating for over 600 couples of all lifestyles and preferences primarily since 2005. She lives with her two dogs and two cats in the beautiful northwestern tip of the mitt of Michigan. She has several online courses for officiants and provides coaching, vow-smithing, and pre-marital counseling. Visit her wedding website at www.nmiwo.com or at officianttraining.com
This article is really amazing. Thanks for the sharing.
Thanks for the update and quick reply. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on this thread. Looking for the same issue. Bumped into your thread. Thanks for creating it. Looking forward for solution.