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Asking a Friend or Family Member to Officiate? All The Reasons You Shouldn’t And The One Reason You Should

Will you marry us?

One doesn’t need to search hard for real wedding examples of how asking a friend to officiate a wedding ceremony can go wrong. There have been numerous articles written and horror-stories shared in wedding boards about having a Friend or Family Member officiate, and still more examples of regret that people would never share because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of someone they care about.

5 Couples Who Majorly Regretted Having a Friend Officiate Their Wedding

Top 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ask a Friend to Officiate Wedding Ceremony

My Friends Are Getting Married and I Don’t Think They Should. Help!

Eight reasons why friends or family members shouldn’t officiate your wedding ceremony

This round up by fellow celebrant Donna Forsythe is particularly illuminating...When Your Friend Officiates—What Do the Pros Have to Say?

Ash Imagery

As a professional officiant, I have the great fortune of only being at weddings where the ceremony is spectacular. But that is not the case for the majority of wedding industry professionals. In fact, two years ago, I started being approached by wedding planners, venues and other wedding professionals, asking if I would put together a ceremony ghost writing/ training/ coaching package for their clients who have asked a friend to officiate the wedding ceremony, because wedding professionals know that everything on the wedding day is affected by how the ceremony goes.

If creating a powerful ceremony moment (the genuine fairytale moment couples are imagining when they ask their friend or family member to officiate) were as easy as following a wedding board checklist, or reciting a sample script available online, then why are wedding professionals at these weddings still reporting such easily avoidable mistakes?

Well, the answer is because, creating the type of ceremony experience most people are dreaming about is harder to do than you’d think. There’s an art to performance, ceremony and communicating from the heart. And learning an art, takes time and repetition.  


Wedding Ceremony Master Class for Friend Officiants is the result of professional wedding planners, photographers, venues and videographers alerting me to the problems and dramas of so many of their weddings when a Friend or Family Member is not prepared to officiate, freezes up (or worse yet—doesn’t even show!) or makes the ceremony awkward, uncomfortable or a joke.

The biggest Pro to all those Cons, though, is when the Friend or Family Member asked to officiate does a great job, deepens the friendship and creates forever-cherished memories with the couple. A successful officiant helps people connect emotionally in that moment. A well-written and delivered ceremony helps the couple demonstrate to their community what makes them special as a couple, the WHY of it all. A moving ceremony helps everyone rally around what the couple is hoping for the future.

As an award-winning Life-Cycle Celebrant and a professional officiant, that’s the kind of experience I am delivering each time. It’s often assumed by everyone present, that I am a good friend of the couple because of the warmth I bring to the writing and delivery of a wedding ceremony. Sometimes it takes a professional to deliver the kind of ceremony experience that we hope a friend can provide. I’ve created this Wedding Ceremony Master Class to teach Friend and Family Member Officiants my process of creating those kind of powerful, moving, and memorable ceremonies where everyone leaves with “hearts filled with love.”
Love Me Do Photography

How to Officiate Your Friends' Wedding

Officiating a Friends’ Wedding? I created this online course just for you!


I've cracked the code on writing and performing meaningful and inclusive 20-minute ceremonies, and every aspiring Friend Officiant will receive my tried and true, universally appealing, Starter Ceremony, with simple, straightforward and most importantly, non-gaggy language, so that they can use the bulk of their creative efforts making that ceremony personal, charming and memorable for all the right reasons.
Pat Robinson Photography

Why Friend Officiants?

“Two years ago, I started to be approached by wedding planners and other wedding professionals, asking if I would put together a ceremony ghost writing/ training/ coaching package for their clients who have asked a friend to officiate the wedding ceremony. I know the primary appeal of having a friend officiate is that personalization is such a strong factor for today’s couple. Couples want all the pieces of their wedding to be a reflection of who they are, what their story is, and what their hopes are for the future—authentically.

Having someone who loves them in the role of officiant is a natural draw for modern couples. I get it! The problem is that even the best, most put-together-public-speaking-loving-friend, is a lay person when it comes leading the process of creating ceremony flow and content. What ends up happening is the honored friend (or worse yet, the bride!) devotes tens of hours scouring the internet for sample ceremony scripts and cobbling together official-sounding language that is NOT an authentic representation of the couple’s personality and style. Lots of times, the friend (knowing the cobbled together script is not great) panics and backs out of the responsibility close to the event date, or shows up at the wedding unprepared for day-of considerations, causing chaos—hence the requests from a handful of wedding planners to create something to help this phenomenon.

I’ve created this online Wedding Ceremony Master Class to take Friend Officiants through my process of authoring and performing a simple, genuine, memorable and meaningful ceremony. Wedding Ceremony Master Class students will receive a tried and true questionnaire to help the couple and their Friend Officiant identify important sentiments that need to be included in the ceremony, a Starter Ceremony –a framework for the Friend Officiant to work in, a demystification of what legally needs to be said/done in the ceremony, and (my favorite part!) a coaching session to help prepare the Friend Officiant to knock it out of the park."
-- Alisa Tongg, Fairy God Celebrant

The Wedding Ceremony Master Class for the Friend Officiant

Covers Three Important Aspects:

1)   Making It Legal. Although online ordination is the legal tool for the lay officiant in the majority of states, there are a handful of states where a friend who has been ordained online actually puts their friends’ marriage in legal jeopardy. Celebrant Alisa Tongg’s Wedding Ceremony Master Class will equip Friend Officiants to be able to confidently use the phrase, ‘by the authority vested in me…’”

2)   Writing a Ceremony.
 Starting with what questions to ask the couple, Wedding Ceremony Master Class will take Friend Officiants through Celebrant Alisa Tongg’s tried and true process of creating a heartfelt, simple, meaningful and appropriate ceremony that will be about 20 minutes in length.

3)   Performance-getting ready to shine. From what to wear, what’s in your hands, when a microphone is needed, an overview of the responsibilities of other wedding professionals the Friend Officiant will have to work alongside, when to collect the marriage license and a performance trick that will boost confidence right before the aisle, the final part of Wedding Ceremony Master Class will prepare Friend Officiants so they can deliver a memorable ceremony, for all the right reasons.

Wedding Ceremony Master Class is an online course that students complete at their own pace, (although I recommend that you give yourself at least 8 weeks to do the classes and complete each step in preparing for being at the end of the aisle on one of the biggest days of your Friends’ lives.)