How to Have a Loved One Officiate Your Wedding

For our clients seeking a relaxed wedding ceremony, or one that may feel more individualized and intimate, asking a loved one or family acquaintance to officiate your ceremony is a great way to create a deeply personal setting. Over the years we have worked with so many officiants close to our clients, including siblings, parents, mentors, and friends, to name a few. There are so many upsides to this; a family member or friend who truly knows you will be able to speak to the stories, experiences, and love that exists in your partnership. It is also the greatest gift you can give a friend or family member, and if able, that individual will absolutely jump on the opportunity to be a part of something so special. So you’ve decided this route appeals to you. What are the next steps to kicking this off?

First and foremost it is so important to give this individual as much advance notice as you can. There is a lot of prep that goes into crafting a ceremony, and if this is your friend’s first time officiating a wedding, they’ll need the time to prepare. Once they’ve accepted, we recommend setting up a time to discuss the responsibilities involved to make sure they are aware of what they are committing to. The most important of these responsibilities include being able to communicate and work with you, honor your wishes for the ceremony, and trusting that they will own this role and be there on the wedding day. Once everyone is on the same page, these three key areas should be discussed:

  1. How do you want your ceremony to make you feel?
  2. What things do you want to share (and maybe not share) during your ceremony?
  3. How do we make it legally binding?

Katie & Sean | PM Photo MKE

The Feel

With this area, we ask our couples to envision they are in….the moment. At the altar, holding hands, in front of your loved ones, while being guided through your vows. What color tone is this moment? Do you want to laugh? Are there a few jokes? Do you prefer a short and sweet rhythm? Do you want to be reminded of your commitment or have an anecdote shared? Establish with your officiant the sentiment of that moment, and if you are open to surprises, or wish to have a pre-approved script. Keep in mind you may find butterflies and nerves in full force, and maybe a joke or well-timed story may be the thing you need to feel most comfortable or keep you in the moment.

To Share or Not to Share

While crafting your ceremony script together it’s likely you will start with the stories that define your relationship, such as how you met or when you knew you found ‘the one’. Your officiant may or may not know the intimate details of these stories, and it’s important to discuss what details you are comfortable being shared and which you prefer remaining private. This is extremely helpful for your officiant to understand what boundaries need to be respected, and what areas are fair game. Once you’ve covered these finer details, you can begin to sift through the elements of your relationship you wish to surface in your ceremony and let the script take shape from there.


Isabella & Larry | Santiago Murillo Photography

Making it Official – an important step to say the least 🙂 Here is a breakdown of what this process generally can look like:  

And there you have it! This family member or friend will be forever linked to your union. Remember to share your appreciation with your officiant during your downtime after the wedding — a heartfelt thank you and gift (perhaps a framed photo of the ceremony) is a great way to let them know “we couldn’t do this without you!”

A couple just married at the altar, having been officiated by a friend or relative.

Caitlin & Ben | Meghan Lee Harris