Having A Friend Officiate Your Wedding

Ever since the episode of Friends where Joey got ordained to perform Chandler and Monica’s wedding, it’s become more and more of a trend. In Oregon, very few couples opt to get married in a church or to have a religious ceremony.

More couples are writing their own vows, opting for non traditional ceremonies blending their own relationship, personal values and personalities. We have several phenomenal local officiants who will perform your ceremony for you and help guide you through the process of creating a custom ceremony. But if you have a friend you really want to perform your ceremony and they agree – what next?

Step 1: Get Ordained

A lot of rumors float around on this subject, but the facts are if you live in Oregon and you believe you were legally married, the courts will most likely consider you married. But please do it right! It’s easy to do. I recommend getting ordained online. It takes five minutes and is 100% legal for you to perform a wedding in Oregon if you do.

I say this as an ordained Minister of two years. All wedding planners should be ordained, just in case. It’s a great backup plan. I chose The Universal Life Church. It’s super easy, free unless you opt for upgrades like fancy certificates and a book that teaches you how to perform a ceremony.

Step 2: Planning the ceremony

There are parts to a ceremony. Depending on religion or non denominational type of ceremony you are doing, everything from the processional, to where people sit or stand, has meaning. If you are doing a common non-traditional ceremony, plan to have the bride and her immediate family on the left and the groom and his family on the right. Guest seating can still be open, and usually is mixed.

Here’s a general order of a typical wedding ceremony you can omit or change it up any way you want:

  1. The Processional – we already covered this in a previous post
  2. Welcoming Comments – most people do not give anyone away anymore. If you do wish to do any form of that this will happen right at the end of the processional. Immediately after the officiant welcomes everyone and gives a brief personalized thank you to everyone there to witness this awesome event – if they haven’t yet, remind them to please be seated before you get too far.
  3. The next part I like to call The Officiant Explains It All – This is where having a close friend or loved one Officiate, pays off! The best ceremonies I’ve seen have been a long Mass by an amazing Priest in Little Italy, San Diego in 1998, next was a wedding last year performed by The Matron Of Honor’s Father (a first timer), and Rabi Brian had everyone laughing through a ceremony we did in 2017. There are a million ways to engage the crowd, tell the couple’s personal story and explain the importance of why you’re all here today. The priest gave a speech about the realities, trials and beauty of marriage. I actually sobbed because nothing had ever connected with me more about the importance of marriage – it was beautiful and perfect. The friend wedding was so personal. We learned their love story, his ideas on love and his praises for them as a couple, again, I cried it was fantastic. The best part, he didn’t know how to do this before we talked and all I did was give him a few basic pointers and guidelines. The key is make it personal! Rabi Brian is just brilliant, fun, and great at getting to know his couples and it is engaging for the people there to watch.
  4. Exchanging Your Vows – This is where one can have a traditional do you vow to do x.y.z. And you say “I do”, or as is more common today, you can write your own vows to exchange. Don’t wait to start writing your vows. You don’t want to offend your future spouse by winging it. Tips for writing good vows – be very personal. Tell each other when you knew, how you knew, and why and what you will do from now until eternity to be by each other’s side. It doesn’t have to be long. It shouldn’t be too short. And it should take some time to edit, rewrite or reorganize. As one who majored in English and took creative writing courses I can tell you the best writing comes from what you know, feel passionately about, and revisit several times to get it just right.
  5. Exchanging Rings – if you are doing a ring warming ceremony, start the process at the end of the part where your officiant explains it all. The significance of a ring is it is continuous and has no beginning and no end. It’s not important to focus hard on the significance of a ring. You can say more words as you place the ring on each other’s fingers. Most commonly people say “With this ring, I thee wed.” But you can say anything, “With this ring, I ask you to be mine.” – Victor Van Dort
  6. Asserting Your Authority To Pronounce This Officially – here’s where the magic happens! Your ordained status comes in handy officially and this wedding is legit! Anything from “By the power given to me by the mighty internet and the state of Oregon, I now pronounce you …”
  7. The Only Time Everyone Is Excited For The PDA – You kiss, it can be sweet and soft, sweeping and romantic, you do you!
  8. Final Words Announcements and Directions For Guests, A Toast, A Prayer, Clapping, All Of The Above.
  9. Recessional.

Step 3. Sign The Marriage License

If you haven’t read our blog post on how to make it legal, do that. Once you’re ceremony is over you have to take a moment with your best people (witnesses) and officiant to sign the license. You may have a fancy keepsake Marriage Certificate that you can keep, but you also have the official document you got from The County Clerk in the state you are marrying in. Sign these! Get pics. It’s a cool moment.

Step 4. Send The Documents In!

Read the directions for sending the docs in. Some areas require you to go in, usually you just need to mail them in within 3-5 business days. Don’t mess this up. If you have questions call the local County Clerk’s Office and ask. It’s usually very simple and self-explanatory.

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