Authored by: Rinette Emerson
September 14, 2017

Asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding ceremony sounds like a wonderful idea. A very personal and unique way to include that special someone in your big day. We get it, and appreciate the upside of including someone who has known you for many years. It’s also cheaper than hiring someone you just met. But getting a Day-of-Officiant (DoO) to perform your ceremony also comes with a lot of responsibilities and some additional stress. So, before asking your bestie to do the honors, consider the following:

1) Make sure you fully understand the many roles that a professional wedding officiant undertakes. They don’t just stand at the front and listen as you say your “I dos”. The officiant you choose will work with you to help create the wedding ceremony you have envisioned – not your parents, or friend’s ideas of what you should do. They will make suggestions which reflect your personalities, traditions and culture, lead your rehearsal and suggest new ways of engaging your guests during your ceremony. They will also ensure that all necessary forms and documents are completed and forwarded to the appropriate registrant.

2) Make sure it’s legal. Check with the Registrar in the province where you will be getting married to see the complete guidelines of what needs to be done to ensure that your DoO is licensed to solemnize your marriage. Marriage laws are governed at the provincial level, not federal, so just because Uncle Buck is licensed in one province doesn’t automatically ensure he is licensed in the city you are having your ceremony. Don’t risk something so important.
In Canada, online licensing is not an option and navigating the legal regulations can be daunting, so you might consider other options. You could have a licensed officiant witness your ceremony and declare you legally married just before your ceremony begins. Or you might consider hiring a professional to co-officiate with your DoO.
Ultimately, if your heart is set on having a DoO there are ways to make it work, and make it work well.

3) Officiating your wedding ceremony can be a nerve-wracking responsibility for your friend, so when choosing that friend consider why s/he would be a good DoO?
Have they ever officiated a wedding? Are they comfortable speaking to large groups? Can they adjust to last minute changes and handle any unexpected ceremony “malfunctions”? After all, you don’t want to put your friend in a position that would negatively impact your special day and/or your friendship.
Make sure to ask your DoO early in the planning process so that, if they don’t feel comfortable and turn you down, you have time to make other arrangements.

4) Once your friend has agreed to be your DoO the work begins. Who is going to write what’s going to be said? Do you want your DoO to write all of your ceremony or will it be a collaborative effort? How will it flow? How will you incorporate your different cultures into your ceremony? How will you keep your guests engaged during your ceremony? These are just some of the questions that need to be discussed, so don’t leave your ceremony till the end.

5) Are you planning a rehearsal and if so, who will run it? This is an ideal time for you, your wedding party and your DoO to get a feel for what it’s going to be like on your wedding day. Regardless if you have a DoO or hire a professional officiant, a rehearsal will relieve much of the stress caused by the fear of the unknown.
If you choose to have a DoO you will need to assume much more work than if you hired a professional officiant. So, thoughtfully consider why you want to have a friend officiate your ceremony.

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About the Author: Rinette Emerson

Anyone who knows me would say that I am fairly laid back, easy going and love my morning coffee. I love chocolate, preferably milk chocolate, and when time allows I enjoy painting and running.
I grew up in South Africa before moving to the UK and finally settling in Canada where I married my best friend and loudest supporter. We love to travel and would consider ourselves to be “adventurous” foodies. Enough about me, now tell me about you? You can follow her on LinkedIn.

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