We recently got this question from an Offbeat Bride named Samantha:
Hello, I was wondering about tips for people who don’t want to have an officiant.
As in, we get married legally beforehand, and then we’re having the wedding afterwards.
In this Coronavirus era, where many couples are choosing to elope or have microweddings out of concern for not wanting to gather in large groups, we’re likely going to be seeing lots of these kinds of questions.
There are going to be lots of folks who get legally married in 2020 for all sorts of reasons, who then are looking for ways to celebrate with their communities once it’s safer to do so… hopefully that’s this year!
Here at Offbeat Bride, we’ve long had a word for this kind of thing: GETTING WEDDINGED! This is the cheeky phrase we use for having something that looks like a wedding, after you’ve already gotten legally married.
A few of our favorite examples of “getting weddinged” that we’ve featured over the years…
As you can see, there are a ton of different ways to “get weddinged.” Technically, these events are really just a wedding reception… Samantha is right that you don’t need an officiant in any legal capacity.
That said, couples who decide to have a ceremony component at their celebrations often choose to have someone acting as an officiant, but it’s more just to have someone MCing the ceremony. Whoever is officiating does not need to be officially ordained… nor do you actually need to have a ceremony component at all!
Really, “getting weddinged” can look like anything you want it to. You could structure the day just like a wedding, but with a friend officiating instead of an ordained minister. Alternately, you can structure it more like a reception — you’re just hosting the big party part of the wedding, without the ceremonial part.
The only real etiquette issue is being clear with guests about what the event is and what to expect. Some folks are very sensitive about thinking an event is a “real wedding,” only to later learn that the legal ceremony had already happened. This gets into some weird cultural baggage around legality, what “a real wedding” even means, and the whole ugly concept of gift grabs… but the main thing you need to know is that it’s important to be very clear in your invitation about what the event is.
Are you that friend who officiates all your friends’ weddings? You’re the one who’s not afraid of public speaking, who knows how to hold the space for ceremony with both a lighthearted smile and a firm hand? You’re the friend officiant who knows how to jike with the guests, but also can be sacred and serious face when needed? Maybe you did theater in college, or you’re a lawyer, or you’re just good at this sort of thing. Whatever: you’re the friend officiant.
Over the years, we’ve shared all sorts of advice for how to officiate a friend’s wedding, but if you’re someone who friend officiates multiple weddings, here’s one mistake you DON’T want to make. This was shared by an Offbeat Bride named Bobie Jo:
Just make sure you UPDATE the script from last time!!!! My bestie was my officiant, and she used the same script she read at her brother’s wedding… During my wedding, she used her brother’s wife’s name instead of mine!!!!
Good thing I still think it’s hilarious and didn’t push her off the dock we were on…
So, this is a simple reminder to everyone who’s friend officiating more than one wedding: do a quick document find-and-replace for the the names of your previous couple, and confirm that you’ve swapped in the new couples’ names! It only takes a minute, and it’ll save you from some major embarrassment on the day-of!
Need more tips for officiating a friend’s wedding? We gotchoo!
So you’ve been asked to officiate a friend’s wedding. Congratulations! Even if you’re someone used to exciting things happening all over the universe, someone like, say, Darth Vader — that’s still pretty excited! That said, unless you’ve done this before, you’re probably a little overwhelmed… never fear! We’ve got step by step advice for how to officiate a friend’s wedding — complete with links to TONS of wedding ceremony scripts.
Step 1: Know the laws in your region
[clicylink slug=officiating-your-friends-wedding]Every city and state has different laws when it comes to who can officiate a wedding. Our Offbeat Bride City Guides: the nitty-gritty of how to get married in your city: Atlanta • Chicago • Dallas • DC • Houston • LA • NYC • Philly • SF • Seattle
So the first thing you need to figure out is how to order the different aspects of the ceremony. You need to make sure you’ve gotten a lot of input from the couple you’re marrying — they may have a LOT of ideas for you. If they don’t, here are some questions to ask them:
What are your priorities?
Do you want the ceremony to have a theme?
How long you want your ceremony to be? (Tell them they don’t feel pressured to have a long ceremony if they’re not into being the center of attention!)
Are you interested in traditional elements?
How much humor do you want?
Ask the couple to save every snippet! If they see a song lyric, a line in a poem, an excerpt from a short story, or even a quote on Instagram (we all fall for them), tell them to save it! This can help your friends shape their ideas and even give you some highlights to fill in your general structure. You might even want to ask them to check out our ceremony scripts, and ceremony advice and wedding planning basics if they seem super lost.
Now, what if your couple is like “Meh, you can do whatever you want,” and you’re like “Oh shit, I have no idea, where is Admiral Motti when I need him”?? We’ve got great posts to get you started:
This is where things get really fun. You can peruse or straight-up steal from our every-growing tag full of ceremony scripts. That said, here are some of our very favorites for you to borrow from:
Step 5: Sign and returns the marriage license!
After the wedding, it’s YOUR JOB to send the signed marriage license and return it to the state within the required timeline. Don’t forget this very important part of your responsibilities or else your friends’ marriage won’t be legal.