How to Ask Someone to Officiate Your Wedding
By Wedding Spot
Inviting friends and family to participate in your wedding party is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. It's an opportunity to shower the ones you love with affection and gratitude, and show them how much they mean to you. Every person in your wedding party — from the Maid of Honor to the ring bearer — plays a significant role in the big day, with the officiant having the special honor of performing the ceremony. If you’re interested in having a loved one perform the ceremony and are wondering how to ask someone to officiate your wedding, we can help.
In this blog post, we take a deep dive into the wedding officiant process as a whole. Whether you're asking a life-long soul sister, a brother, or a teacher, we will help you figure out how to “pop the question” to your future officiant.
Discover how to ask someone to officiate your wedding
The role of a wedding officiant is much more than asking the wedding couple to repeat, “I do.” The officiant leads the wedding, and the choice you make will directly impact the overall flow and feel of the ceremony.
The role of a wedding officiant
A wedding officiant helps set the tone for the big day. They engage with guests, bring everyone together, and perform the wedding ceremony. Whether a wedding is religious or secular, an officiant is legally required to perform a wedding ceremony in the U.S. You technically can’t get married without one!
In addition to leading the ceremony, a wedding officiant may also be responsible for signing the marriage license alongside newlyweds and then sending the certificate to the court for proper documentation and legal confirmation.
Prior to the wedding ceremony, officiants typically meet with engaged couples to prepare their preferred ceremony materials and review the wedding order of events. Some officiants help couples prepare their vows, select music for the ceremony, or even provide relationship counseling to start couples off on the right foot.
Who can be a wedding officiant?
In the United States, the laws that govern which people hold the power to officiate a wedding differ from state to state. State laws may allow justices of the peace and members of religious clergies, such as priests, rabbis, or ministers, to legally perform wedding ceremonies. In other states, certain notary republics are also granted that power. In some states, including Tennessee and Ohio, the mayor of a town may officiate weddings located anywhere in their respective county.
In many states, it is relatively easy to become licensed as a wedding officiant, even if not part of the church or local political structure. Many locations require ordainment to meet the standard of becoming a legal officiant, but not all do. There are a few states, however, where it is quite difficult to become a legally-recognized officiant. Arkansas, Massachusetts, and West Virginia have some of the strictest authorizing laws for officiants in the country.
Depending on where the wedding is taking place, there may be legal penalties for performing a marriage ceremony without meeting the lawful ordainment requirements. These penalties can include stiff fines or even jail time.
If you are looking for a professional officiant, always double-check their credentials, but you can rest assured that most reviewed officiants will be “up to code.” For couples interested in asking a friend or family member to officiate, however, it's important to know all of the state, town, and country marriage laws for the location the wedding is taking place. The last thing you want is to ask someone to be your officiant who can't actually be your officiant. Check out websites like getordained.org to make sure that you're good to go well before the big day.
Asking the right person to officiate your wedding
Learning how to ask someone to officiate your wedding is important and should not be taken lightly. When you ask someone to officiate your wedding, you're also asking them to take on a great deal of responsibility. If you already have someone in mind for the job, make sure they're a good fit before asking. Ask yourself the following questions for guidance.
- Are you and your partner in agreement? Disagreeing on the person marrying you is probably not the best way to kick off a marriage. Both parties should sign off on potential officiants before the position is discussed with anyone in particular.
- How easy will it be to keep in touch? Soon-to-be newlyweds will need to meet with their officiant prior to the big day to discuss specifics and rehearse the ceremony. Make sure the person you ask will be available to prepare for the wedding ceremony ahead of time.
- Are you asking someone reliable and responsible? Engaged couples place a lot of trust in their officiant to be the leader of the wedding, and asking an unpredictable or unreliable loved one to fulfill the duty could cause headaches down the line. Before asking a friend or family member to officiate, ask yourself, “Will they follow through, or will I need to chase them down constantly?” Entrust officiant duties to a dependable and dedicated individual.
- Will asking this person cause unintentional drama? Does this person have conflicts with members of the wedding party? Will asking one person cause someone else to feel left out or overlooked? At the end of the day, couples should plan a wedding that makes them happy; that's really all that matters. If potential wedding-related chaos can be avoided, however, we always recommend taking steps to do it!
- Do they have a great personality? A successful wedding officiant is usually confident and charismatic. They know how to work a room and are comfortable speaking in front of crowds. A great officiant commands attention; not with authority, but with their magnetic presence. Do you have a close friend, family member, or mentor that fits the bill? They may have the makings of an excellent wedding officiant. A wedding officiant with stage fright is a definite showstopper (and not in a good way). If you have an officiant in mind that’s on the shy side, they may be uncomfortable speaking in front of your wedding guests. Keep their comfort in mind when asking them to officiate, encourage honesty in their answer, and show understanding if they're not as excited about the idea as you are.
The name of your wedding officiant will forever be on your marriage license. Your officiant will be in photos, your wedding video, and in your memories, so think carefully before asking a friend or family member — especially if your relationship is particularly combative.
Explore 11 ways to ask someone to officiate your wedding
Whether asking someone to officiate a wedding virtually, by mail, or in person, you should get creative with your request. Here are a few ideas that we absolutely love.
1. Propose to your officiant.
The wedding proposals are not over quite yet. Ask someone to officiate your wedding by proposing to them! Instead of asking, “Will you marry me,” ask “Will you marry us?”
American Marriage Ministries offers a “Will you marry us?” ordination package that includes a redemption code for online ordination, a minister’s manual, and gifts for the recipient.
2. Plan an intimate visit to a sentimental location.
Is there a special place you and your potential officiant share? Does a specific pier, overlook, restaurant, landmark, or other location hold a noteworthy place in your heart?
Have a picnic, take a hike, or do something you both love together. Share why the location means so much to you when making the request and create a brand new memory in a remarkable place.
3. Give a gift of friendship or appreciation.
Show your potential wedding officiant how much they mean to you with a sentimental or personalized gift. The gift can be presented at an in-person meeting where you ask your loved one to officiate, be shipped, or hand-delivered (depending on your choice of gift).
Tip: Consider asking a shy, introverted person to officiate in writing or with a gift delivery. Asking face-to-face could make them feel pressured to accept in the moment and end up leading to a less-than-ideal wedding ceremony.
4. Make a formal request with a letter of love.
Write a letter that expresses how you feel about the recipient and explain why you think they're the perfect person to marry you.
Take time with your penmanship and write clearly. The recipient of this letter may want to display it in an album or place it in a sentimental keepsake box as a lovely reminder of your relationship.
5. Craft the question on a cake.
Contact local bakeries and tell them the idea. They may have cake or wedding cupcake ideas perfect for the occasion.
6. Take your unofficial officiant out on the town.
Hit the streets for a night of adventure with your future wedding officiant to make it official. You’ll be ready to let loose, dance, and celebrate after your proposal is accepted.
7. Engrave the message on a keepsake.
Personalized keepsakes are perfect gifts for wedding party members, and the same goes for officiants. Check out the “Engraved Officiant” category on Etsy for inspiration. From leather journals and pocket watches to engraved wine bottles and glasses, there are engraved officiant gifts to fit every style.
8. Commission personalized artwork from a local artist.
Are you asking an art lover to officiate your wedding? If so, consider giving them a gift they will genuinely appreciate that also supports the local art scene — a one-of-a-kind piece. Commission a painting of a place your potential officiant loves, memorialize a cherished photo in graphite, or work with an artist to develop a design that matches your friend or family member’s unique style.
9. Don’t say it; sing it!
Propose to your wedding officiant in a song. Get your partner to participate in a chipper performance and go all out with the production! Add costumes, instruments, and whatever props you want. Record the song or perform it live (if you're brave) and give your officiant the gift of a life-long memory.
10. Video chat with a long-distance loved one.
Does the person you want to officiate live far away? Don’t feel guilty if you have to ask someone to officiate your wedding over Zoom or Facetime. Simply follow up with a card or gift to say, “Thank you.”
11. Share a laugh with a punny card.
We’re big fans of a good pun, especially if it helps manage wedding planning stress. Try asking someone to officiate your wedding with a funny card.
Ask with a clever quip or fun pun:
- “This knot couldn’t get tied without you!”
- “By the power vested in you by the internet…”
- “FREE BEER! Now that we have your attention…”
Depending on your personal style, and the relationship you have with the person in mind, you can pop the question however you want. Pose the question casually or through an over-the-top gesture; it’s completely up to you!
Hiring a professional officiant
Couples interested in hiring a professional officiant for the big day should start with their closest resources — their wedding planning team. Are you working with a local wedding planner? Most wedding planners have a trusted network of resources and professionals they call upon regularly and trust. Ask your wedding planner or the venue manager who they recommend. As industry professionals, they will have first-hand knowledge to share with you.
There are also online directories available to help hands-on couples planning their own wedding find a professional officiant. WeddingOfficiants.com is an online directory couples can use to find officiants in their area. American Marriage Ministries also has an online directory of ordained ministers for your convenience. Use the AMM Ordained Minister Search to find an ordained officiant that services the region where your wedding is taking place.