If you’re part of a church and your bestie youth minister from growing up is now the pastor and kills it at wedding ceremonies, then picking your officiant is easy. If you’ve been drinking Manischewitz at shabbat with the same rabbi for years, then you’ve got the officiant thing all figured out.
Though if you, much to your 2nd cousin’s dismay, are not getting married in a place of worship, how the heck do you find someone to usher you into lawfully wedded bliss?
I should start by saying that every state has different rules and regulations about who can and can’t officiate a wedding ceremony (though a staggering zero have anything to say about a boat captain performing the auspicious task). Every state is different so google it, but know that whomever you want to do the ceremony, there’s a way to figure it out.
Here’s my one request: please don’t get on the interwebs and type in “wedding officiants” into the search bar and find a random person to come quote the Velveteen Rabbit and pronounce you forever together. You probably also don’t want to ask your one friend who will just tell college glory stories about your best bro-ship and how drunk you were that one weekend you fell into the lake in a polar bear costume. C’mon now. This is a wedding — It’s serious business we’re talking about here.
I’m willing to bet my hard earned Harriet Tubmans that you’ve got a friend that knows and loves you two as a couple, that has that brilliant mix of wisdom and wit, and would be greatly humbled and honored to help put together a ceremony that ushers you into happily ever after-dom. Your wedding officiant doesn’t need to be a paternal figure spouting untruisms about what how hard marriage can be but you just have to work through it, dammit. It doesn’t need to be someone who has done thousands of ceremonies in the past. It doesn’t even need to be someone who knows about marriage at all. It just needs to be someone who gets it.
A good officiant will take what she knows about the two of you, about your story, about how you two souls have come to find love and happiness in each others’ arms, and connect it with the larger concept that love and marriage is perhaps the most noble of human endeavors.
So sit down. Talk to each other. Give a shit about who officiates your wedding. Name some names. Laugh about some and get excited about others. Find someone you respect, who loves you two, who can tell a good story, and who will put together a few words commemorating this big friggin’ deal known as marriage.