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You guessed it. There are several downsides and many pitfalls to consider.
"Much can go wrong in the delivery of your wedding ceremony (when performed by a family friend). Even those who are proficient speakers under different circumstances may become rattled at the everyday glitches that can crop up in a wedding ceremony. Consider how your friend will do if the groom becomes emotional, the bride flubs her vows, the flower girl is whining, the musicians play the wrong selection, inclement weather conditions suddenly arise for your outdoor wedding, your feuding divorced parents refuse to sit next to one another, the microphone dies mid-sentence, or someone faints. Handling these situations requires a special set of skills. Professional officiants have "been there, done that" with every situation above and more!" - Maureen Thomson
Although it's an honor to perform a wedding ceremony, presiding over a friend or family member's wedding has its pros and cons. There are not many benefits to being married by a family friend. Someone who becomes a wedding officiant for a one-time-only wedding ceremony can cause a bride and groom a lot of stress during the planning of the wedding.
The only upside could be that they may do it for free. Free may be inviting but you usually get what you pay for. If money is an issue, cut down on some of the other wedding services, such as favors, etc., then hire a professional.
Rarely does the amateur think to provide a qualified back-up wedding officiant in the event of accident or illness. I continue to be surprised when a bride and groom call me for a "last-minute" wedding ceremony because their friend backed out at the last minute. This happens all the time as people get cold feet or egos start to clash between the couple and the officiating friend.
Most part-time officiants do not know how to construct a wedding ceremony, such as presentation protocol or the legal requirements governed by the state. Each state establishes specific criteria as to who can perform marriage ceremonies. Check the state where the marriage is taking place if it is different from where you live. In some states, your aspiring officiant must also register with the county before performing a ceremony, which sometimes requires a fee.
The amateur officiant is rarely ever able to present a plan of the important steps of the wedding ceremony to the bride and groom. Why? Because they don't know. Officiant planning and coordination with wedding vendors is crucial to the bride, groom, and those participating in the wedding.
A number of people are dependent upon the wedding officiant. In fact, wedding photographers, ceremony musicians, disc jockeys, wedding consultants, the wedding venue, etc., tell me of their dread of working with unskilled family members or friends who show up to perform the ceremony. "Hand-holding" the wedding officiant is not part of any other wedding vendor's job description.
There are so many little details to remember when putting together a wedding, it may be in your best interest to hire a wedding planner to do it for you, or at least help you. You can hire a consultant at any stage in your wedding plans, from beginning to end. She can save you the most money, time and stress in the early planning stages. Look at a consultant as a necessity, as you would regard a caterer, venue, minister or photographer. She is just as important!
Almost one-third of couples surveyed after their wedding who did not use a coordinator dearly wish they had! Some wedding consultants can be hired for the day of your wedding to help coordinate all the last-minute details.
One of the questions you should ask and amateur is, are they legally qualified to perform weddings in your state? Two other questions should be, "Do you have a ceremony prepared?" and "Do you know what legally must be in a ceremony in your state?" It is their responsibility to check the individual state laws regarding this issue. Do they know the tone that you want for your ceremony? Some couples do not regularly attend a church or synagogue and will want to have final say over the spiritual content in their ceremony.
Do they know about music, scripture readings, poems, vows and wedding traditions. Have they ever created an order of events for the ceremony to follow so both the minister and couple knows the order that things will happen. Do they know how to lead a rehearsal if there is no wedding coordinator available? What about a back-yard wedding rehearsal?
You should also note that some religious denominations will not recognize a marriage performed by someone ordained outside the faith; so, although you may be legally married, your church may not acknowledge it.
Someone from Chicago wrote: "I went to one wedding where the groom's brother married the couple, and it was more like a drawn-out reception speech (complete with a dirty joke thrown in) than a wedding ceremony. Whatever you do, just make sure the person you choose has a clear idea of the atmosphere you're looking for, and consider creating an outline for him/her to follow."
Just to clear things up. . . getting an online ordination is perfectly legal in the state of Arizona. The hard part is finding a "qualified" wedding officiant with an online ordination who has the experience in performing ceremonies that will keep you from experiencing all the things that go wrong with an amateur. Be very careful to hire someone who can give you excellent references . If they cannot provide references. . . find someone else.
There are two important areas of your wedding celebration where price should never be a factor. A mediocre Minister and a unenthusiastic DJ can wreak havoc at your wedding. A lackluster minister with a boring ceremony like most of the others you've heard can leave the guests cold and uninspired and if the DJ isn't a true "entertainer " the party can crash and burn. Your wedding reception DJ should be considered your entertainment director. A great DJ determines whether your reception is a hit or a miss! The minister and the DJ should be the very best you can hire. I know it's cliche, but you really do get what you pay for.
Perhaps the primary deciding factor should be who performs the most memorable and unique wedding ceremony for you and your guests and what other extras do they offer in their package that other ministers do not. You will enjoy the comfort and assurance of knowing you are contracting with a first-class minister who comes with professional experience, impeccable integrity, commendable references, a gentle and enthusiastic spirit and a subtle, but delightful sense of humor (Hmmm, sounds like a description of Larry James).
This is your very special day. It will only happen once. I would never recommend that you make your decision on price alone. There are numerous other areas that you can cut back on when the $$s are tight. The ideal Officiant is not only someone who is important to the bride and groom, but is articulate and capable of handling such an important event.
There are many ways to accomplish a memorable wedding ceremony that makes everyone happy. A full-time wedding minister or officiant knows all the ins and outs of the wedding business.
I had a couple call recently and forfeited their deposit so that the groom's uncle who had never performed a wedding ceremony and insisted on being the wedding officiant could perform the ceremony. The bride confided to me that this was not what she really wanted but bowed to the pressure of the uncle rather than unset the uncle. How sad. Your wedding is YOUR wedding, not your uncles, your mothers or anyone else.
Perhaps the best advice is to find a truly great officiant or minister who can help you with this process: one who be the perfect combo of thoughtful adviser, skilled writer, excellent public speaker and who will keep your stress level as low as possible. Personal touches and light humor by the minister are a great way to add even more personality to your ceremony.
Believe me, you will sleep better and have much less stress show up as you plan your wedding if you shell out the $$$'s to hire a full-time wedding minister ; someone who will perform for you and your fiance a personalized, unique and memorable ceremony you will always treasure.
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