October is a month characterized by spooks and scares. I see it as a fitting month for wedding planning. Every choice that needs to be made haunts me.


Each locked-in decision is followed by a period of second-guessing, distinguished by worrying that something better might come along, wondering if the same exact thing might come along in a better price range, or thinking I may like whatever I’m deciding on at that very moment, but absolutely despise it in eight months.

However, I can unequivocally stand behind one decision that Fiance and I have made so far: hiring our best friend to be our officiant.

Religion has not factored prominently in our lives, and Fiance and I agreed that a secular ceremony would be most appropriate for tying the knot. We had only started looking into our options for officiants when our closest friend mentioned, in a not-entirely-unrelated conversation, that she was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church. We couldn’t think of anybody more perfect to preside over our nuptials.

Internet ordination is fairly commonplace these days; in fact, a number of websites provide simple instructions to vest anybody with “the power” to pronounce you husband and wife. We had known at least three other couples who were married by friends in the past, and all enjoyed the extra personal touches added by their officiants.

Fiance and I have been friends with our minister since the very beginning, as she was our supervisor while we were employed in student housing ten years ago. Without her, Fiance and I may never have met. She played a signficant role in the proposal, showing up to decorate our car and be the first to celebrate with us after our jubilant hike down the mountain. The entertaining tales of our adventures together may provide long-lasting fuel for our ceremony, and will help make it an unforgettable experience. Our ability to customize this part of our wedding day, however, adds another layer of decision-making that those who go the religious route may not have to face:

1. Direction: As she’s a rookie reverend, we’ll need to spend some time with My Friend the Minister to provide direction as to how we want the ceremony to flow. A few of her original ideas included utilizing a laser pointer to lure our cat, to whom the rings would be attached, down the aisle right before we say our vows (vetoed) and having a few close friends perform readings of our choice (love it).

2. Legality: Unfortunately, the state in which we are to be married does not officially recognize marriages performed by internet ordained ministers, rendering our ceremony more theatrical than anything else. We’ll have to follow up with something more state sanctioned as indicated by this website.

3. Garb: My Friend the Minister wants to wear flowing purple robes and a hat in which doves are encased to be released following the ceremony. We suggested a simple black dress with modest accessories would be sufficient.

Who is officiating for your wedding? Have you been to a wedding ceremony delivered by a friend or family member of the bride and groom? What did you think? Leave a comment and share your experiences and suggestions!