Melissa Mullen Photography Blog » Maine Wedding and Portrait Photography : New England & Beyond

Friend or Family Member Officiate Your Wedding Ceremony


Asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding ceremony?  Awesome!  

I’ve noticed this has become a very unique trend.  Having the officiant be someone who knows and fully supports your relationship day to day, marry you, is really special.  This is usually someone who doesn’t have any experience with officiating a wedding.  Can you imagine doing something this big for the first time without having any idea of all the things that could come up?  We’ve all been to a wedding so we know how it’s supposed to go but there are so many elements that make a great ceremony.

I’ve seen GREAT ceremonies performed by chosen friends and family.  Bravo to them!  As the photographer, there are many key moments throughout the ceremony that are MUST HAVES.  I have experienced several ceremonies now where because of the lack of experience of the officiant some of these moments fell short.  For example:

First of all, it take GUTS to be the person up there saying the words that binds two worlds legally together.  I get that.  I know that public speaking is HARD and nerve wracking.  BUT in the case of marrying folks, staying present is soooooo important.

1. One ceremony, the gentlemen marrying the couple, got so wrapped up in what HE was supposed to do, he forget to tell the guests to have a seat once the bride came down and her father gave her away.  The guests were left standing, not sure what to do and looking around for answers.  I was in the back of the aisle and one person looked at me like, “WHAT DO WE DO, SAVE US!?”  I just did a motion with my hand that yes, you can sit.  The officiant then realized that he had forgotten them completely because they were all shuffling to sit down.  It was humorous but also breaks the present moment and took focus off of what was important.

2.  Nervous gentlemen #2, mumbled that they may kiss.  The couple didn’t really hear what he said and then realized OH, we can kiss.  But it was awkward and fast.  Sad face photographer when it’s not a clear to the couple what’s going on.  The kiss is SO important.  It’s sealing the deal and what carries the story into the next scene.

3.  Gentlemen #3 forgot to have the couple exchange rings.

There isn’t anything other vendors can do when an inexperienced officiant makes a move that really makes our jobs harder.  We can’t stop the show and say, wait a minute, excuse me but that wasn’t really clear what you said and was confusing, could we do that again??  This is a one time, make it the best it can possibly be moment.

I’ve had these thoughts and have kept them to myself.  Part of my job is to go with the flow.  No matter what happens, the story will unfold and it is what it is.  However, I’m one who will always want MORE and the BEST for my clients.  So, in walks, Lauren Snead of Rhythm & Light Ceremonies.  She was referred to me by one of my favorite Portland, Maine women, Lael Jepson of SheChanges.  Lauren and I gathered at a coffee shop on Munjoy Hill and she dazzled my world by sharing her story.  She’s an officiant and she also works with people who have been asked to marry someone.  She coaches people so that when the day comes, they have the tools and are prepared to deliver a powerful ceremony.  She really takes the time to get to know the couple and asks questions that lead to a more meaningful ceremony.  Wahoooo!!

This is all music to my ears and I’m thrilled to know that there is someone out there that can HELP my clients have the BEST ceremony if they choose to ask a friend of family member officiate their wedding ceremony.  Lauren recently posted a blog post that touches on this topic.  The title: “How to fully prepare your friend/family member turned officiant to deliver an engaging and memorable wedding ceremony.”

Hello!  Perfect!  I invite you to read her post and share this with anyone who you know needs this information.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know that Lauren exists.




“Rhythm & Light Ceremonies takes a unique approach to designing ceremonies for a variety of life events including weddings, baby blessings, vow renewals, adoptions, life celebrations and more! Through a series of powerful questions, face to face meetings, and in depth conversations, we will work together to create a vibrant, heartfelt and original ceremony that is powered by you! Rhythm & Light Ceremonies was founded in 2013 by Lauren Snead, Designer, Officiant & Coach. “
I hope this post will help someone out there!
xoxo . . .


  • Meg Simone Wedding Films

    Personalized ceremonies officiated by friends can be so emotional and heartwarming. However, twice last year I had to motion to the officiating friend to have the guests sit down. The guests are often looking around at the other wedding professionals, just like you said “HELP US, what do we do?” This a great read loaded with helpful links and resources to help plan the best possible ceremony for you and your other half 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing Melissa 🙂

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