I know no one reading this blog post has ever thought of asking their friend to marry them right? But just in case you are trying to cut corners in this area, let me share with you a few reasons why that's not such a great idea.
SCENARIO: Your'e trying to save money and you want to DIY as much as you can - I get that. You have a ton of people to feed at the reception, the venue is costing you $10K, you still need to hire a photographer, DJ, photo booth, order the cake, flowers, pay for hair and makeup for you and your fifteen bridesmaids and you wanted to be even more generous and pay for your bridesmaids dresses, jewelry and shoes. I understand. Somehow you ended up $11K over budget and you're trying to think of ways to cut back and you get this bright idea to ask your friend to perform the ceremony for free instead of hiring a professional officiant. Believe it or not this scenario is more common than you think.
I haven't figured out yet why a couple would want to cut corners on the most important person who needs to be at the ceremony - the minister. After all, when you break down the costs of each vendor, the officiant is probably already the least expensive. Here in the Houston area I've seen Officiant services range from $50 to $375 to perform a ceremony. In other areas of the country such as New York and New Jersey for example, I've seen the prices for an officiant range from $450 - $1400 to perform a ceremony.
So why is it so important to actually hire a professional and not your friend? Let's take a look at a few reasons:
A Professional Wedding Officiant is going to have the knowledge required to facilitate the ceremony. What knowledge you ask? There are specific components and elements that are required when performing a ceremony that make the marriage legal. If these components are not "performed" during the ceremony, you will not be legally married.
A Professional Wedding Officiant is often the next go-to person for guidance if there is no Wedding Coordinator or DOC (Day of Coordinator). I can't tell you how many times the family has asked me who should walk down the aisle first, where should everyone stand, should the bride be on the left or on the right side, etc. A professional will be able immediately step into this role if needed.
A Professional Wedding Officiant is going to be someone who has a contract for their services which include terms and policies for any type of cancellations (i.e. weather related, illness, etc.).
A Professional Wedding Officiant will be able to think quick on their feet and react accordingly if any mishaps were to occur or unexpected changes happen. For example: I performed a ceremony and everything went as planned until the very end. I had already pronounced the couple husband and wife and I began to hear someone whisper, "the broom, the broom." Well...I was not informed that the couple wanted to "jump the broom", this was not discussed or rehearsed. No worries. Since I'm a Professional Wedding Officiant, I knew exactly what jumping the broom was all about and I was able to quickly adjust and the couple jumped the broom before they made their exit down the aisle. What would your friend have done in that situation?
A Professional Wedding Officiant is under obligation to show up at the wedding to perform the ceremony. You have signed the contract, paid the costs, discussed your expectations and approved the wedding ceremony script. Unfortunately sometimes our friends flake out on us and because they are not being paid as a professional they don't always act like a professional, they act like a friend.
If your friend doesn't follow through on the agreement of doing the wedding ceremony you are literally stuck. Without the minister you can't legally be married. Also, you have jeopardized your friendship.
These are just a few reasons to hire a professional and not your friend. If you need to cut back on costs, cut back on that guest list, food, alcoholic beverages, don't do favors or programs either. Get married during the week or on a Sunday. You'll save thousands!
I hope this post has given you something to think about as you plan your wedding and you get in a bind with your budget. Drop your questions or feedback in the comment section below.
All the best!