Rules for Being a Wedding Officiant
I officiated for my cousin’s wedding. I am not ordained, nor am I registered to be an officiant.
Instead, I told the happy couple I would like to officiate their wedding without taking any of the rules and regulations into account. The mother-of-the-bride (my aunt) told me of her daughter’s hesitation with all the officiants she had met. The bride was worried the ceremony was going to feel impersonal and forced and she’s a casual girl who just happens to be a brilliant scientist we thought we’d have to marry off to her horse before she met her husband. She’s complicated. This was a bigger decision than taking Latin as an elective in first year Bio-Chem (who does that?)
After the bride screamed, “YES!” when I asked if she wanted me to perform the ceremony, I told her to talk it over with her partner and get back to me. I was proud she’d already mastered the art of speaking for both of them, so it gave me great comfort in the strength of their relationship.
They discussed it and she relayed the message that I was to officiate their wedding. Then I had to figure out how to do that.
In Canada, you can’t register online for $42 and become a wedding officiant. They say the easiest way to do it is to work for the government as a municipal clerk or, become a lawyer. We have Ford in power (Trump’s poorer cousin) so working for the government would be less than ideal. As for the lawyer thing, sure, that does make it sound easy, but I’ve met lawyers who seem to think otherwise. Blah blah, years of school, blah blah, article something or other, blah blah you can’t get that done in 12 months.
I could also have become a religious officiant. You know of my recent conversion to Catholicism. The church’s view on married women as religious leaders has not yet caught up to reality so that seemed highly unlikely to work.
I did offer to attend the Ontario officiating course which is a gruelling two days on a weekend and up to $2000 with some registration costs thrown in for good measure. The couple decided to hire an actual officiant to help sign the register. She was a really generous person and allowed me to do the parts she was supposed to do, namely announce the couple and pronounce them married. (Spoiler Alert: The official officiant did those things before me but in a tiny voice while signing the register so they are legally married and not ‘Kristine married.’)
In researching what I needed to do, I found many articles like this one in the HuffPost providing couples tips on finding a wedding officiant. They suggested:
- Find someone you are comfortable with (check)
- Choose someone in your own faith (not so much)
- Consider an alternative officiant (big check)
- Be clear about what is in the ceremony (nope)
- Ask for the language you want (nope)
- Be clear on ground rules (nope)
- Make sure they can sign your license (Ha. Nope.)
- Put things in writing (nope)
- Respect (I’ll give half points on that one.)
Those all seem like perfectly lovely rules, but I made up my own because I’m not perfectly lovely.
Kristine’s 9 Rules for Being an Unofficial Wedding Officiant
- Defy the bride until she breaks down and lets you do what you want.
- Terrify the groom by saying his name wrong several times before the ceremony (Yes, even if his name is John this can be done. Yon, Johan, even Steve… you get the picture.)
- Swear a lot every time you are around the couple.
- Subtly drop this line… “Are you really sure THIS is the right guy?” Accompany this with a nod of the head towards the groom.
- Ask repeatedly when the wedding is and lament the conflicts you have to iron out, hopefully in time. “You should have told me it was next week.”
- Hand over the written sentiments the day before the ceremony in a sealed envelope asking them not to look. When they look, it will just be doodles of penises.
- Ask at what point you want the officiant to do her dance solo.
- Every time the couple offers suggestions or direction say, “Yeah, yeah, I got it,” while you wave them off and put your earphones in.
- Make it perfect, asshole, it is their wedding and it is a privilege to be part of the beginning of their lives together.
I did numbers 1, 3, 7, and, I think, 9. I did not do a dance solo, but I was tempted when the harpest started. That shit was da bomb!
If you get the chance to do this, do it! It was one of the single most important things I have ever done. My kids are first and making sure my cousin’s wedding was what they wanted to represent their life together, is something I am grateful for being a part of. Now that they are weeks from welcoming their first child, I feel honoured again to have been there at the beginning of their family. Yes, I am that important. Remember that “Steve.”
Thank you both for honouring me with this responsibility Shay, Mark/Steve/Dave/Bob/John 😉 and baby Mia (did I guess right that time?)
All my love,
(PS: They’ve been married almost two years–no shotguns were used in the making of this family.)