Wedding Officiants and a Life Update

Macro Photo of Flowers in Wedding VenueMy fiance and I just selected a venue for our wedding. (One of the big reasons why I’ve been posting less frequently has been just wedding stuff.) After that, the next big order of business will be something I’m pretty nervous about: finding an officiant. My fiance and I have decided that we want a secular wedding ceremony, which means we’ll need to find an officiant in our area who can do that, and figure out whether or not using a secular officiant affects the legal side of things. Does our state care who the officiant is?

That’s not even my biggest concern.

Having a secular wedding means a lot to us as secular people. For me personally, it means saying my vows in a setting that reflects my personal beliefs and worldview rather than just those of my family. It’s the couple making the promise after all. I think it’s important for the promise to be in a format that we personally find meaningful, but for our families, it may be a source of confusion or even conflict.

For many people, a wedding is simply always a religious ceremony. In Catholicism, it’s  a sacrament, so it may be difficult to explain to our religious relatives that we’re not having a priest or minister perform the ceremony.

We might even have a female officiant. (Not that we have to. I’m just very open to the idea.) But in Catholicism, since women can’t be priests, women just don’t marry people. That means something as unimportant as the gender of our officiant could really weird out some members of my family. It would be absurd to them. What if that makes my parents think my marriage isn’t valid?

Maybe these fears are unfounded though. Secular weddings are increasingly common now. How many popular TV shows have had a friend of a couple marry them? Like Barney performing the ceremony for Lily and Marshall in How I Met Your Mother or several friends officiating at Howard and Bernadette’s wedding in The Big Bang Theory–it’s kind of a cool thing to do. My parents have seen some TV weddings like this. Maybe the idea of a nonreligious officiant isn’t as foreign to them now as it would have been a few years ago.

Only time will tell with this one. I’ll probably end up sharing more about our secular wedding experiences, so if you’re interested in any specific details be sure to let me know and I’ll try to reply or maybe even bring them up in a future post (once we’ve made those decisions. We’re still not that far in the wedding planning process yet).

Have any of you been to secular wedding ceremonies in the past? Maybe even had one yourself? I’d love to hear about your experiences. How did family and friends respond to a nonreligious ceremony?

All opinions are welcome! Just be respectful of others and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!


10 thoughts on “Wedding Officiants and a Life Update

  1. Officiant requirements depend on the state, but generally you just need someone that’s recognized as one. If you get a good one, they can walk you through the requirements of what you’ll need for the marriage to be legally valid. When my older brother got married, he used a friend he worked with who was licensed as a minister. That’s what he ended up telling other people who might not have appreciated or understood what a secular officiant means.

    You can’t control what other people think, and fortunately no state requires the gathered crowd to approve of how you do your wedding. If you wanted to throw pentagrams everywhere and shout, “Hail the Dark Lord!” after every vow, you can do that. Hell, you can satisfy the legal requirements before the ceremony, so you could even pretend to hate each other during the actual ceremony itself. Really, you can make it as silly or as sappy as you like.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been a Chaplain, and now a Humanist Celebrant, for a long time, performing many ceremonies. Those of us who used to be religious know what’s going on, what people expect, etc. We can be sensitive to family beliefs, but most respect what the couple actually wants (within reason). It’s not that hard to show respect, while being creative enough to make the celebration a true celebration for the couple.
    You might search for Humanist celebrants in your area.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter had a secular wedding with a female officiant. They did some ritualistic things that could have related to some non-secular groups (pagan or wiccan), but it was barely noticeable. It was nice and I heard no complaints, even though it was quite a fantasy setting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s good to hear! My hope is that now that weddings are often performed in a lot of different ways it’ll go over well. I’m curious now though, what do you mean by fantasy setting? Was it a themed wedding?

      There are some very nice traditions coming from other religions definitely. I think wiccans/pagans do handfasting for instance, which is pretty interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was on a lake, decorated with an arch. I was a nice, moon lit night and I have a wonderful pic of them holding hands moon gazing. Both wore white, Julie had a flower wreath on her head. I did give her away (again) and told him no returns. They did handfasting thing and it was interesting as the officiate explained it. I may try to find the photo so you can see it. I don’t think they are atheist. Julie has claimed pagan for a long time, but I doubt her sincerity.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My area is very religious, and no one does huge secular weddings like the ones we see in the movies. You either get married in church with the Catholic rituals and the whole family by your side, or you go to an ‘administration office’ to do it – purely legal thing which is not beautiful in the slightest, and only a few people are allowed in there. Bigger secular weddings happen sometimes in bigger cities, but they are rare.

    I’m not getting married anytime soon, but thinking about my options and my family sometimes makes me realize I most probably won’t do a wedding ceremony at all.


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