I read recently that there is a new trend for couples to have friends officiate at their weddings in place of a priest. I get the motivation behind the trend – you’re not really religious, you are different religions, you don’t have a priest who knows you well, etc.
I’m not religious. That may be an understatement. I haven’t been inside a house of worship in about fifteen years. When I did go it was to inculcate my daughter into religious belief – something my parents never did for me.
Even so, I think couples are missing an important step by skipping the priest. When my husband and I decided to wed we were faced with the question of who would marry us. We’d never discussed religion. We’d never attended any services. We approached finding a priest like we did picking the wedding cake, we sampled. We visited a few different services to see if any were a fit. We ultimately picked a Unitarian church and after attending just two services scheduled a meeting with the minister to discuss having him marry us.
He took time to get to know us over a few meetings. He asked us questions which, in hindsight, I’d wished I’d paid more attention to. And that’s why a minister is better than a friend. Even a minister who barely knows you knows enough about the challenges you will face to prod you to think ahead, to discuss issues like children and attitudes toward life that couples head over heels in love tend to overlook.
I agree to couples writing their own vows – that’s where you can introduce the wonderfully personal into the service – but keep your friends as guests and let the professional handle the official duties. The best services he performs are those before the wedding day.