Read This Before Officiating A Wedding For Your Friends

Photo: Getty Images.
With the exception of the best man or maid of honor, the officiant is probably the most important role a friend or family member can play in a wedding. The couple is essentially entrusting you — over a clergyman or a legal official — to administer the all-important part of their ceremony that makes their union official. These are not easy shoes to fill, to say the least.
While the duties that come with the appointment can sound daunting, becoming an ordained minister has become a much more convenient process thanks to the Internet. That said, some due diligence is still needed to avoid a Joey Tribbiani-style mishap. We've laid out a list of guidelines to commit to memory before you step on the altar.
Do Your Research
Just like changing your last name after getting married, regulations surrounding ministers are different for each state — and sometimes, those rules are down to each individual county. Some states will only require you to get a license, while others will require an official religious affiliation. Check in with your local registrar or country clerk to be safe. This website provides a handy guide to what's recognized in each state.
Sign Up and Pay Up
Find an online organization that fits your needs in terms of religious affiliation. Despite having the word "church" in their names, many online ministries — such as the American Fellowship Church or Universal Life Church — take applications regardless of religion or denomination. You'll be directed to submit a request, where you'll fill in your basic personal information. There are websites out there that will ordain for free, but most of them will still charge a fee to process your paperwork. As a rule of thumb, it should cost you around $50, and you should get the certificate and letter of good standing in your inbox within two weeks of applying.
Write Your Script
The purpose of your speech extends beyond guaranteeing that there won't be a dry eye at the ceremony: According to Universal Life Church's website, for the marriage to be legally binding, two things have to be present in your script: The declaration of intent and the pronouncement. The former is the question and "I do" correspondence, while the latter is an official declaration of the wedded couple. It's important that these elements are included in your speech, and that you've had plenty of practice before the big day.
Don't Forget The Post-Wedding Stuff
This is the part that validates everything and seals the deal: Make sure you sign the couple's marriage certificate. Aside from getting the couple's signature, two witnesses are also required to sign. Generally speaking, the officiant is tasked with getting everyone's signature and returning the paperwork to the registrar on time. Don't drop the ball!

More from Living

R29 Original Series