Finding Someone to Marry You.

I thought we had our officiant in the bag.

Early on in our wedding planning, Mr. Martini expressed that he had a specific person in mind when it came to who would preside over the ceremony. He became close with this person at the church he attended during college, and although it has been years since they’ve spoken, this man held a special place in Mr. Martini’s heart and he wanted to reconnect with him. Of course, I agreed.

Over the next few weeks Mr. Martini did give him a call, caught up on the last 10 years, and eventually met for dinner. Unfortunately when Mr. Martini popped the big question about whether he would be kind enough to preside over our ceremony, he found that he was not ordained and is currently serving as a counselor at his church.

We were sad that he could not marry us, but excited that he will be able to witness our marriage as a guest after losing touch for 10 years. But now we had another issue. Who was going to seal the deal for us?

Mr. Martini felt just a tad bit uncomfortable with a pastor that was the same age or younger than him, and I respected that, so that left out a couple of our alternate options. When I filled my dad in on our dilemma, he wanted us to ask his church’s head pastor, but I was dead set against having a Korean speaking ceremony and did not feel comfortable repeating my vows from someone who wasn’t very fluent in English.

Then my dad suggested a bilingual ceremony and having two pastors speak. The Youth Group pastor in his church is fluent in English, and my dad thought he would be a perfect fit for the vow segment of the ceremony. But I wasn’t sure I liked the idea – I’ve never met this person and not only was he much younger than Mr. Martini, he was also younger than me.

I might come off as seeming a little bit picky, but I felt that the officiant would have one of the most important positions on our wedding day. I mean, he’s going to MARRY us. His words, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” are going to change our lives forever. We also chose not to get married in a church despite protests (our reason for this had nothing to do with religion – we just preferred not to ask guests to travel between two locations), and in exchange we promised to have a “church” wedding without the actual church. Therefore, I wanted a great speaker who was going to make the ceremony meaningful, yet fun. It would have been nice to have someone who at least knew one of us personally. But since we don’t attend church at the moment, it’s been a little tough finding a pastor so far.

How did you, or will you, choose the person who will marry you?


Mrs. Martini

New Jersey
Wedding Date:
March 2015
Fodor's Cancun/Cozumel/Yucatan Peninsula
My DIY Invitation Suite
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  1. Member
    boogerette 73 posts, Worker bee @ 3:14 pm

    My FFIL, who is a pastor, will actually marry us, which makes the ceremony that much more meaningful to us!!!
    Good luck finding someone!!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Becky, Guest @ 3:15 pm

    What about going with your original option but just offering to pay the fee to have him legally ordained? He still has the spiritual and emotional connection with your hubby’s past and seems like a great person – and I don’t think the fee is too high & can be taken care of online.

    Good luck!

  3. Member
    suzanno 2683 posts, Sugar bee @ 3:17 pm

    It was also very important to us! My sister had a lovely wedding, in a beautiful historic chapel, but the officiant “came with” the chapel and I remember thinking that the ceremony was so generic that it really sounded like he didn’t even know them. I knew that I wanted something completely different – an officiant that we really could connect with, who would base the ceremony on the two of us, and our relationship and hopes for the future. We went through five potential officiants before finding the one we knew was right – who was a retired pastor, the friend of a coworker, and whom we met only because I was telling the story one day at lunch of how we had everything else lined up but nobody to actually marry us. I was actually worried that maybe he was a little too old – but by the end of the first hour we spent with him, we knew he would be perfect.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    olive tree, Guest @ 3:19 pm

    Hey Miss Martini! We’re also having a hard time finding a pastor. Our wedding locale is 4 hours away from us and the people we were interested in all clearly said they only married couples who were either members of their church or have completed pre-marital counseling with them. I understood, but still feel frustrated. But have no worries…I’m sure it will ALL come together beautifully!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Emily, Guest @ 3:23 pm

    I second Becky’s idea! Or, what about having him perform the ceremony and the Koren pastor sign the marriage license?

    We’ve asked my fiance’s great-uncle (he’s a judge) to perform the ceremony for us. Not sure if it will be legal (we’re getting married in Washington state, he’s a judge in Nevada) but if it isn’t, we’ll like have FI’s sister get ordained online and she can sign the marriage license for us.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    amanda j., Guest @ 3:28 pm

    my officiant called 10 minutes after she was supposed to arrive saying she was lost. when she did arrive, she had a she-mullet and a bit of a stutter (someone else did our rehearsal). she managed to screw up the very simple reading we had picked and she rushed through the ceremony, making it only 8 minutes long. she left approximately 3 minutes after the ceremony. i’ll tell you this, none of that mattered. it was still the most magical day of my life. husband and i have even more to laugh about for the rest of our lives.

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    alli, Guest @ 3:36 pm

    I kind of felt weird about it, but we hired someone through an officiant service. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since we never met face to face before the wedding, but she was wonderful! They had set ceremonies to choose from, or components and you could basically mix and match to create it or add in some of your own. We ended up choosing some and adding some of our own and it was wonderful.

  8. meatball Member
    meatball 624 posts, Busy bee @ 3:41 pm

    Our best friend, from the Laguna Beach wedding, is marrying us. He’s a yoga teacher, too and has a really great delivery to an audience. I can’t wait!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    Erin, Guest @ 3:44 pm

    What about using the two-officiant approach with the older Korean pastor and your FI’s friend doing the vows? My brother and SIL had a similar arrangement, and it worked well.

    Finding the officiant was surprisingly an issue for us as well. Everyone had an opinion… sigh. We had a judge officiate our wedding, which was so easy! It doesn’t work for couples who want a religious ceremony, but we loved it.

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    lmdh, Guest @ 3:50 pm

    My (now) husband and I went with the “have a friend get ordained” approach for our wedding in Pennsylvania. We did not get married in a church (his family is not religious at all) but we wrote our ceremony to “feel” like a church wedding in many ways and in the end everyone (even my skeptical mother!) loved it and many people told it was one of the most emotional ceremonies they’ve ever witnessed. A lot of that had to do with having someone who knew us so well perform the ceremony, so I think there’s a lot to be said for that (and I believe that the ordination fee was only like $40 – less than a marriage license!)

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 3:52 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of two-officiant weddings, and as long as everyone knows what his or her job is, it works great. It probably takes tighter scripting than just going by the book, but that allows you to personalize more, too.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Wolff2Be, Guest @ 3:53 pm

    We are going to be using my former Youth Group leader (who is now a pastor at church he started). I am personally so excited to have him officiate our service because he was a big part of my teenage years. We are also having a “church” wedding not inside a church, which was a big deal to my Mom. She was thrilled when I said we were asking my former Youth Group leader.

    I’m with Becky and Emily… couldn’t you get him ordained for the day?

  13. Member
    jeeyol 119 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:55 pm

    My ffil is a baptist preacher and we are getting married in a catholic church. To accommodate us, our priest split up the ceremony so he could do half. FFIL is doing the opening prayer, the reading, the reflection and group vows. Our priest will be doing our vows, and the rite of marriage and all the business at the end. They both have parts and everyone seems to be happy about the setup, especially us. Maybe you could have the family friend involved like that.

  14. Member
    scheerintraining 69 posts, Worker bee @ 4:15 pm

    Luckily, My fiance is the assistant pastor of our church and his good friend is the pastor. Even though he is the same age as he is, we instantly thought of him. I had a complicated time because BOTH of my grandfathers are pastors. Asking one or the other of them to marry us would be unfair to the other. Not to mention, our pastor also comes with an awesome church lol.

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Paige, Guest @ 4:20 pm

    My fiance actually is a youth minister, so there were several of his friends (including my FBIL) that we could have chosen. We chose someone who knew both of us separately prior to when we started dating, and knows us together. It’s great because he knew us separate and together; he says that we’re just better together. It’s something really unique that he can work into our ceremony. I second the suggestion of a two-officiant wedding (we were considering that at one time). You could use your friend and your dad’s pastor (and he can sign the license). Or you could pay for your friend to get licensed through the state (I think it was only like $50 in my state when my fiance go his).

  16. Member
    sayithot 100 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:25 pm

    a longtime family friend, who is also a judge, is marrying us :)

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Tosha, Guest @ 4:31 pm

    This was something kind of at the end of our top priorities because neither of us attend church or had anyone in mind.

    Until the thought of getting my Dad ordained… my Dad is my guardian angel and the most influential person in my life. We just need to figure out how to get him ordained now.

  18. corn Member
    corn 1130 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:34 pm

    I am not sure that everyone realizes this, but in most cases, getting ordained isn’t as easy as just paying up for membership in the ordained club. For most religions, once you have completed the required studies, you need to pass ordination exams and then in some religions you STILL aren’t ordained until you have a call. Getting ordained over the internet is great for friends, but if someone has already been ordained, it might seem inconsiderate to suggest they can just get ordained again online.

    Mr Corn and I were married by my sister; an ordained Presbyterian minister with two years of seminary, a summer of grueling ordination exams and 9 years as a solo pastor under her belt.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Zee, Guest @ 4:36 pm

    My dad is going to officiate at our wedding, actually. He married both my older brothers, and I decided it would be more meaningful to me for my dad to do the ceremony than to walk me down the aisle–which will be done by my godfather, who I’m really close to, and who has no kids.

    If you guys really wanted this guy, what if you had a non-legally-binding religious ceremony followed by a small civil ceremony at a JoP the next day?

  20. Member
    mrshudson 143 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:37 pm

    We hired a judge like 2 days before the wedding. It was so stressful to not know who was going to do it that close to the wedding. It felt like nice neutral groud for both of us and he let us choose what he would read. It turns out that he and my grandpa knew eachother a long time ago. Kind of cool!

    Good luck Martini! I know how stressful it is!

  21. frenchbulldog Member
    frenchbulldog 1088 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:19 pm

    I have 3 family friends that have become ordained Presbyterian Pastors, I’m hoping to ask one of them :)

  22. Guest Icon Guest
    Vicki, Guest @ 5:22 pm

    My hubby and I recently got married. We asked his high school teacher, who was not ordained in any way by a church to be our officiant and marry us. I’m not sure about the rules in NJ, but in California it is very easy to just sign up with the County as an officiant for the day. I think her official title was something like “Justice of Marriage for the County of Los Angeles.” I think the fee was something like $50 and all she had to do was go to the County seat to be sworn in. She really wanted to be our officiant and she did a fabulous job. A lot of people commented that it was one of the best ceremonies they had been to, mostly because she knew my husband so well and over our 4 yr courtship she got to know me as well so it was very personal. I recommend investigating this “officiant for a day” stuff. It really does help to have someone who knows you well serve as your officiant.

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    Autumn, Guest @ 5:26 pm

    My first job out of law school was working for a federal judge, and he’s going to marry us! FI is so excited that someone who’s special to both of us will be tying our knot.

    There’s only one hitch, he’s attending a conference several states away the days prior to the wedding and will be driving to the wedding that afternoon. Talk about a nailbiter! In TN only a very small subset of people can perform a marriage, so we were having trouble finding a backup in case, god forbid, he gets stuck in traffic or something, but luckily for us everyone at the state park where we’re getting married also performs some sort of wedding service, including a lady who can legally perform weddings!

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Emma, Guest @ 6:01 pm

    Oooh I feel you, this is a tough choice! It’s so personal, but I felt that not just anyone who knew us well could marry us. We went with a family friend of my husband’s – a 50’s-ish guy with a great presence. He had officiated at his daughter’s wedding about a year earlier. He was nervous about doing ours, but he did a great job.

    Luckily CA allows you to deputize anyone to become and officiant for a day. We didn’t realize this til very late in the game, and were going to have a court ceremony first to make it official. We were so relieved when we found out our friend could actually marry us. I was very glad that the wedding that our friends and family witnessed was indeed our ‘real’ wedding. There is something about the moment of getting married that is very special.

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    sunflowers, Guest @ 7:06 pm

    Just because your preferred officiant isn’t ordained, doesn’t mean he can’t go online and buy a certificate to allow him to perform marriage ceremonies. He won’t be doing it in his capacity as a minister but it would still be legal. I have several friends who have purchased their licenses to wed people and have officiated at lovely ceremonies. Likewise, my mother is an ordained presbyterian minister and has officiated many, many wedding ceremonies but legally, there is no difference between my licensed friend and my mommy.

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    Julie, Guest @ 8:31 pm

    My brother married us! We live in California so he was deputized for the day. It was really wonderful to have someone marry us who knew us so personally. I definitely recommend being married by someone whom you have a personal connection with.

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    Miss Keswick, Guest @ 11:42 pm

    I have been searching for 6 weeks now to find a priest who will marry us. The first said he couldn’t promise bc he’d have to find a substitute. The following four said no because they were ALL traveling / going to be out of town next July/August. I posted my quandary on and a girl responded that she had the same problem (2 of the 3 churches in our location required we be parishioners for 1 year before we were married there and as it’s 2 hrs away, this was impossible). This priest said ‘maybe’ but he celebrates 5 masses on Sunday and isn’t sure if he’ll be available for the next month. We flip-flopped back and forth between having our ceremony at the Reception venue and at a church, but I’d never considered a non-church ceremony until now since I, too, understand the temptation of simplifying logistics. Right now, we’ve asked a friend of the family who is an ordained Catholic Deacon to do our ceremony. If the 5th priest becomes available, we’ll have a mass. I HATE leaving this undecided, but at this point, I have no choice. I’m just glad my Uncle is able to be there with us, no matter who the priest could be. Good luck! Others have suggested going to the Diocese (if you’re Catholic) and asking them to help you find a priest that’s available.

  28. Guest Icon Guest
    Jessica, Guest @ 12:47 am

    We went to the National Association of Wedding Officiants ( and found ours in CA – she’s fantastic! You can also look under “Clergy” and “Wedding” in the yellow pages, or check out non-denominational churches that are often willing to conduct religious ceremonies for couples who are not members of the church [Source: Bridal Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields, 8th Ed.].

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    jtg, Guest @ 4:46 am

    This has been a very interesting discussion. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that “its marriage before God with whatever legal ends need to be met, so what does it matter who officiates the details?” Its refreshing to have my eyes opened to a different perspective. Thanks!

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    Tabitha (From Single to Married), Guest @ 11:30 am

    It was so tough, harder than I thought it would be. We wanted our bishop (similar to a pastor) but because the ceremony was in Washington, DC, there were rules and regulations we had to follow. It ended up working out, but we had to get a letter of referral from someone who was authorized in DC and who was able to recommend our bishop before they would let him do it. Talk about walking through hoops!

  31. Guest Icon Guest
    Melothyryan, Guest @ 4:42 pm

    We’re beginning to have similar convos at the dinner table these days. We were both raised Roman Catholic but in recent years I’ve begun attending a non-denominational Christian church. We’re considering whether we want to get married in a Catholic church or not, and then which church we’d choose, and if we decide to go with the Non-Denominational route, there are a few choices for who and how and where…

    I look forward to your update!

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