So it turns out that this question gets asked twice during the engagement process. The first time is the most obvious—it’s during the proposal. But you can’t just decide to get married and then it’s done. To make it legal, there’s got to be that special person known as the “officiant” involved. And when you find the right one, you’ll have to ask the question again.
Image from 143 Bridal
Mr. Whale and I didn’t even consider a religious ceremony for a second. He was raised Catholic. I was raised Methodist. But neither of us practices any kind of Christian religion. (We don’t technically practice any other religion either, but Mr. Whale is fairly spiritual, so I don’t want to say that he’s not religious at all.) Overall, the ceremony is very important to both of us, so we really aren’t willing to compromise at all on the things that we want.
But when we started thinking about what we did want in the ceremony, we realized that the officiant really sets the tone. I want people to cry. It’s just not a good wedding without some tears! And it’s really hard for a stranger to set that kind of tone at a wedding unless they’re just really really good. (This is probably one reason why you should meet with potential officiants and decide who is right for you.) But because we’re doing a destination wedding, we just can’t meet with any officiants in person. Bummer.
Lucky for us, the internet has made it possible for non-clergy members to get ordained. For free! I have to admit, I was a little reluctant to think of allowing one of our friends or family members to officiate our wedding. What if they don’t take it seriously enough? It’s definitely going to be their first wedding, so what if they’re really nervous and they ruin it? But even though I was reluctant, Mr. Whale reeeeeally liked this idea. And so, we decided to give it some thought. Our main problem was just that we didn’t know who to ask.
We considered my brother, who really would do a fantastic job. But…that makes it more special for me and my family and kind of leaves out Mr. Whale and his family. We also considered and then didn’t choose a few other people based on similar reasons. We really wanted someone that would do a good job but would be nearly equally as close to Mr. Whale as to me. That’s a pretty tall order.
Somehow, we were stuck on thinking about our friends and family from our hometowns and forgot that we have some really great friends right here where we live. In particular, there is only one person who has been friends with each of the Blue Whales since before the Blue Whales met each other. Our Best Manatee! (See here if you’re totally lost.)
Here he is, dressed as Bob Ross for Halloween.
Mr. Whale and I have spent almost as much time with our Best Manatee as we have with each other. That’s because Mr. Whale and our Best Manatee were roommates for two years (and I might as well be considered another roommate, because I basically lived there as well), and now we all live in the same apartment complex!
Mr. Whale and I were super pumped to come up with someone who knew us both, is a super cool guy, and would likely do a pretty awesome job of officiating our wedding. Now, we just had to ask him.
So one evening, we headed to his apartment to hang out and decided that this would be the night we would ask him. It actually felt like we were getting ready to propose to him. We were a little nervous and everything! A little ways into the evening, Mr. Whale tried to ask him (key word: tried). But really, he just started telling this long story about how we weren’t sure who would be officiating our wedding. And every few minutes Mr. Whale would say, “And then we realized _____ might be great.” And he’d talk about that person for a minute and then say why they weren’t right. Then he’d mention another person…this went on for many minutes. I could tell Best Manatee wasn’t quite following. So I jumped in and said the only thing that I thought made sense at the time: “Listen, I think what he’s really trying to say is, ‘Will you marry us?’”
Thankfully, he said yes! A few days later, we had him ordained as a minister of the Church of American Marriage Ministries. Their beliefs are as follows (taken from their website):
American Marriage Ministries (‘AMM’) is built on the belief that all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or socioeconomic status, have the right to engage in the marriage contract, that all people have the right to administer the marriage contract, and that it is the right of every couple to choose who will officiate their marriage.
AMM and its ministers believe in the doctrine of marriage, that marriage is a sacred bond, a religious rite to be cherished and respected by the people and the state.
Sounds good to me! The ordination was free, and it took less than five minutes. You can check on their website whether a minister of AMM can perform a marriage in your state. If you’re looking for a place to get ordained, I highly recommend AMM.
We’re still a little worried about designing the entire ceremony ourselves and having Best Manatee lead it. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to have a great wedding when your friend is officiating?