Congrats! You’ve been asked by your friends to officiate their wedding! As with many in these days and ages, friends turn to friends to help them mark that special occasion, preferring a tried-and-true pal over a reverend or professional officiant. This is a tremendous honor I was fortunate to fulfill for not one but two very different and wonderful weddings, and I learned a few things along the way.
You can become an officiant speedily and freely online, and then it is up to you to file the marriage license within 10 days to the County Clerk at our beautiful S.B County Courthouse. Be very careful not to make any errors on the license, as penmanship mistakes will result in a fine and a new license will need to be filed; the same goes for coffee or beverage stains. The California Department of Public Health has a FAQ section about wedding laws on their website, and you’d do best to review it.
Officiating a wedding is an important responsibility as you are legalizing a marriage, so you must follow the law. In many cases, you will also be sanctifying the union in a religious way, so you may have to consider and follow the religious rites.
Beyond the rules and laws, you should be as individual as possible. No one needs clichés about love or the same old statements about compromise and patience; think of your friends’ marriage as a unique love story. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but I’d suggest just talking to or even interviewing them as a couple, learning their story — how they met and why they’re choosing to officially combine their life journeys, and what they love about one another. And remember, you must have a reservoir of great memories of times shared with your friends, times of abundant love and friendship — this is a chance to talk about what they’ve taught you about love and what they’ve learned from each other.
Last, write out your speech in advance, and take time to practice, ensuring these important words runs smoothly on the actual day. This is your honor to say something truly meaningful, to pronounce your friends married, so take the time to know the laws, and create an unforgettable moment for those who mean a lot to you.