As you begin to plan your wedding, you may think that it is a fun idea to have a friend or close family member officiate your wedding. Now, depending on where you live in Canada, this may be possible, however, if you live in Ontario, one must be legally allowed to officiate weddings. In order for that to happen, this individual must be: 

  • A Judge or Justice of the Peace
  • A City clerk employee who is able to conduct city hall weddings 
  • A priest, rabbi, or other clergy members in good standing to officiate weddings 

None of the above? You may need to opt for an alternative solution. Here are some ways that your friend or family member can participate and you will still be legally married. 

Option #1: Have two ceremonies: 

If you really want to have a friend officiate your wedding, you can opt to have a legal ceremony first and then your full ceremony with your friend on your wedding day. The only things you will need for this ceremony are a marriage license and two witnesses.

how to have a friend or family member officiate your wedding, 1

Photo Courtesy of Lindsie Grey

Option #2: Have an officiant oversee the proceedings: 

Some officiants will allow your friend or family member to ‘officiate’ the wedding with their oversight. They will need to step in for the legal part of the ceremony, but the more sentimental parts can be conducted by your friend or family member. 

Option #3: Have your friend become ordained: 

While it is tricky and fairly costly– it is possible for laypeople to become ordained as clergy in Ontario. The Humanist Association offers non-denominational officiant training for those wishing to become ordained. However, the training is costly and time-consuming– taking over a year to complete. Consider this option carefully. 

If your friend says yes– celebrate! Your ceremony will be unique and incredibly meaningful. However, since they are relatively inexperienced– do them a favour by setting them up for success: 

  • Write a ceremony script that includes important points and any legal requirements needed for a wedding ceremony. 
  • Give them a dress code: a black business suit works well to make sure they look good without overpowering you or your wedding party. 
  • Provide a microphone
  • Practice. 

Remember, that having a friend or close family member officiate your wedding seems like a really great idea, but can be costly and time-consuming. So, don’t be offended if your friend says ‘thanks, but respectfully, no’. You can still find a meaningful way to involve them in your day.