A friend of mine said he was going to be away at a wedding recently. I presumed that he, a generation younger than me, was either a groomsman or was just attending. Nope. He was officiating. Seems some friends were going to be wed and asked him to do it. He scrounged around and had obtained some mail order credentials to be able to fulfill the requirements in my state for doing weddings. It surprised me to see one news outlet state that 40% of all weddings are done by a couple’s friend or family member. Really?
I suppose I’m severely out of touch these days with weddings. The designer weddings, destination weddings, affinity, and joke weddings (e.g., dress up like clowns or cartoon characters, etc.) are not news. It was news to me that couples are grabbing for lay friends and acquaintances to conduct the events.
Jeff Brumley, who does some very good work for Baptist News Global, had this story recently: More BFFs are officiating weddings, but look for ministers to make a comeback
Being retired and not in a pastorate, I have the easy option of accepting or declining any ministry requests and I decline all wedding requests these days, not that they have come in great numbers to me.
We Baptists aren’t sacerdotalists and, sure, I understand that a religious wedding ceremony may be conducted by anyone a local church approves or designates to conduct such. State laws vary as to who may sign the license if any at all. Most churches, unless I’m completely out of touch, permit their pastor and other clergy staff to do them, not any random layperson but since I’m now running across BFFs doing baptisms in SBC churches, I wouldn’t doubt that such are allowed to do weddings in these churches as well. Brave new world.
I don’t know about you but if I were a pastor and was asked to share a ceremony with a BFF or non-clergy officiant, I’d probably decline. I’ve shared wedding duties with many other clergy but never with a pal of the couple. Doing funerals where family members, co-workers, and other, ahem, non-professionals are involved is quite common these days and that is adventuresome enough for this curmudgeonly pastor. All I need is for some giddy and nervous friend-of-the-wonderful-couple to mess up the ceremony. Dealing with bossy wedding planners, finicky photographers, and fussy mothers-of-the-bride is enough headache for me.
If a couple wanted to use the church but not use me as officiant, an occasional circumstance with folks who were only tangentially connected to the congregation, I maintained the policy (with the congregation’s agreement) that I had to approve the choice of minister. A Methodist or Pentecostal or other protestant minister was fine, no objection by me there, but not Mormons, JWs or other cultists. I’ve done weddings and funerals with Roman Catholic priests but not in their church or mine.
In the future we can all design and conduct our own religious ceremonies and dispense with any local body of believers and their ministers.
Guess the future is here.
As an aside, I’m officially calling hooey on the 40% statistic. I don’t believe that can be true. As usual, if you dig deeply into the article and it’s links there are some caveats and provisos attached to the number. Anecdotally, I see more of this now than in previous years, such that it no longer surprises me.