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  • Writer's pictureSTP Weddings

Hiring a Wedding Officiant

If you aren't getting married in a church, you will need to hire an officiant for your ceremony. In NJ, your officiant needs to be ordained. Some couples choose to hire a professional, while others make the decision to go with a friend or family member as their officiant (who becomes ordained via an online certification). With the latter option becoming increasingly popular, we spoke to Alisa Tongg, who is an award-winning certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and ordained minister about how she is helping couples who choose a friend or family member to officiate with her new Wedding Ceremony Master Class.. [Photo by William West Studio]

Here's what she had to say:

  • Half of all couples marrying this year will ask a friend or family member to officiate their wedding ceremony because they want it to be personal, warm and genuine. The only problem is that creating the type of “love and laughter filled” wedding experience you thought that friend/family member would be perfect for delivering, is harder to create than you’d think.

  • My new Wedding Ceremony Master Class for Friend Officiants takes loved ones through my process of creating a heartfelt, memorable and genuine ceremony, and helps friends maintain their own particular flair.

  • The biggest challenge a friend /family member officiant faces is often hours wasted scouring the internet looking through sample scripts and cobbling together awkward-official sounding parts because people assume that the friend officiating needs to convey a certain type of religious or spiritual authority.

  • The result is a script that sounds inauthentic, and this is where many friend officiants end up either backing out or moving forward in a way that makes everyone feel the awkwardness.

  • The wedding ceremony master class gives friend officiants

1) my tried and true Couples’ Questionnaire so they can have lots of appropriate information to draw from when writing the love story message;

2) an inclusive starter ceremony that covers joining of families, remembrance, introducing readings, love story message, I dos, ring exchange, and final blessing—all written in the voice of a trusted friend or beloved family member. This allows the friend officiant to spend the bulk of their creative efforts personalizing it, not trying to figure out structure, appropriate tone or flow.

About Alisa

Alisa Tongg is an award-winning certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and ordained minister who has been creating and performing personal ceremonies for nearly a decade, with hundreds of five-star reviewed weddings. As a graduate of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute she studied and formally trained to become a ceremony expert for interfaith, intercultural and religiously unaffiliated couples as well as for blended families. Alisa Tongg is the first Certified Celebrant to be recognized as such in the New York Times Vows section, and she is leading the way, working together with lawmakers to update the marriage laws in Pennsylvania so that couples have a greater choice for a legally recognized personal wedding ceremony


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