You do need at least one individual who satisfies your state’s marriage law to officiate your ceremony if you want your wedding to result in a legal marriage. As one of my colleagues likes to quip, “without me it is just a party.”
I do not know the real statistic, so I am just going to make one up. I would be willing to bet in excess of 98% of wedding ceremonies are officiated by a single individual. I am basing that guess on the fact that I have yet to attend a wedding with multiple officiants as a guest and only once presided with another officiant in over 400 weddings.
And do you know how hard it is to find a picture of two or more officiants presiding at the same wedding? I put out a call to photographers hoping to obtain one for this column and of course Googled, but apparently they are not easy to come by. We shall have to make do with this photo of Stephanie and Nathan at the Rockledge Country Club and just imagine that, if they had so desired, we could easily have had another officiant participating in their ceremony.
Yes indeed, there is no real reason why you cannot have two or more officiants preside at your wedding ceremony.
Photo Attribute: Brian and Dominika Davis Photography
Generally this is done for one of the following reasons, but there could conceivably be more situations warranting multiple officiants:
Inter-faith – The bride and groom were raised in two different faiths and are fortunate to have access to clergy who are willing to work together to provide the couple with a ceremony that honors both of their traditions.
Excess Supply – The bride and groom have more than one friend or family member that are qualified officiants. They either cannot or do not want to choose from among their options.
So how exactly is this done? A multi-officiated wedding ceremony can be constructed any number of ways really.
I wrote the entire ceremony for the dual-officiated wedding in which I participated, but we could easily have each written our own sections. The other officiant and I designated ahead of time which portions we would each preside over during the wedding. For example, he guided them through the vows and I did the same during the ring exchange. At the conclusion of the ceremony, I said the declaration of marriage until the point where we, in unison, announced, “We do hereby declare you are husband and wife.”
Only one officiant can sign the marriage license to certify the marriage has been solemnized, but the other can certainly sign the license as a witness.
In cases where officiating duties are shared, the couple should make certain the officiants are comfortable working together, there are no inflated egos involved, and everyone has clear expectations regarding their roles and responsibilities. If everyone believes providing the couple with a meaningful ceremony is the highest priority, there is no reason why multi-officiating cannot be accomplished smoothly and effectively.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.