Reason Freely

Follow-Up: 20-something “nones” getting married by friends

Posted in discussion seed, news by reasonfreely on June 29, 2010

Remember the article about college students being more nonreligious this year?  Well other 20-somethings are eschewing the clergy in their own way.  Just like the college kids are getting more secular, weddings are starting to eschew traditional authority:

Here at Reason Freely, we love breaking from tradition and traditional authority.  That’s what it’s all about here.  So I love hearing stories like this.  I’m not cheering the demise of the ministry’s role in marriages so much as cheering the increasing freedom within which people are choosing their officiants.

I think religious officiants and settings do a great job of adding a sense of ancient austerity to a ceremony, but I like the idea of choosing a personal friend or family member to officiate, as well.  Instead of choosing from a list of approved religious passages, the friend can personalize the ceremony a lot better, based on shared experiences and intimate knowledge of the couple.

Let’s discuss factors that contribute to these numbers.  Here are my first-blush thoughts:

– There are more nonbelievers.  Recall from a previous post, 21.9% of college freshmen are “nones.”  And ARIS says 16.1% of the US are nones.  1/7 is 14.3%, so some of the nones are still getting married with pastoral officiants:  In some cases, nones are marrying people of faith, and acquiescing to a religious marriage out of respect (myself, for instance).

– Probably more licensed officiants are “nones” now.  Thank you Universal Life Church.

– Keep in mind, just because a friend is officiating doesn’t mean the couple or the officiant aren’t deeply religious.  However, it means that the couple and the friend are willing to break from traditional religious authority and custom.  That, alone, demonstrates free thought.  As I’ve said over and over again, I’m not against religion; I’m for free thought.

– There are more mixed marriages, with denomination meaning less and less and tolerant denominations (methodism, unitarianisn) growing in popularity (no source right now, sorry).  If you’re going to argue whether his or her pastor should officiate, and if you’re already marrying a heathen anyway (depending on the tolerance level of your denomination); why not do away with argument and let your best friend officiate?

– Community no longer means the people you go to church with.  Modern technology keeps you in touch with friends in ways you couldn’t before.  Now your friends are your community, even if they’re spread over a 500-mile+ diaspora.

– Weddings are getting expensive and heinously over-planned as expressions of self-identity and personal/family pecuniary might.  If your wedding becomes more of a personal expression than a religious sacrament, it makes sense to personalize the officiant, too.  Especially if you’re not as socially bound to your preacher.

Did anyone out there consider a friend for an officiant?  Anyone have a friend officiate?  If so, please comment with your reasons and thoughts.  I’d love to hear them!


8 Responses

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  1. Christana (us meets uk) said, on July 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I actually wanted to do a friend officiated wedding – but no one I asked wanted officiate! i did however, end up becoming friends with the officient we chose?

    Check out this friend officiated ceremony – videos at the end of this post and this post

  2. Karl said, on June 30, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I’m ULC ordained and have officiated several friends weddings. I think if you’re getting married it’s much nicer to have a minister that you know – if you go to a regular congregation and have a minister than that’s great, but if you don’t I think going to a friend rather than using a minster that neither of the couple really knows makes the wedding much more personal. And for the record Maryland is a ULC friendly state, Virginia not so much.

    • reasonfreely said, on June 30, 2010 at 9:37 am

      VA isn’t ULC friendly? Really? How?/Why?

      • Karl said, on July 1, 2010 at 10:53 am

        VA requires that you not only be ordained but also “be in good standing with your congregation” – a requirement aimed at invalidating mail order ordinations. Now ULC will help you get around that by writing a letter confirming your “standing” upon request, but it’s an extra layer of paperwork you have to go through. MD on the other hand doesn’t even require you to register or anything, they basically take your word that you’re ordained.

      • Karl said, on July 1, 2010 at 10:59 am

        Dug up the specific VA vs ULC case that inspired that: ULC lost, and I don’t think it’s been challenged again since.

        • Reason Freely said, on July 1, 2010 at 11:50 am

          That’s ridiculous. What about religions with itinerant ministers, or priests that have no or small congregations? I’m thinking of a zen master or a shinto shrine custodian. And what about the first amendment?

  3. Katherine said, on June 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Since both of us are nonreligious, I considered having a relative or friend go to ULC to be declared an officiant, but ultimately decided against it. Really, I was peeved that the state of Maryland made it necessary for me to make any nod towards religion at all. (What happened to the separation of church and state?) So we went with the county courthouse instead.

    I’ve been to friend-officiated weddings though, and it doesn’t make the weddings any less sweet or solemn.

    • reasonfreely said, on June 30, 2010 at 5:07 am

      I’ve never been to a friend-officiated wedding, but I bet it _would_ be even more sweet and personal and joyous. Thanks for the point of view 🙂

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