Q: Can I just have my friend marry us? It would save money and she already knows us…

This kind of situation can absolutely work out, with a few important notes:

-The number one issue that can crop up with friends performing your ceremony is that the ceremony becomes a testament to your friendship, rather than a ceremony about you and your partner. I think the reason for this is a lack of preparation or understanding about what a ceremony should or could be; a lack of structure that becomes filled with anecdotes as opposed to the ceremony you were hoping for.  One great resource (and there are many) is a book that I used when I first started out, found here: The Wedding Ceremony Planner.

-Of course, make sure your friend is ordained! In New York, they need to go to City Hall and become registered even after becoming ordained.

-Another issue with working with a friend is not wanting to spoil the friendship at all, by making deadlines or pushing too hard.  If there is a friend you are hoping to work with, the best thing you can do is lay out exactly what you and your fiancé are hoping for before approaching your friend.  Give the friend room to say no, as it is a day that they might want to be duty-free and enjoy as your friend and guest.

-Decide whether you want to write it yourself and have the friend read it, or whether you are asking your friend to create the ceremony.

-Sometimes you can work with an officiant to do the more “official” parts but still have a friend read the ceremony. I have worked with couples in this way and it means you know you have an officiant leading the structure of the ceremony and the legal part, but can still have your friend involved.  Of course, this might not save the money you were hoping to save but it does include the friend in the way you might have been looking to experience.

Best of luck with your wedding ceremony!