Photo shows a bride and a groom sitting on chairs in front of a woman officiating.
Photo by sylvar, Flickr CC

More and more couples are opting to have friends officiate their wedding ceremonies. The Knot, a popular wedding website, saw a jump from 29-40% from 2009 to 2015. In a recent article in The Atlantic, sociologist Ellen Lamont explains that this trend is especially popular among young couples:

“More and more, Millennials are identifying the things in their life that are ‘generic’ and finding a way to make them meaningful, personalized, and special.”

And this is part of a larger trend forgoing traditions around marriage. According to Lamont,

“The expectations for marriage have shifted, and sociologists refer to this as kind of a ‘deinstitutionalization’ of marriage…Basically meaning that the social norms that guided marriage have become more negotiable, flexible, and individualized.”

For example, couples are opting for non-religious ceremonies, choosing not to have the bride’s father give her away, and creating unique last names to share. In short, these are ways young couples construct weddings that are meaningful for them. Having a friend officiate signals the importance of friendships in their lives.