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Preside at a wedding: pals with benefits

As Julie Butcher Pezzino and Andrew Butcher sat in an oceanside garden in tiny Southwest Harbor, Maine, watching two friends get married, the scene was beautiful, moving, and familiar.

sex and relationships Updated: Sep 17, 2011 22:25 IST

As Julie Butcher Pezzino and Andrew Butcher sat in an oceanside garden in tiny Southwest Harbor, Maine, watching two friends get married, the scene was beautiful, moving, and familiar.

Practically everyone from their tight little American University crew was there. And as in their own ceremony, the officiant wasn’t some distant member of the clergy; it was another member of the crew.

The college friends have made the rounds, presiding at each others’ weddings, four times so far, with another wedding scheduled for December.

A study last year by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com showed that 31 % of their users who married in 2010 used a family member or friend as the officiant, up from 29% in 2009, the first year of the survey.

Although the majority of brides and grooms still use members of the clergy and other professionals, including judges (61 % last year, according to the study), the shift toward secular officiants seems to be further evidence of another, broader trend: the movement of Americans away from organised religion.

When it came time to choose who within their circle of friends would officiate, Butcher and Pezzino wanted the right mix of casual and authoritative. Their buddy, Timothy Sini, a prosecutor, fit the bill and officiated at their 2009 wedding.

Pezzino said: “He argues cases for a living, so he has amazing oratory skills.”


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