My spouse-to-be and I didn't want a formal wedding, but wanted something more personal than the City Clerk. More and more couples are choosing to have a friend or family member officiate at their wedding, which is what we decided we wanted to do. In researching the requirements for having a friend perform our ceremony, I discovered it was so easy, I did it myself. I've had the power vested in me by the state to officiate at marriages. Want to do it too? It's easy.
Step 1: Get ordained. You don't need to go to divinity school. You can do it online, like I did, at the American Marriage Ministries. It may sound a little fly-by-night, but it's 100% legal. The ordination is free, but ordering the paperwork required by NY state costs $37, including shipping.
Step 2: Register as a Marriage Officiant. I filled out my application online, then went to the City Clerk's office, presented my paperwork, paid the $15 fee, and signed the big book.
Different states have different procedures and requirements -- the American Marriage Ministries website can help you figure out yours.