Among all the decisions that you’re going to be making, choosing a wedding officiant is one that will take some time.
Unless of course you’re getting married in your childhood church by your childhood pastor. If that’s the case then skip this and go eat a cupcake. If you’re in need of an officiant then stick around and let’s talk about it.
Your wedding officiant is not just the person who will make your vows official and sign off on your marriage license. This is the person who will work with you for months prior to the wedding helping you prepare for your marriage.
Don’t get so caught up in planning the big day that you forget about what comes after!
How to Find a Wedding Officiant
If you’re having a religious ceremony this decision may already be made for you. These days, more and more weddings are being held in neutral venues. This means that you will have to reach out and find an officiant. You want to be sure that they’re someone that you both respect and can work with.
Ask a Friend
We always, always, always recommend asking any of your friends or other vendors for a recommendation. If you’ve attended a recent wedding and you loved the officiant be sure to get their contact information so you can visit with them. They may not be the perfect person for your wedding but they’ll help get you on the right track to finding one.
Check with your venue for recommendations.
Check Google. There should be plenty of reviews for you to see on local officiants.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, set up some in person interviews.
Who Can be A Wedding Officiant?
A Justice of the Peace
Finding a Justice of the Peace is as easy as contacting your county clerk’s office to get a list. You may also be able to find this list online and you’ll want to call several and visit with them. If you are comfortable on the phone with them you should schedule appointments to meet in person.
If you plan to get married at City Hall you’ll want to contact them and get all the details. Most cities will require you to set an appointment and you may stand in line with several other couples while waiting your turn.
A Friend or Relative
It’s becoming more and more popular to have a friend or relative marry you and be part of your special day. This let’s you be in total control of your own ceremony and have a representative perform it for you.
Be sure to check with you Secretary of State to confirm the rules for your state. It’s important that your friend or relative is ordained so that they can legally perform your marriage ceremony.
Interviewing a Wedding Officiant
You definitely want your officiant to be a confident speaker. Remember that there will be an audience that’s witnessing your wedding. They need to be able to hear and understand your officiant throughout the ceremony. A good officiant will take your guests on a journey and they’ll know when to be dramatic or when to insert some humor into your nuptials.
Do They Offer or Require Premarital Counseling?
Premarital counseling is an important part of the wedding process. You’ve agreed that you want to be married for the rest of your lives but you may not have discussed a few of those taboo subjects. Premarital counseling can you help give you the communication skills to discuss them, and help you learn some listening skills too.
Do They Attend Rehearsals?
Does the fee include them attending your rehearsal or is that something that you will need to organize? Many officiants will be happy to attend a rehearsal, but they need to know in advance. It’s also important to note if your wedding coordinator will be attending to help keep the rehearsal on track.
How Long is the Ceremony?
Before you get all the way to the rehearsal dinner you need a pretty good idea of how long the ceremony will last. You want to be sure that your idea and your officiants are not wildly different.
What Do They Wear?
Some officiants will wear a suit and tie, others may have a robe or ceremony outfit. Be sure to find out what is typical for them and discuss what you prefer.
Will You File Our Marriage License?
Be sure that you iron out who will handle the filling out and filing of the marriage certificate. It has to be filed with the state to be legal and that’s not something you want to mess up.
Make Sure Your Values Match
You and your officiant will set the tone of your ceremony so it will be important that you have shared values. If you are having a religious ceremony there is probably already a prepared script that will be followed, but you still want time to review and revise it.
A secular ceremony officiant will likely have a script that they use also. You should have some freedom in what is said during the ceremony and how your vows are presented. They should be able to direct you to some readings for your ceremony and help you craft your own personal experience.
Your officiant can help you write your own vows or they will should have some suggestions to help you get on the right track.
Prepare for Several Meetings
Your officiant is going to play a large role in your wedding and probably in your future marriage. If they will be providing pre-marriage counseling you’ll want to clear some time in your calendar for several meetings before the wedding day.
If you are taking premarital counseling at another location, you will still want to spend time getting to know your officiant. This is a huge moment in your lives and you’re going to want someone that you consider a friend to be leading you through this.
Remember that your marriage is going to last the rest of your life but your wedding is just one day on this journey. You’ll want to put at least as much time into preparing for marriage as you do into wedding planning.
Check out their credentials.
Be sure that anyone you hire has the necessary license in your area to perform your ceremony. You don’t want to get through your wedding and then later find out that it’s not valid because your officiant wasn’t really official!
And you know we’re giving you this advice because it seems like one of those things you shouldn’t have to check. Check anyway.
Review the Contract
Be sure that the contract has all the details about expectations all the way from the time that you sign it until the ceremony is over. If you are attending premarital counseling go ahead and get those scheduled.
Be sure that your officiants knows what time to arrive at your venue prior to your ceremony, and that it’s included in the contract.
Once you feel comfortable that you’ve reviewed all the details sign the contract and put it with your others for reference.
And now we can go sample cake flavors.