The person who conducts your wedding ceremony is also the one who oversees the most fundamental part of your wedding day. It is crucial you get to know each other and that you as a couple feel comfortable having him/her conduct your vows. Here are some tips to ensure you get the officiant you want.
DO YOU WANT A RELIGIOUS OR SECULAR CEREMONY?
If religious, is it going to be performed by an ordained officiant like a priest, rabbi or minister? Will it be traditional or contemporary? This type of ceremony is recognized by both state and that of the particular religion. A civil or secular ceremony is performed by an officiant who has been certified by state: a county clerk, Justice of the Peace, mayor or representative of a non-religious organization. Wedding planners have lists of wedding officiants.
SET UP A MEETING WITH THE OFFICIANT
Check out the tone of their voice and pacing. Will this person take the time to get to know you both as a couple so you will sharing meaningful vows? Does the officiant ask about your values or extend any perspective about marriage and what he or she is conducting? It always helps to have someone who cares - about you and about marriage. Read reviews and check out videos of how they perform ceremonies.
MAKE SURE YOUR STATE AND COUNTY RECOGNIZE YOUR OFFICIANT
It is pointless to have an officiant who is to authorized to perform the ceremony - as it won’t then be valid.
BOOK AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!
Like one year in advance. Schedule a meeting for six months and also ten days before the wedding. Some religions require a couple to attend premarital counselling sessions which may happen long before the wedding. There may be some fee for this too so ask.
PREPARE TO BE SCRUTINIZED IF YOU CHOOSE A RELIGIOUS CEREMONY!
A religious officiant will need to ensure the couple have a deep connection and are not just superficially writing a wedding in a particular building. If both you and your fiance are members of a church/synagogue, your officiant is easy to choose but, if you’re not, you can find a clergyperson through calling churches or a religion’s national headquarters for referrals.
ASK YOUR POTENTIAL WEDDING OFFICIANTS QUESTIONS
You need to know you are both going to be a good fit: what is their approach to the service, what does it entail, do they make a speech or give a sermon? Can you have some input or write your own vows? What prayers and readings do you use?
FIND OUT WHAT THE DEAL IS REGARDING PAYMENT OR DONATION
If you are a congregation member, there’s not normally a fee - just a gift of appreciation and gratitude. Non-members are usually charged $100-250. It is usually on the higher end if premarital counselling was involved. If your officiant has to travel to your ceremony location, you will be responsible for any travel expenses. Sometimes there is a fee to hold it at a house of worship but it is usually given in the form of a donation - anything from fifty dollars to $1000. The best man hands over all monies at the end of the day.
HOW DO I GET AN OFFICIANT FOR OUR INTERFAITH MARRIAGE?
Some clergy perform this alone or with an officiant from another faith. If you have opposition, there is the Unitarian Universalist Association which is supportive of interfaith marriages, whatever they are and even if neither of you attend one of its churches. There is also the option to have ceremonies in both of your traditional religions but only the date and signature of one will appear on the official wedding certificate.
HOW DO I KNOW MY CIVIL CEREMONY IS GOING TO BE LEGALLY RECOGNIZED?
You must check your officiant is certified. This varies from state to state. Check with the local marriage license bureau for its rules. Government officials are sometimes allowed to conduct ceremonies outside government offices but the rules vary from state to state and city to city so check with the specific local government. The price of this depends on the area and the fee may increase if the officiant goes to the site or it takes place at a city hall. Again, the best man hands over payment after the ceremony.
WILL A NON-RELIGIOUS CEREMONY BE LESS MEANINGFUL OR ROMANTIC?
A non-religious ceremony can be just as expressive as a religious one and just as romantic. As long as the content has been cleared by the officiant, you can write your own vows, include your own readings, music and themes into the ceremony and create a ceremony that is deeply significant to both of you and your guests.