A wedding officiant is a person who is licensed to officiate at wedding ceremonies.
There are many companies and individuals on the internet that offer the services of officiating at weddings. Review the choices of persons available in your area. If they have biographies or any testimonials from couples, take the time to read them. Sometimes family and friends are able to recommend someone.
Once you have narrowed down the choices and find an officiant that suits your personal taste, you will need to know if he/she is available on the day that you have decided to have your wedding. Officiants sometimes do more than one wedding in a day, so make sure the time is suitable also. Find out what the procedure is to book your officiant, and if you are able to contact him/her prior to booking. Also, find out how far in advance you need to book.
You will want to know how much it will cost for his/her services. There may be travelling costs involved if your venue is out of town, and a rehearsal may be extra.
Another really important piece of information is to find out if there is a contingency plan in case the officiant you choose has an unexpected emergency and is unable to make it to your ceremony.
You will be able to contact the officiant of your choice and speak with him/her. It is not uncommon to meet prior to booking. It would be practical to make a list of any questions that you have, as there are many things to think about and discuss when you meet.
Here are some FAQs for you to consider when you are speaking with your officiant:
May we see the officiant’s credentials?
What type of attire does the officiant wear, and will he/she wear clergy garb if we make that request?
Does he/she sound pleasing and make us feel at ease on the phone and through e-mails?
Does he/she respond promptly and answer our questions to our satisfaction?
Approximately how long does it take to perform a wedding ceremony?
Are we able to write our own vows, and if we need assistance will he/she offer advice and suggestions?
Will we be expected to memorize our vows?
Can we customize our ceremony or include special rituals?
May we have friends or family do readings?
Will the officiant require a wireless microphone?
How are the rings handled?
Can we have children/pets involved?
What are the legal requirements to be met as far as the wording of the ceremony?
Can we have a friend or relative participate in the conducting of the ceremony?
Are there any restrictions to photography/videography during our ceremony?
Can he/she perform an interfaith or same sex ceremony if required?
Will we be able to meet with the officiant to discuss the ceremony, how often and when?
Will the officiant be present for our rehearsal if needed, and is there a fee for their participation?
If the officiant will not be present at rehearsal, is he/she willing to give us advice as to how the processional and recessional are to be conducted, as well as any other tips?
Do we require counseling prior to being married?
What is the officiant’s fee, types of payment allowed, and are there any cancellation and/or refund policies?
Will the officiant be able to join us at the reception?
Your officiant should be able to answer these questions. You should feel comfortable speaking with him/her. You should not feel rushed or that your questions and ideas are silly or trivial. As with all other persons involved in your wedding…from florists to caterers, you need to take the time to choose an officiant that will help to create the vision you have for your wedding.
As an officiant, I encourage couples to write their own vows. Your wedding ceremony will mean much more to you if you customize it. Think of the things that define you individually and as a couple. Reflect on what drew you together in the first place and what qualities you admire in your partner. You may not share all the same likes and dislikes, but that is what makes each person and each couple unique and this can be addressed in vows. Imagine the impact of saying “Because I love you, I will consider sitting in a cold arena to watch hockey games with you”. Whatever the situation, it will be much more meaningful and memorable with a little thought and effort. It is all about YOU so let your ceremony tell your stories.