As destination wedding photographers, we’ve seen hundreds of ceremonies. In fact, the wedding ceremony is one of our favorite parts of the wedding day! In just a short period of time, we get to witness the chemistry between the bride and groom and hear what brought them together. It is no doubt, a magical experience.
However, the one thing that seems to make or break the ceremony, is having a great wedding officiant. The wedding officiant has the sole power to bring laughter or tears to everyone in attendance, setting the tone for the rest of the day. So how do you find a wedding officiant that not only can legally bind you into marriage, but communicate your love story and vows. Today we are sharing our tips on how to find the perfect wedding officiant for your ceremony.
Understand Your Style
Envision for a moment how you want your ceremony to feel like. Serious? Humorous? Romantic? The wedding officiant will set the tone for the ceremony, so it is very important for you to understand and convey the style you are looking for to them. Wedding officiants do more than help you exchange your vows with one another. They are there to elaborate on the love you share with each other, and the lasting commitment you are about to make. Lastly, they are there to share a sense of direction to the adventure the two of you are about to set out on.
Different Types Of Wedding Officiants
The first thing you must decide is whether the ceremony will be religious or secular. This will help narrow down your wedding officiant choices.
Religious Wedding Officiant
A religious ceremony is often performed by a minister, priest or rabbi and will be recognized by the state as well as the affiliated religion. Be aware of any restrictions that might impact your ability to have your wedding there. You may be required to take pre-marital classes or follow particular rules.
Civil Wedding Officiant
A secular ceremony must be performed by a wedding officiant who has been certified in accordance with state laws such as a justice of the peace or county clerk. Check with your local city clerk to see what options are available in your location.
Professional Wedding Officiant
Hiring a professional wedding officiant is a great option for couples that want both a religious and civil wedding. You will be able to dictate what exactly you want to be said during the ceremony and incorporate any elements you would like.
Friend Or Relative
In some states, a relative or friend can become an ordained minister online for free. In others states, for a small fee, you can get a one day deputy commissioner of. Having someone you trust will make the wedding ceremony more personal and memorable.
Where To Find A Wedding Officiant
There are many companies that provide lists of wedding officiants available for your specific area such as TheKnot.com. You can also visit your local City Hall for a list of ordained wedding officiants.
Be sure to contact potential wedding officiants up to a year in advance to review their work and interview them in person. Once you find a wedding officiant that you like, book them! Booking early will not only put your mind at ease, but some may or may not require pre-marital counseling sessions before they will marry you.
Review Their Work
Nothing speaks louder than a person’s work. You can see a piece of their soul in each ceremony they have performed at. See if your potential wedding officiant has a video of one of their weddings, as well as written copy from the ceremony. Most wedding officiants should have a wide range of samples and styles to choose from. Take time to look through them and see what would be the best fit for your style.
This would be a great time to write down any questions regarding adding in music, quotes or any other personal touches such as providing your own written vows or a special ceremony such as tying a sailor’s knot to symbolize your love. Read the reviews online and don’t form your opinion based on the number available to read, but the quality. Most importantly, get a referral from somebody who personally used their services.
Set Up A Meeting
Call and set up a one-on-one meeting with your potential wedding officiant so you can listen to their voice, how they speak, and get a sense of their personality. You want a wedding officiant that will make a connection and resonate with you. They are there to add valued meaning to your ceremony on the wedding, so be sure that you are comfortable with who they are as a person and as a performer.
Questions To Ask Your Officiant Before You Book
- What was one of your favorite wedding ceremonies?
- How would you describe your ideal couple?
- Have you ever had things go wrong during a ceremony? How did you handle it?
- What was the funniest moment in a wedding you officiated?
Be Aware Of Your Budget
The cost of having a secular judge, county clerk or other wedding officiant varies depending on the locality of the ceremony. However, it is customary for the best man to pay the wedding officiates immediately after the ceremony is completed.
For religious ceremonies, the cost gets a little more complicated. If either the bride or groom is a member of the congregation, the couple may not need to pay a fee to be married by the clergy person, however, a small gift of appreciation or donation is customary. For non-members of the congregation, a fee ranging between a hundred dollars and up is to be expected to be paid to the wedding officiant.
What Kind Of Ceremony Will You Be Having?