Published: Monday, Jul. 8th, 2019
For couples who believe that the ceremony is one of the most significant parts of their wedding day, it's crucial to choose an officiant that's capable of telling their unique love story.
So, who's out there, and what are your options for choosing a wedding officiant?
An officiant (called a celebrant in Europe and Australia!) is anyone who has the legal authority to solemnize a marriage. Some of these individuals perform marriage for others in a professional capacity.
Professional officiants can be spiritual or religious, but not technically clergy. Some officiants aren't religious at all. Some are clergy members who also work outside of houses of worship. There are individuals who officiate professionally as a full-time passion and business. There are also folks, equally passionate, who officiate part-time, or "just for fun" as a way to stay active within their communities. And, there's everything in between.
It’s possible that you’re reading this because you were already thinking of asking a friend of family member to perform your wedding ceremony. There are millions of reasons why couples choose this route! Being able to draw on people from your own community opens up a world of possibilities when choosing a wedding officiant. Now, you have the choice to ask your school teachers, college friends, colleagues, mentors, friends, relatives… the list goes on, and on!
If you're thinking about this option, or have already asked a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, please make sure that everyone's working together to make sure they're in sync about the wedding ceremony's tone, timing, and logistics! We created a step-by-step workbook, and other resources on this site, to help you with the ceremony preparation process. And even if you don’t use all of our awesome books and training materials, make sure that you start the ceremony preparation process early, and do the necessary research so that you're comfortable and confident when the big day arrives!
Millions of Americans regularly attend a house of worship. For couples that fall into this category, there’s a certain appeal to the time-honored traditions of wedding bells, priests in flowing robes and organ music. And if that’s your cup of tea, we say go for it!
If you're getting married in a house of worship, your choice is probably going to be limited to the spiritual leaders who lead there. Churches are territorial. Even with limited choices, if you're closer to one of your spiritual leaders, then you should push for that person to be your officiant. Why? Because having a more personal connection to the individual performing your ceremony can lead to a more comfortable and meaningful ceremony!
And don’t be intimidated by titles. Here at AMM, ministers are just like everyone else. That means being open and communicative about what you want from the ceremony, regardless of who you are talking to. A member of the clergy might wear long cloaks and wear a cool hat, but when it comes to your big day, you’re the star!
So. How do you choose?
This is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when searching for an officiant who will deliver a wedding ceremony that fits you. If you decide that you want to have a religious/traditional tone or a partial religious/traditional tone, then make sure to meet specifically with people who have the necessary training, background, credentials, etc. If you decide you don’t want to have a religious/traditional wedding, than meet with only with folks who clearly communicate that they're not religious.
Remember, non-denominational is definitely not the same as non-religious. And keep in mind that if you find a religious officiant who says they can do non-religious wedding ceremonies, it can be difficult for someone with devout beliefs to deliver a wedding ceremony without any reference to it.
This is probably less of an issue in this day and age, with large numbers of reviews on sites like Yelp, WeddingWire, The Knot, etc. but it’s worth a mention; not only do reviews tell you how good the officiant may be, but they can give you a good picture of the officiant’s style and how their couples related to them.
By starting early, it gives you plenty of time to ask a loved one to officiate, or meet with the best professional officiants who usually book up more quickly. When meeting with officiants in person or via Skype, you can get a better feel for their personality, and understanding of how they'll work with you to prepare your wedding ceremony.
The Will You Marry Us? Gift Box helps couples ask friends and family members to officiate their wedding in style, and includes everything they'll need to perform your ceremony!
Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!