Choosing a Wedding Officiant: What (or Who) Are Your Options?
Finding the right wedding officiant is a very, very, very common problem. If that’s you… relax! We’re here to help.
For couples who believe that the wedding ceremony is one of the most significant parts of their wedding day, the question of who should perform the wedding ceremony is a very important one. In this blog post, we’ll cover your options, and pass along what we’ve learned along the way.
So, who's out there...?
A Friend or Family Member
It’s possible that you’re reading this blog because you were thinking of asking a friend of family member to perform your wedding ceremony. There are millions of reasons why couples choose this option. Being able to draw on people from your community to make your wedding awesome opens up a world of possibilities. All of a sudden you can ask your school teachers, college friends, colleagues, mentors, friends, older relatives… the list goes on.
If you are thinking about this option, or have already asked a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, please make sure that everyone involved (couple and the chosen officiant) are working together to make sure they are in sync about the tone of the wedding ceremony, the timing of everything (ceremony preparation timing and day of timing), and the ceremony logistics.
We believe in “no bad wedding ceremonies” (we should really trademark that). That’s why we created a step by step workbook and other guides to help you with the ceremony preparation process. But even if you don’t use our awesome books and training tools, make sure you start the ceremony preparation process early and do the necessary research so that you are comfortable and confident when the big day arrives.
You already work together... why not officiate too!
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. If that’s your cup of tea, we say go for it!
If you are getting married in a house of worship, your choice is probably going to be limited to the spiritual leaders who lead in that house of worship. Churches are territorial. Even with limited choices, if you are closer to one of spiritual leaders or one of them fits your personality and relationship better, then you should push for that person to be your officiant.
Having a more personal connection to the individual performing your ceremony can lead to a more comfortable and meaningful ceremony.
Also, 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. They might wear long cloaks and wear a cool hat, but when it comes to your big day, you’re the star!
A Professional Officiant
This is a tough one since “professional officiant” covers a wide range of officiants. There are clergy who work outside a house of worship. There are individuals who officiate as a full-time business. There are also individuals who officiate as a part time business. Then, there's everything in between.
Some of these individuals are spiritual or religious, but not technically clergy. Some of these individuals are not religious at all. Some of these individuals look at a wedding ceremony as a performance. And we could go on… So, how do you choose?
First, you need to figure out how much religion and tradition you want. 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 meet with people who have the proper background and show it on their website. If you decide you don’t want to have a religious/traditional wedding, than meet with people whose website specifies that they are not religious/traditional (note that non-denominational is definitely not the same as non-religious).
And remember, if you find a religious officiant who says they can do non-religious wedding ceremonies, be cautious… it is tough for someone who believes in something so devoutly to deliver a wedding ceremony without any reference to that belief.
Second, research your options carefully. This is probably less of an issue in this day and age, with large numbers of reviews on sites like Yelp, Wedding Wire, The Knot, etc., but it’s worth mention this since not only do the reviews tell you how good the officiant may be, but reading the reviews can give you a good picture of the officiant’s style and how their couples related to them.
Third, start this process early in your wedding planning and meet with the officiants you are considering before you hire them. By starting early, it gives you plenty of time to go through the selection process and it also allows you to meet with the best officiants who usually book up more quickly. And by meeting with the officiants in person or via Skype, you can get a feel for their personality and hear how they will work with you to prepare your wedding ceremony.
We hope that this helps you to begin your wedding officiant search process and makes the search a little less daunting!
And of course, here's the pitch! No matter who is officiating, it always pays to do your research and listen to the professionals. That's why we published Asked to Officiate. It's your one-stop-shop for ceremony planning, including how to get started, work with the couple, ask the right questions, where to stand, what to wear... and everything else. If you're wondering where to turn, we can't reccomend this book enough!
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