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12 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant Before Signing a Contract

Published Wednesday, Nov. 30th, 2022

Este articulo en español

Two grooms hold hands during the wedding ceremony while their wedding officiant smiles, holding the wedding script

Ask the right questions to find the right officiant for your wedding!




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AMM Audio Articles · 12 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant Before Signing a Contract





You and your wedding officiant will work closely together during the months and days leading up to your ceremony. They’ll ask you questions about your relationship, what marriage means to you, and the type of ceremony you want. 


This special person will help set the tone and mood of the wedding day. They’ll greet your guests, guide you through your vows, and sign your marriage license, making your marriage legal. Depending on where you get married, they might even be responsible for filing your license with the clerk’s office.


Related: ...So What Does a Wedding Officiant Really Do?


That’s why it’s so important to find a wedding officiant you can trust, who understands exactly what you’re looking for, and who can deliver the style of ceremony you’ve always dreamed of. 


Many couples ask a close friend or relative to officiate their wedding, but others hire a professional officiant. Professional officiants bring a variety of services, specialties, and personalities to the table. 



Related: 5 Great Reasons to Ask a Friend to Officiate Your Wedding


Since no two wedding officiants are exactly alike, it’s important to ask a few key questions before signing a contract. The questions below are a great place to start when meeting with an officiant for the first time, and you can modify them to include any special requests. 


Remember: Your officiant will have questions for you, too. Before you meet them, decide on the date, time, and location of your ceremony and how much you can afford to pay. You should also consider whether you want a religious or non-religious wedding, if friends will participate, and how long you want the ceremony to last. 



A wedding officiant holds the ceremony script while looking up at the sky, behind him are green bushes and other wedding guests, one guest holds a trumpet. The outdoor ceremony is about to start.

Ask the right questions to find the right officiant!


12 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant 


1. Are you available on our wedding date? 


The first thing to ask an officiant is if they’re available at the date and time of your wedding. If they can’t make it to your wedding, they can’t marry you!


2. Can you legally perform a marriage ceremony at our chosen location? 


Every state has its own laws about who can officiate a wedding there. Professional officiants know this, and they’ll be able to show you their credentials (such as a minister ID or ordination certificate) if requested. If your state is one of the few that requires officiant registration, confirm with your officiant that they’ve completed this step. 



3. Can you create a personalized wedding ceremony script for us? 


Ask your officiant if they can personalize your ceremony with details about how the two of you met, what marriage means to you, and dreams you have for the future. Some officiants prefer to use a simple wedding ceremony script for the couples they marry, and others write a custom script for each couple. 




Close up photo of a wedding officiant writing a ceremony script with a pen on paper. She has white finger nail polish and a forearm tattoo

Will your officiant use a pre-written ceremony script or write something just for you?


4. Can we see the wedding script before the wedding day? 


This one might surprise you! Some officiants will ask for your feedback on their wedding script before the big day, but others prefer to keep the exact wording of their script private until it’s time to deliver the ceremony. Both of these are common business practices. 


So, if you want final approval on the ceremony script before the wedding, or, if you want the ceremony wording to be a surprise, just make sure that you and your officiant are on the same page before you sign a contract.


5. Do you have a ceremony portfolio or examples of your work?


Ask your officiant if you can see photos of weddings they’ve officiated or copies of old wedding scripts to get an idea of the type of services they provide. An officiant’s portfolio might be included as part of their website or displayed on their social media pages. Some officiants will also have a business listing with online reviews to share other couple’s experiences, but not always.


Related: How to Get Your Wedding Published in a Magazine or Blog


6. Can you perform a religious / non-religious wedding?


First, decide if you want to include any religious rituals, readings, or wording in your ceremony. Then, ask your wedding officiant how much experience they have performing a wedding of this type – very religious, slightly religious, or not religious at all. Some officiants specialize in a specific denomination or religion’s wedding practices (such as Pagan weddings, interfaith weddings, Jewish weddings, etc.), some have experience with all types of weddings, and others only perform non-religious weddings. 




A young couple is married by a wedding officiant wearing a black robe and large Christian cross

What type of wedding do you want:

Very religious, slightly religious, spiritual but not religious, or secular?


7. How many times do we meet before the wedding?


Ask your officiant how many times you will meet with them before the wedding to discuss the ceremony. The more personalized your ceremony is, the more details you’ll need to discuss before the big day, so make sure you’re all on the same page ahead of time. It’s helpful to put all these dates into your calendar as soon as possible, to ensure everyone’s available on those days. Ask your officiant if you’ll meet in person, over the phone, or by video conference. 


8. Will you attend our rehearsal ceremony? 


Many wedding officiants will attend a rehearsal ceremony for an additional fee, if it’s not already included as part of their standard wedding package. Although it might cost a little more, we always recommend asking an officiant to attend your rehearsal to give each of you a chance to practice where to stand and move, the ceremony order, and any unfamiliar unity rituals.


Related: Advice for Officiants: All About Wedding Ceremony Rehearsals


9. What’s included in your officiant fee? 


Wedding officiants provide many different services, some of which you might not even realize they’re doing! Ask your officiant about additional fees for travel (mileage, tolls, etc.), attending a rehearsal ceremony, writing a custom wedding script, writing custom wedding vows, premarital coaching, personalized marriage certificates, and other services. 


Related: Wedding Officiants: Learn How to Provide Premarital Counseling and Relationship Coaching Services




A young hip couple embraces on the wedding day, he has his hear up in a short pony tail and wears sungalsses, she has red short hair cut into a pixie with a white wedding dress on

Decide if your wedding will be formal or casual, and let your officiant know what you'll be wearing.This will help your officiant choose what to wear to perform your ceremony.


10. What will you wear to officiate the wedding?


This one will probably be more of a conversation than a question, and your officiant’s answer might depend on what you and your guests plan on wearing to the ceremony, so that everyone is dressed at the same level of formality.


Consider how formal or informal your wedding will be, the level of religiosity, whether it will be outdoors or indoors, and seasonal weather trends, and be ready to give your officiant this info so that they can choose an appropriate outfit. On the other hand, some wedding officiants officiate all their ceremonies in a classic outfit, such as a black dress or suit and officiant’s stole. 


11. How will you handle our marriage license?


It’s important that your officiant is comfortable with the paperwork side of things. It’s your responsibility to apply for your marriage license and bring it with you on the wedding day, and it’s your wedding officiant’s responsibility to complete and sign your license after the ceremony. Depending on where you get married, you or your officiant will be responsible for returning the completed marriage license to the clerk’s office. 



12. What happens if you can’t make it to the wedding?


Ask your officiant what happens if they can’t make it to your ceremony at the last minute. Do they have a backup officiant in mind who can step in for them? Will you be refunded some portion of the fee if they cancel? These details may or may not be included in their contract, so it’s important to understand what to expect if something unexpected happens, such as an illness, family emergency, or traffic delays. 


To guarantee you have a great backup officiant in place, ask a bridesmaid or best man to get ordained with AMM before the ceremony. That way, they’re ready to step up if you need them.







How to Work Best With Your Wedding Officiant


Photo of a rustic outdoor sign with the words 'happily ever after' written on it, and the letter i is dotted with a red heart



Learn how to work closely with your wedding officiant from day one, til the wedding day! These tips will help you create a great relationship with your officiant and create a personalized wedding ceremony that really honors you and your love. Read the full article. 



Propose to Your Wedding Officiant! 

The "Will You Marry Us?" Gift Box 

Product image of the American Marriage Ministries 'Will You Marry Us?' gift box

This sweet gift box includes everything your chosen wedding officiant will need to perform your wedding ceremony: "Will you marry us?" greeting card and envelope, embroidered stole, copies of the American Marriage Ministries Minister Manual and Asked to Officiate workbook for writing a custom wedding ceremony, custom tote and lapel pin, and all the required minister credentials (Odination Certificate, Letter of Good Standing, Minister Licensing Instructions,  Licensing Application Materials). 




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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