Couples: How to Work Best With Your Wedding Officiant
Published: Friday, Jan. 24th, 2020
Working closely with your wedding officiant is a must, but a lot of couples don’t quite know how to navigate or coordinate their timeline with their wedding officiant’s. We’re here to give you some pointers so that you know what to expect, and how to get a head start on your ceremony planning.
What Your Officiant is Responsible For:
• Working with you up until the wedding to craft your ceremony.
• Being present and performing your ceremony on your wedding day (and rehearsal, ideally).
• Assisting with the signing and filing of the completed marriage license.
First, Consider This
What type of ceremony do you want? Religious, Non-denominational, or Civil?
This will help determine whether you want to request the officiant services of a government official, a religious figure within your community, a professional wedding officiant, or a friend or family member.
• If you would like a civil ceremony officiated by a government official, you will want to contact your local municipal court to schedule an appointment.
• If you are hiring a professional, be sure to research several in your area to compare rates and whether their services are in line with your needs. You’ll want to know what is a fair price for the type of service you are looking for, in addition to the locale. You’ll want to note that most officiants charge extra for mileage and conducting/attending rehearsals.
• If you’re asking a friend or family member, make sure they know they will need to get ordained, and be sure they review their legal obligations and any registration regulations. (Our Will You Marry Us? officiant gift box is an excellent way to pop the question and get your officiant-to-be squared away on their credentials!)
Basic Ceremony Details to Discuss*
• Initial logistics; dates, times, location, and payment (if applicable)
• Marriage laws and registration policies (and be sure to order officiant credentials and or/registration requirements, if applicable)
• Additional unity ceremonies like hand fasting, ring warming, wine pouring, or special readings from friends or family members
• Your officiant’s plans for attire
• The marriage license
• We cannot stress this enough – but whether you hire a pro or have a friend or family member officiate, talk about a back-up plan! (What if traffic prevents the officiant from showing up? What if the ceremony script is forgotten?)
* It's worth noting that there's a substantial amount of time devoted to the discovery and research portion of writing the ceremony script. Our unique officiant guidebook Asked to Officiate provides detailed instructions and a variety of thoughtful questions for couples and officiants to consider together.
Rehearsal & Wedding Day
Speaking of things we can’t stress enough: it is crucial to have a complete run-through of the wedding ceremony so that everyone knows how to line up, where to stand, how to pace their walk down the aisle to the processional music, etc. (Most pro wedding officiants are so knowledgeable that they often end up as a stand-in coordinator, and are able to help assist with coordinating the rehearsal.)
Your officiant should be scheduled to arrive early on the day of the wedding to prepare for the ceremony and provide any additional assistance if needed. They should have multiple printed copies of your ceremony script, as well as a digital back-up available ready to download in a pinch.
The marriage license should be completed and signed promptly after the ceremony. Important things to note are: how long you have to return the completed license, where it must be returned to, who must return it (the couple or the officiant), and whether it must be returned in-person or by mail.
Remember: choosing your officiant wisely and working with them closely throughout the duration of your planning is the key to a successful wedding ceremony. While most wedding ceremonies are only 10-20 minutes long, there are countless details and words – especially when crafted and practiced with care – that can make it memorable enough to last a lifetime.
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