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How to Find the Perfect Wedding Officiant

Published Wednesday, Apr. 10th, 2019

Funny image of a man on a beach holding his hand up to block the sun, as if 'searching' for something -- a wedding officiant, perhaps?
Searching for a wedding officiant? Follow this advice to find the best match for your ceremony and style.

How to find the perfect wedding officiant for a ceremony that reflects your personal values and beliefs



You probably have a pretty good idea of what you want your wedding to look like. Perhaps there are certain family members or children you want to include. Maybe you're considering the popular and meaningful sand blending ceremony. Or, maybe you are thinking about something a little bit different - like a fire unity ceremony!


But where do you look for a wedding officiant that can turn your ambitions into reality?


For couples who believe the wedding ceremony is one of the most significant parts of their wedding -- that’s you, our readers -- the question of who should perform the wedding ceremony is a very important one.


Being officiants ourselves, we've guided our share of couples through this process, and we’ve collected some tips to help you decide what sort of officiant is best suited for your big day.



Here are a few points to consider when choosing a wedding officiant... 



Should you ask your local Priest, Imam, Rabbi? 


Choosing a clergy member to officiate your wedding makes sense if you have a strong affiliation with a particular branch of worship, or if you're choosing to do it for family reasons.


This is something you should be discussing early on, and since families often bring together a range of religious outlooks, we wrote an entire article on how to navigate this delicate exchange. 



An old painting, showing religious figures in a church administering rites to members of the congregation

Tradition, perhaps it's your cup of tea?


If you're getting married in a house of worship (such as a church or temple), your choice will probably be limited to the spiritual leaders that are affiliated with that particular institution. But even if your options are limited, your choices here matter.


Choose a spiritual leader that you're closer to, or that seems to worship in a way that jives with you, and ask them to be your officiant. Having a more personal connection to the individual performing your ceremony can lead to a more comfortable and meaningful experience.


Of course, AMM exists in large part to accommodate the needs of couples that don’t want clergy involved, and who instead want wedding ceremonies outside of mainstream religious institutions. That said, what matters most is that you find an officiant that shares your values and beliefs. If that means asking Father Capparelli from your local Catholic Parish, then more power to you!


We want you to have the best ceremony possible -- and that means the most personal ceremony possible.



Should you hire a Professional Officiant?


When hiring a professional wedding officiant, you first need to decide how much religion and tradition you want in your ceremony. This is the key to finding someone who will deliver a wedding ceremony that fits you. If you decide that you want to have a religious/ traditional tone, or a nonreligious/ non traditional tone, you'll want to meet with people who have the proper background and show it on their website. If they don't have an online profile or portfolio, just ask! 


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 FaceTime, Zoom or Skype, you can get a feel for their personality and hear how they will work with you to prepare your wedding ceremony.

There are other indicators that an officiant is a good or bad fit for you, in terms of their worldview. Are they traditional, LGBTQ+ friendly, or sensitive to the politics and dynamics of your life and the ceremony? Make sure to ask these questions when they're important to you, because there are professional officiants of all stripes, and you want one that speaks to you on a personal and/ or spiritual level. (Of course, being ordained through AMM is always a good indicator that a professional officiant is the right one for you!)


Research your options carefully, and read reviews from other couples online. Officiants reviews can be found on Yelp, Wedding Wire, The Knot, and other online forums. In addition to telling you how good the officiant may be, online reviews can give you a good picture of the officiant’s style and how their couples related to them.



A happy couple clasp hands at their outdoor wedding ceremony. The bride wears a white dress, and looks down , smiling happily as she takes her vows . This wedding is being officiated by IAPWO President Rev. Laura C. Cannon
IAPWO President Rev. Laura C. Cannon (pictured above), who contributes to this blog, is an examplary professional officiant!


Should you ask Friend or Family Member to Perform your Wedding Ceremony? 


Here’s where American Marriage Ministries comes in, and of course, we saved the best for last!



Creating a memorable wedding ceremony is all about chemistry, and chemistry is about relationships. For many couples, those relationships are already decades old. We can almost guarantee that you have a friend or relative that shares your values and beliefs, and who would be honored to stand up there and officiate your wedding.


Our advice? Ask them! 


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 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. 


A wedding officiant performs a beautiful outdoor wedding for friends, standing on the steps of a white painted gazebo

This couple bonded with their friend-officiant over their shared love of Harry Potter! Read about their fun theme wedding in this article. 



Another important point is that if you are asking a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, you need to give them the tools and support they need to create and deliver the ceremony. That means helping them write the ceremony, and making sure that they have ample time to review the words and practice them.


The earlier you start, and the more energy you dedicate to this task, the better your ceremony will be. It’s that simple. 


Of course, this is where we plug our bestselling book Asked to Officiate, because with tens-of-thousands of successful ceremonies to its credit, it’s the easiest way for first time officiants to write and perform wedding ceremonies.


If you're asking someone to officiate your wedding, putting this book in their hands is the ultimate vote of confidence! 



We hope that these insights help you to begin your wedding officiant search process and makes the search a little less daunting.


As always, we’re here to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and comments.



Updated January 2022


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Which Type of Wedding Officiant Should You Choose? 

Minister, friend, relative, or paid professional -- Which type of wedding officiant should you choose? Take this quiz to discover what kind of wedding officiant is the best choice for your ceremony based on your personality, values, faith, venue, and more!



Young couple married outdoors by a friend

Lewis King
Lewis King

Lewis is AMM's executive director. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling, restocking the sparkling water, and watering the office plants.

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