How to Find and Work with a Great Wedding Officiant!

, How to Find and Work with a Great Wedding Officiant!

When you are ready to take on the much-awaited, yet monumental task of planning your wedding, there are so many moving parts to navigate! Most essential is deciding on the date you want to tie the knot, and then you must decide if you want to hire a planner or take on the joyful, yet sometimes heavy- lifting yourselves.  For some couples, it is fun to work together to do their research and find just the right venue, caterer, florist, band, DJ, photographer, etc.. Websites like Zola, the knot and Wedding Wire can be most helpful in exposing you to experienced vendors who offer their services near the location of your wedding. Those websites and others like them also post actual reviews of those vendors by other couples who have used their services in the recent past.

If you have decided to exchange your vows in coordination with a church, synagogue, mosque or other formal house of worship, you will not want to wait until you are too close to the wedding to make arrangements.  In addition to making sure that the date you have chosen is available, you also must know what else must be done to fulfill any requirements to be married within that religion.  It is likely you will work with a member of the clergy there to plan and make sure that everything is in order before the big day.

By choice, many couples will opt out of a church ceremony and prefer to appoint an ordained officiant to assist them in conducting their ceremony and delivery of their vows.  Sometimes, a friend or family member of the couple can quickly become ordained online and can serve as their officiant.  Alternatively, a couple may prefer to hire someone who is a professional officiant.  Professional officiants do charge, but their fees are quite low in comparison to other wedding vendors like photographers, florists, hair and make-up people and DJs, etc.

If you are planning to have your ceremony on the beach, your backyard, at a state park or in a banquet hall or other non-church venue or if you wish to engage someone who is not affiliated with any set religion, an officiant might be the way to go.  You can find professional ordained officiants on wedding websites like the knot and wedding wire, and also by just googling “wedding officiants near (wherever the ceremony will take place)”

In selecting an officiant, it is important to find someone who wants to work with you to make sure that your vows and ceremony reflect your personal vision and values.  A good officiant will want to get to know you a bit well before the wedding and understand the type of ceremony that you envision.  Do you want it to be very religious, mildly religious, not religious at all, spiritual, traditional, more contemporary, have a bit of humor, include family members and friends doing readings and/or traditions, such as unity candle lighting, etc? Your officiant can also help you to understand the requirements for obtaining and filing your marriage license in the jurisdiction in which your wedding will take place.

Once your officiant has these and other details in hand, he or she can draft a script of the entire ceremony and vows and make sure it meets your approval in enough time before the wedding for any changes to be incorporated.

As you contemplate working with an officiant be aware that he or she will want to know a few things about you and the logistics of your special day.  Most officiants will provide you with an all-inclusive price quote once they understand exactly what you want.



Aside from the obvious— the date, time and location of the wedding— these are some of the details that your officiant will want to know to in preparing a proposal for your  ceremony flow:

How many guests do you anticipate?

Dress code- Formal?  Beachy?  Backyard casual?

Will there be a bridal party?  If so, how many?

Will there be a processional with music- or will the bride and groom already be standing before the officiant as the ceremony begins?

If a processional, will the bride be escorted by someone and offered in marriage?

Will venue provide sound equipment if needed?  If not available through the venue, your officiant may have equipment he or she can provide.

If music, who will coordinate the music during the processional and recessional ?

Any family or friends not able to be there (e.g., deceased, active military) whom we want to mention?

Will there be any readings by family and friends?

Will the couple want to recite their vows or repeat them after prompting by the officiant?

Will rings be exchanged?

Traditions included like a unity candle, hand fasting, jump the broom etc.?

What is the time period for obtaining your license in the jurisdiction of your wedding?



How did you meet and how long have you been together?

When did you know the other was “the one”?

What makes each of you special to one another?  Any lovable quirks to include?

Why do you work well as a couple?

A little humor or no humor?

Will you write your own vows or will you ask the officiant to draft them for your review and approval?

Just as – and maybe even more —important as the reception music playlist, how you work with your officiant will determine just how memorable your vows and ceremony will be for you as a couple and your guests.  I was married almost 35 years ago and from time to time I take out a frayed copy of our vows and ceremony (there were no videographers back then!) and it always brings a warm feeling, reminding me of all the reasons that marrying my husband was and still is one of the best things that ever happened to me!

Congratulations to you for a lifetime of love and happiness!