How to Choose the Right Officiant for Your Wedding

by Karen Rinedollar

The following is a top ten list of helpful suggestions of things to know when choosing an officiant (the person performing the wedding ceremony). If you are not getting married in a church, finding the right officiant will be the responsibility of you and your fiancee.

  • Is the officiant available the date and time that you plan to be married?
  • Is the officiant willing to travel to the site where you plan to be married?
  • Does the officiant feel comfortable performing a wedding that accurately reflects the religious or spiritual ideals that you and your fiancée share?
  • Does the officiant have a web site so you can learn more about them and their services?
  • Is the officiant willing to meet with you and your fiancée for a complimentary consultation?
  • Does the officiant have a set ceremony that they use for everyone or are they willing to work with you to orchestrate the ceremony of your choosing?
  • What kind of background does the officiant have in the wedding business?
  • Is the wedding officiant warm and helpful during your phone/email/in person questioning?
  • Is the wedding officiant able to provide references of past clients they have married?
  • Finally - the price. Couples often make the mistake of making this their "priority one" question. Remember, you often get what you pay for. An officiant is the person who will be performing one of the most important events in your entire life. Do you want to trust that celebration to a bargain-basement, perhaps fly-by-night officiant? This is the person who is going to be there to guide you through the ceremony. It's normal to be nervous on your wedding day. The ability to provide leadership with tenderness is a valuable quality; one that should not be undervalued and one that should be sought in your officiant. If the officiant will give a rate over the phone (many won't until after meeting you and hearing the details of the ceremony), make sure they clarify exactly what the price entails.

Does the price include a rehearsal? Some couples want one, others don't. It is not unreasonable for the officiant to have additional charges for a rehearsal as they may have to turn down other ceremonies in order to accommodate your rehearsal and it usually takes more time to rehearse than the actual ceremony.

Does the price include travel fees? Couples planning a nice intimate wedding in the mountains may be shocked when they hear the quote. Unless the officiant lives in the location where you want to be married, a significant amount of travel time may be incurred. So the short and sweet mountain wedding you are planning may require an officiant to be in the car for an extended period of time not including time for consultation, preparation and the actual ceremony. An officiant may require lodging if the location is remote and ceremony in the early morning or later in the day.

What is their cancellation policy? Remember, once you have booked with an officiant, they will be turning down other offers for ceremonies for that date and time. It is normal practice to forfeit your down payment if you cancel the ceremony. Some officiants may exchange for a different time and date if they are available -- but not usually at the last minute.

You will be doing yourself, your wedding and the Officiant an injustice by focusing on price as a starting point. Waiting until the last minute is not a good plan to chose an officiant. Like a fine restaurant, the best ones often book up early. If a couple has gotten engaged, even if the date or site are still in the undecided mode, it is not too early to start looking for the right officiant for you!

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