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What To Look For In A Wedding Officiant

What To Look For In A Wedding Officiant

By Jeffrey House Photography


Your wedding ceremony is the most important part of the wedding day!

This is the moment you exchange vows and demonstrate your love, and commitment.  A heartfelt moment shared with family and friends.

It's the moment you dedicate your life to another person.

The person presiding over your ceremony has a great responsibility.  They can create a ceremony that's deeply heartfelt, genuine, and memorable or they can deliver a ceremony that's awkward and does little to accurately represent you and your partner.

We're going to take a closer look at what to look for in a wedding officiant!  

What Is The Difference Between An Officiant And A Religious Officiant?

Before we get started, let's first understand the difference between an officiant and a religious officiant.

An officiant is usually a person that completes a course of study online through a college or company.  Theey specialize in the art of performing wedding ceremonies.  Many of the curriculums offered by these colleges and companies are excellent, and they do a great job in properly educating, training, and preparing officiants.

A religious officiant is a priest, minister, reverend, pastor, rabbi, etc.  They are all ordained professionals.  They have received their formal education and credentials from a specific denomination.  Their credentials come from a seminary, church or ecclesiastical college.  


How To Choose Your Officiant

There are several details to consider when choosing your officiant, as they will set the tone of your wedding ceremony.  Let's take a look at the different aspects you will need examine before making your final decision.

Personality and Comfort

Like many of the choices you will make when planning your wedding, the personality of your officiant is vital.

While their actual time involved in the wedding is limited, their impact is significant.

It's important your officiant has a personality that makes you feel comfortable and completely at ease.  You want them to be someone you can trust to guide your ceremony with your best interests in mind, and they won't pass judgement on your union.  

Consider Your Own Spiritual Beliefts As Well As Alternative Options

Fewer couples are opting for ceremonies in a house of worship and it's becoming common place to have your wedding ceremony at the wedding venue.  

This doesn't mean you can't have your priest, minister, rabbi or clergy member from your faith preside over the ceremony, however, they may have specific requirements for such situations.

While you may want a very specific ceremony, you may find they aren't able to adapt to your specific needs, so it will be critical to speak with them to ensure you fully understand what they can and can't do.  

Find A Partnership

As you begin to plan your ceremony, it's likely you will want it to include certain language, readings, and rituals.  For example, many couples today aren't comfortable with the language "man and wife;" therefore, they change the language to "husband and wife."  

It's important to clearly communicate your wishes to your officiant.  A good partnership means they will make every effort to demonstrate their understanding and consideration of your input.  

Officiants will vary with their openness and willingness to include your ideas for one reason or another.  If you like a particular officiant, but they aren't willing to do everything you want, you may need to make some concessions.  

It's imperative that any officiant you work with provides a clear vision as to what the ceremony will look like.  This will help to prevent any unwanted preaching or surprises during the ceremony.  

Be Flexible And Respectful

It's unlikely you will find one officiant that can meet your every single need; therefore, it's important to remain flexible.  You will need to decide ahead of time what details are most important to you and which ones you can live without.  

You may find many officiants are unwilling or unable to create the exact ceremony you'd like, especially religious officiants.  If they feel you're requesting something that doesn't support their faith, you absolutely must respect them and their beliefs.  

While this is a business relationship, it's a sacred relationship too!

The Marriage License

When deciding on an officiant, make sure they are empowered to sign your marriage license to make your union legal.  Every state has different procedures and requirements.  

Some religious faiths conduct a "spiritual" ceremony, but they expect you will take the necessary steps to make your marriage legal in the eyes of the state.  

So, before you choose your officiant don't make any assumptions, always ask to be completely sure.

Get It In Writing

When it comes to planning a wedding, you're going to have many in-depth conversations with a lot of people and remembering the specific details of every conversation is impossible.  

While many officiants don't use a formal contract or officiating agreement, you still want to make sure you get the details of their services in writing.  If you agree to include specific language, readings, rituals, etc., you want these details outlined in writing.  

When Should You Secure Your Officiant

Like most wedding professionals, you'll want to secure your officiant at least 9-12 months in advance.  This will ensure you have plenty of time to conduct your interviews and choose an officiant that best meets your needs and the needs of your wedding.


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