The wedding ceremony is the “Main Event” of the day and you want to make sure that your guests remember it for all the right reasons. That’s why your selection of an Officiant is so important. You want to make sure that your Officiant is professional, experienced and capable. In addition to having the right chemistry with you and your fiancé, you want an Officiant with good public speaking skills, the ability to relate well with other people and who has respect for you, your beliefs and your wishes. So, how do you find such a person and what should you look for?
1. Experience. The Officiant’s experience is very important. An Officiant with limited experience may not know how to handle the unexpected such as a misplaced ring, a disruptive guest, a malfunctioning microphone or any of hundreds of other possible problems. Can he conduct a rehearsal and answer your questions about wedding traditions?
2. Credentials. Make sure that your Officiant meets the legal requirements to perform a wedding in your location. There are certain legalities that must be met for a wedding to be valid and the Officiant should know the requirements.
3. Religious Beliefs. Is the Officiant willing to perform inter-faith marriages? Are you expected to conform to his beliefs or is he open to other views? Will he work with you to develop a ceremony that respects the views of both families?
4. Flexibility. Are you able to write your own vows? Is he willing to personalize your ceremony? Can you add a sand ceremony, hand fasting, rose exchange, etc.? Are there restrictions on what can be said or done during the ceremony?
5. Moral Criteria. Does the Officiant require pre-marital counseling? Will he perform your wedding if you are you living together, have a child, are expecting, or been through a divorce?
6. Availability. In addition to having your wedding date available, is the Officiant available and willing to attend your rehearsal? Is he available to meet with you before the ceremony? Will he accept emails and phone calls from you? Do you feel that the Officiant truly cares about you and your wedding plans?
7. Appearance. Is the Officiant well groomed and professional looking? What will he wear during the ceremony? Will he wear religious robes or clerical collar or will he wear a suit? Is he open to wearing something special to compliment your theme?
8. Cost. Fees vary from state to state and even within a state, but are normally in the $200 to $400 range. This is usually the least expensive, but most important item in your wedding budget. Officiants spend many hours meeting with you, preparing for your ceremony, attending the rehearsal and ceremony, plus there are travel costs with high gas prices. You may find an inexperienced Officiant at a lower cost, but the memory of a ruined ceremony will last longer than the good feeling of a low price.