How to Choose Your Wedding Officiant
This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime. We want to thank our friends at OURS and Julie Nguyen for sharing this great content.
Planning the wedding of your dreams is filled with joy — and yes, a bunch of tiny little logistical details as you interview professional vendors to help you pull everything off. OURS knows that it takes time to find the right caterer or photographer, but choosing the right wedding officiant rarely gets the same attention. As a proactive premarital counseling company for happy couples, OURS is all about sprinkling a little bit of magic on your relationship to make it feel that much more meaningful, loving, and worthwhile.
Through their work and research, they’ve heard from thousands of couples about what it means to take the next step together. They’re sharing the top 5 questions to help you to choose the perfect wedding officiant, plus a few pro tips to keep in mind before your big day.
First off, what is a wedding officiant?
A wedding officiant is an official who marries the couple during the wedding. Outside of legalizing the day, a wedding officiant is a de facto emcee in establishing the flow of a smooth ceremony. They assist with rehearsal, manage the timeline, perform the wedding script, add in special requests, and also function as your support system through wedding prep and on the big day.
Although wedding officiants can sometimes be an afterthought, choosing the right wedding officiant shouldn’t be the last thing on your to-do list. The officiant is a crucial element in shaping the energy of the ceremony since they’ll be standing right next to you both as you exchange vows. Because of the big role they’re playing, it’s important you can trust their expertise and experience to co-create the kind of ceremony you want to have.
How to choose your wedding officiant
Here are the top five questions you both need to ask before saying yes to your officiant.
Should I use a friend or a professional?
There are pros and cons to asking a friend vs. a professional to officiate your special day.
A professional wedding officiant offers the expertise to sort out your wedding logistics. They can also help you with deciding how you’d like your ceremony to feel based on the speech they’ll be giving. They usually have a few ceremony speeches to choose from, or can offer assistance in putting together one that fits you as a couple. If you are opting to hire a professional, research local wedding officiants and their reviews in your area.
A close friend will be able to provide personalized touches and anecdotes that a professional who doesn’t know you well won’t. If you are opting to use a friend, it’s best to plan ahead, and it may be wise to divvy up the logistical responsibilities that may have otherwise been given to a professional officiant by having an additional coordinator help with rehearsal logistics. If you are opting to use a friend, it’s important that they, and you, do thorough research to be sure they secure the right paperwork and spend plenty of time preparing and practicing so they feel confident hosting in front of your guests. And make sure to ask them well in advance to give them plenty of time to work out any paperwork, speech writing, and other necessities for them to be your officiant.
Do you have the same values?
A wedding officiant may ask you to complete online training classes or some type of premarital counseling program together. Since the officiant is determining the readiness of your marriage, it’s important you and your partner spend an adequate amount of time with your officiant. Outside of mandated meetings, arrange some time to go through any of your questions or comments. At the end of the day, the wedding officiant is there to serve and help you both feel seen and supported every step of the way.
Non-religious or religious officiant?
Depending on your respective religious backgrounds, take the time to decide how you want to honor your beliefs on your special day. For religious ceremonies, you can look for referrals in your own community to meet your expectations. If you are interfaith, you can refine your search to ministers who specialize in blending together multicultural couples. If you decide a non-religious ceremony is the way to go, there are plenty of professional wedding officiants who can perform secular ceremonies.
Are they a good public speaker?
When you select a wedding officiant, you’re ultimately hiring a storyteller who can move you through the ceremony with style and confidence. While their background and experience level may vary, it’s essential they have strong public speaking skills and an ability to roll with the punches. The officiant should have the know-how to deal with unexpected situations, like if the flower girl gets lost as she makes her way down the aisle or if your partner fumbles over their vows. If your prospective officiant has officiated weddings before, ask to see a clip of the event to see them in action.
What are their credentials?
In the court of law, your wedding can only be recognized if your wedding officiant has the proper license. To avoid hiccups, take a look at their credentials to guarantee they are registered in the municipality or state you’re getting married. You can even go a step further and ask the officiant for references on previous weddings they’ve performed to talk to other couples about their experience. Another tip? Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and work together on the ideal ceremony structure. After planning, it’s a good rule of thumb to ask for their day-of scripts and the included readings so you feel aligned with the overall vision.
Making It Official
Choosing your wedding officiant requires some consideration and discernment, but the upfront work can dramatically change your wedding experience for the better. The right wedding officiant will provide you with the resources you need to feel secure about your relationship. OURS does the same thing — just without the intensity of a looming wedding deadline. We believe it’s never too early to proactively invest in your relationship, like how it’s never too early to pick out your officiant when you begin your wedding planning process.