How to choose a Wedding Officiant
On how to choose a wedding officiant. The choice of a minister/officiant for your wedding is a highly personal decision. After you’ve researched and reviewed many celebrants the choice should be easy… But then again, maybe not.
How to Choose a Wedding Officiant
Choosing a Wedding Officiant… and Fees…
From the officiant’s standpoint – mine, of course – the choice should be based on several factors…Here are some questions you should ask when interviewing a wedding officiant.
- Does the wedding officiant’s personality blend with yours? If you are talking to someone for the first time, and the person is interested in your wedding details and is interested in you and your intended’s wants, needs and desires, that is a good start! However, off-color jokes, abruptness or focusing on only one aspect of the wedding – money – then that person is probably not a good fit for you.
Officiant Availability. This point covers TWO aspects.
- Availability for booking on your wedding day and time… and availability for you to contact and/or speak with them when you have a question. If the officiant is available for your wedding date and time, that should be confirmed from the very start and should be very easy to answer. If not, do they have another wedding officiant to refer you to and will they do so? If so, you have found someone who cares about you as a bridal couple and not just as a source of income.
- Are they available via phone, email, facebook/twitter, website contact, etc? Everyone has a schedule and appointments, however, you should be able to get a return phone call or message within a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable? Depends on the day… if weddings or rehearsals are being held – usually Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but not exclusively – each and every couple deserves the undivided attention of the minister/officiant during their rehearsals and absolutely undivided and focused attention before and during the ceremony – phones off !!! Messages can and should be returned before and after these events, as soon as possible.
- This point is fairly obvious, but, then again, maybe not. If the person speaks professionally on the very first phone call, that is a huge plus – if not, then you may be better off calling someone else. And of course, the officiant must be dressed appropriately for your ceremony – if you are having a theme wedding, that should be discussed beforehand how you want the officiant dressed; if a casual wedding, what do you want the celebrant dressed in; formal – suit appropriate!
Wedding Officiant Pricing
- This is always a difficult discussion, and totally understandable. Of course, I believe the ceremony is the most important part of the entire day – I would, wouldn’t I! – and while my rates will probably not be the lowest of the choices, the care with which I treat all of my clients is highly personal and unusual!
- You will absolutely find officiants who are cheaper – notice I didn’t say less expensive… Some are higher. It seems as though you are only paying for 15-30 minutes of the officiant’s time for the fee – but, are you?
The time that goes into the ceremony is not always obvious:
- Initial conversation and time on the phone with the prospective wedding officiant – anywhere from five to ten minutes on up to a couple of hours.
- Meeting time (including travel to and from), if requested, with the wedding couple – depending on location, this could be anywhere from two hours up to five hours (again, including travel time to and from).
- Time developing, creating and editing the ceremony and the drafts – including email and phone time concerning the editing – time working and follow-up with emails/phone calls and questions that may or may not be related to the ceremony itself… where can we have the wedding? is it okay to have a memorial ceremony included for loved ones who have passed? … and many others.
- Rehearsal time – for me, not a requirement as many coordinators, planners and even family friends can help with the smaller size bridal parties – if you have someone who is very familiar with the process, this fee can be used elsewhere in the budget. If not, and you are worried about having a no-stress wedding day, then by all means, book the wedding officiant for the rehearsal! You will know for sure that your wedding ceremony will flow and be as beautiful as you have always hoped it will be.
Officiating the ceremony – Sounds easy… but…
Arriving early so the bride and groom do not stress is of utmost importance.
Being prepared for the ceremony… and open for any last minute changes – this is all part of the “professionalism” that should be required for your wedding officiant.
Checking in with the bride and groom to finalize any last-minute details and get the marriage license.
Double-checking the ceremony location and discussing any potential problems with the bride and groom – and getting them resolved!
Checking in with the venue, the coordinator/planner and the DJ so they know you have arrived and are ready to go so the wedding timeline goes smoothly.
Finding and getting the bridal party “rev’ved” (cute, huh?) and ready to go for both the ceremony and the reception.
Lining up for the ceremony with the bridal party, parents, grandparents, ushers, etc.
Officiate your ceremony! – Yep, this sounds easy too, but believe me, it’s a blessing and a very important job! The officiant should be prepared for anything – and able to handle any crisis during the ceremony. Putting the couple at ease is a very important part of the ceremony – everyone’s watching!
Post-Ceremony – The officiant’s job after the ceremony is to gently help the guests move over to the reception area so the couple and the bridal party and family can get all the pictures taken in as quick a time as possible – the guests, reception and dancing are waiting!!!
License follow-up – Depending on the couple’s wishes and needs, the officiant takes care of getting the license back to the county where the couple registered.
Our fees reflect many things and all of the above are part of the process. Having a professional and experienced officiant for your wedding day will take light-years of worry and stress out of the process. And our fees reflect this professionalism. This isn’t greed speaking, just the reality of time and care involved, which contributes to the quality of both the the finished ceremony and the process that leads up to it.
Part of the fees reflect the day and time of day that the ceremony is to be held – if the couple is flexible – i.e., morning or early afternoon weddings – then the fee will reflect that. If a rehearsal is not needed – in the couple’s viewpoint – then why have it? And if you have questions about the rehearsal and have booked us for the ceremony, ask away!!!
Wedding officiants pride themselves on going beyond the expected – both with the ceremony creation and all aspected before, during and after.
We have helped set up receptions – if we are sitting around watching everyone work and can help in any way, why not? We have helped move chairs and tables so the bride and groom can get ready for the ceremony.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Craig Claybrook for providing the information for how to choose a wedding officiant.