There are lots of reasons for throwing a wedding celebration. It can be a great party! A chance to see family and friends! An excuse for a weekend getaway! But to state the obvious, the main reason people throw a wedding is to get married. And in most places, you’ll need to have a designated person who will actually make the wedding official. This is your wedding officiant, the person who will be in charge of the ceremony portion of the event.
The official and legal parts of getting married may not strike you as the most fun. But the right wedding officiant can make the wedding ceremony so much more than just going through the motions. If you do your research and vetting like you would with any other vendor, you can find a wedding officiant to perform the ceremony that your awesome wedding deserves.
What type of wedding officiant do you want?
Who can act as your wedding officiant and how they are required to perform the ceremony will depend on where you live. (You can click here to find out more details about recognized officiants in the U.S. by state, courtesy of The Spruce).
The important first step is choosing what type of officiant you want to have. Once you’ve decided that, you can look up officiants in your area to talk with them about what kinds of ceremonies they perform and do the proper vetting.
Here are the main types of wedding officiant:
- For couples who want a religious ceremony, this is usually the way to go. If you’re having your wedding in a religious venue, this may also be your only option.
- Some religious officiants may provide (or require) couples counseling beforehand.
- Usually perform services for free or a small fee.
- Civil Servant
- A common choice for a secular wedding ceremony.
- Depending on where you live, this can be a justice of the peace, a judge, a magistrate, etc.
- Usually have a set fee for preforming weddings.
- Interfaith minister or humanist celebrant
- Interfaith ministers may be ordained by a church they are often willing to work with you to make your wedding as religious or secular as you want.
- Humanist celebrants perform a completely secular ceremony. You may have more freedom to decide what exactly is said.
- Since many of them are professional officiants, they may have a more polished delivery with lots of personality.
- Friends and family
- It’s possible in some areas to have a friend or family member perform the wedding ceremony.
- It’s relatively easy for a first-time officiant to get ordained online. Check out our guide to getting ordained online in 6 easy steps.
- Since they may have little or no experience with officiating weddings, practice is essential.
- If a family member or friend can’t “officially” marry you, you have the option of seeking a civil servant to marry you privately before the big event.
Other Important Considerations
Your wedding officiant should be someone you’re comfortable with.
Just like with other vendors, your wedding officiant will be part of your wedding team. They’ll be in charge of conducting the wedding ceremony and guiding you through your wedding vows.
Their experience with officiating weddings
You should especially ask about the officiant’s experience with wedding like yours. Are they comfortable with the details of your wedding? Run through all of the steps to make sure. Ask for video of them officiating a wedding so you can get an idea of their style.
Practice with the officiant
Your wedding officiant should be able to attend your rehearsal to make sure you’re all on the same page before the big day.
You can always choose to officially get married by a civil servant beforehand.
This can give you more freedom to conduct your gathering with family and friends exactly how you want. It may even be necessary if you are planning on a destination wedding a foreign country.
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