Choosing who will officiate your wedding is a deeply personal decision and one that should be done with care. The person officiating your ceremony will set the tone for your wedding and the start of your marriage, so it’s important they understand what you are looking for in a wedding ceremony, and honor your wishes.
A religious ceremony may be important to you, or maybe you want a more personalized ceremony, or you may even want a friend or family member to officiate. Whatever aspects of the ceremony that is important to you needs to be honored by your officiant.
Whether you want your wedding officiant to be a religious officiant, a civil officiant, or a family or friend, here’s everything you need to know to find and choose a wedding officiant.
For Those Wanting a Religious Wedding Ceremony
If you’re planning to have a traditional religious ceremony, the selection of wedding officiants to choose from will be somewhat limited. For example, if you want a Catholic ceremony in a church, you’ll need to get married by a priest or deacon. For those wanting to get married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, you’ll need to get married in a synagogue by a Rabbi. Whether you are Muslim wanting to get married by an Iman or are Indian, and want to be married by an Indian priest anyone who wants a religious ceremony will have to seek out those who practice their faith.
Even those who plan to have interfaith ceremonies will face some limitations as you need to find clergy who are willing to perform interfaith wedding ceremonies.
It’s important to understand that even though you might face some limitations for religious ceremonies, you still have some options. Here are some tips on how to find the right religious wedding officiant for your wedding ceremony:
Meet with a Variety of Officiants
Unless you have a relationship with a member of the clergy or attend worship services regularly you might not even have a particular church or house of worship you want to be married in. The first thing you want to do is decide where you want to get married. Once you do this, the next step is to actually interview potential officiants. Look for someone you and your fiance feel comfortable with, and someone who makes you feel at ease.
Find Someone Who Understands Your Preferred Ceremony Style
Of course you need to find a wedding officiant that aligns with your faith, but you also want someone who understands your wedding style. If you want a very serious ceremony or conversely, a light-hearted ceremony the officiant should not just understand this, but be willing to work with you to do this. Some religious wedding officiants may not be interested or okay with doing anything but a serious ceremony, which may not work for you. You also want the person who officiates your wedding to understand what religious aspects you want incorporated into your wedding. This might include things such as readings, whether you’ll take communion, unity ceremonies, or even the length of the ceremony.
For Those Wanting a Secular Wedding Ceremony
For those who plan to have a secular ceremony, many of the guidelines from above will apply to you, however there are a few additional factors you should take into consideration.
Decide if You Want to Be Married By Someone You Know
If you are having a secular wedding ceremony you have the option to get married by a family member or friend, or by a civil servant like a justice of peace. For those who want a very personal ceremony opting for someone you know to officiate your wedding is ideal. If you go this route however, it’s important that you verify they were legally ordained so your wedding is official. You also need to make sure that all location requirements are met.
A pro to a family member or friend marrying you is that your wedding will be highly personalized. A con may be if this is their first wedding, they may be nervous or have trouble during the ceremony.
A civil servant on the other hand is likely experienced and knows exactly what they’re doing, the downside is they are a stranger and you won’t have as much of a personalized ceremony.
If money is a factor, a family member or friend may be the best option since it’s unlikely that they will charge you.
Make Sure They Understand Your Vision
Officiating a wedding is a big deal, your wedding officiant will need to meet with you and your partner a few times before the wedding, write out the ceremony schedule, and message if you’re planning to have one, attend the rehearsal, and officiate on the big day.
So if you do decide to ask a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, it’s important to make sure they know what they’re in for. If your family member or friend is already overwhelmed at the thought of it, you may not want to ask them to take on this responsibility. In those cases, it’s best to find a different wedding officiant.
Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Officiants
When interviewing potential wedding officiants, here are some questions to keep in mind:
- How many weddings have you officiated?
- How long have you been an officiant?
- Will you give a sermon/homily/speech?
- Can you officiate an interfaith ceremony? (If applicable)
- Do we have to get married in the church/synagogue/mosque?
- Can we write our own vows?
- Is there a donation we should make to the house of worship/do you charge a fee?
- How often will we meet?
- Do you personalize each ceremony you officiate?
- What does your typical ceremony outline involve?
- Can you help us with our vows?
- What will you wear?
Remember, your wedding ceremony is about you and your fiance celebrating the start of your life together as a married couple. Don’t be afraid to be a little particular and ask questions so you will be completely happy with how your wedding ceremony goes.