How to Choose a Wedding Officiant

A wedding ceremony with 2 brides.

There are a lot of details that go into planning a wedding, but choosing a wedding officiant is one of the most important aspects. The person who handles the job of marrying you and your fiancé has a big job! You need them to be fully qualified, which means they must be ordained and comfortable handling a wedding ceremony.

Finding the perfect person to conduct your ceremony might take a bit of searching, but there are things you can do to narrow down your options and make it easier. Here are five tips to help you choose a wedding officiant who will enhance rather than hinder your ceremony and your special day.

1. Choose a Religious or Secular Ceremony

A priest placing his hand in blessing over a bride and groom's hands.

Just because you’re planning a wedding doesn’t mean you have to go traditional. The ceremony can be anything you want it to be. While weddings are traditionally religious events, you can opt for a secular ceremony instead. Whatever your preference, you want to be sure you choose an officiant who’s comfortable and willing to perform your desired ceremony. That means going with an officiant who’s willing to perform a secular ceremony if that’s what you want, or going with an officiant who’s willing to perform your preferred religious ceremony if that’s what you’d like. Choosing what type or denomination—or choosing a secular ceremony—will narrow down your options a lot. If you and your spouse come from different backgrounds, you may even want an officiant experienced with multicultural weddings.

2. Create a List of Candidates and Research Them

Find qualified officiants in the area where you plan to have your wedding. Create a list of them and do some research on their processes and specialties. If you have someone in your family or friend group who is ordained, you can even ask them if they’d be willing to take on the responsibility of marrying you. Always make sure your wedding officiant is prepared to handle the legal aspect of the wedding ceremony. They must have all the required licensing from their state of residence for the marriage to be valid. Do your research properly and don’t hesitate to ask various officiants questions.

3. Get to Know Your Officiant

Your wedding day is important, and whether you like it or not, the ceremony makes a big difference in the atmosphere of the day. The officiant is largely responsible for setting that vibe. Getting to know your officiant on more than just a superficial level can help you ensure they’re going to set your day up for the success you have in mind. Schedule a phone call or meet them in person. Ask them what they’ll talk about, how they’ll handle your vows, and even what they believe in (religiously or secularly). You want to make sure the person legalizing your marriage supports you and your spouse in the best way possible.

4. Make Sure They Can Publicly Speak

A female wedding officiant holding a Bible.

The last thing you want is to hire an officiant to handle your wedding ceremony…only for them to choke up the day of. You want a confident speaker who can talk clearly and efficiently. They need to understand your desire for the day and to be able to translate that for everyone to hear. While the most important thing is that you get to marry the love of your life, the wedding officiant must be able to translate your unique message and ceremony to your guests.

5. Make Sure They Can Communicate With You

A lot of wedding officiants are used to how a marriage ceremony goes, but you want to be sure you choose an officiant who’s willing to work with you and your schedule. Before you hire someone, make sure they’re open to communicating with you about your day-of schedule, vows, and preferences. Make sure you’re all clear on their fee, any premarital counseling that’s required, and what they’re responsible for on the day of the wedding. Some officiants have more requirements for their couples than others, and some are more expensive than others, so make sure you can communicate clearly with your desired officiant before choosing them.

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