The crisp days of December will soon morph into Christmas Eve. A week later, New Year’s Eve. Six weeks from then, Valentine’s Day. What do these three days have in common? They are, in order, the second, third, and top day of the year most likely for couples to become engaged. Say it with me, “Awwww.” Gildshire Magazines gets it, though. You won’t find a more sentimental online magazine in the cloud than us. We still get misty when the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life” gets his wings. Imagine how we become when someone drops to a knee and proposes in front of us. For those happy couples, we have a present. It is our guide to choosing a wedding officiant. Enjoy, and may we add, you two look radiant!
1. First things first, and even before you choose the officiant. Settle on the expectations you and your fiancé have for your ceremony. Do you want it to be traditional or modern? Will there be any religious aspects? What about the length of time? On a related note, will there be music within the ceremony? Compare and contrast weddings you’ve attended, as well as family tradition and expectation (that can be an article all on its own) to be sure you’re on the same page.
2. Ask for recommendations. If you have already booked a professional photographer, he or she can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to weddings and officiants. After all, the picture takers have seen it all and have the negatives to prove it. If you are considering a wedding planner, they can be of help, as well.
3. Online Reviews: Everything is reviewed nowadays. Wedding Officiants is a searchable Google topic just as surely as Thai Restaurants in Paris, Texas is a topic. While not every five-star officiant is the right one for your wedding, the reviews will give you a general idea of the officiant’s vibe. Friendly, professional, or laid back? Hip and young, or experienced and avuncular? Reviews can help. Better yet, some officiants have YouTube videos up of the ceremonies they have performed.
4. Interview Before You Book: Reviews and videos are great! They aren’t the be all and end all, though. In person, you can get a feel for someone like you can’t any other way. Typically, the officiant is invited to the reception. If you can’t imagine a casual conversation about anything other than the ceremony, you might want to keep looking.
5. Doublecheck the Legalities: In some states, the courtesy clerk at the local QFC can marry you. Other states require a license with the state and/or affiliation with a religious or fraternal organization. Make sure to know the requirements in your state and the requirements where you are getting married if it is a destination wedding. Choosing an officiant does no good if he/she will result in a marriage not recognized by law.
6. Ask About the Officiant’s Expectations: This is an important one. Some officiants expect just a few people at the rehearsal. Others are fine with a free-for-all. Some officiants book two weddings in one day (This is especially common on Saturdays in June.) In that case, he/she will require that everything runs on time. Other officiants are more flexible, willing to bide their time if Aunt Mabel is having a hard time getting up the hill. Some will even schedule a wedding time “officially” with a wink to the couple that it will really get underway ten minutes later. (Couples with an Aunt Mabel like that.) Remember, this is a team effort and the wedding train won’t move without the wedding conductor. Sure, it’s “your special day,” but cooperation and teamwork go a long way on this day…and every other day of your marriage, come to think of it.
7. Clarity is Key: Officiants are, for the most part, very flexible when it comes to the actual words in the ceremony. Is there a special anecdote you need to be included? Have you written your own vows? Do you, or your fiance’, expect to have some nerves on the big day? Be as clear as possible with the officiant. Like the photographer we mentioned earlier, he/she has seen it all.
Choosing your wedding officiant well goes a long way toward a smooth-running wedding ceremony. It won’t solve the great issues of marriage (like toilet paper over or under), but it is a great start to a great wedding. You did great in choosing your partner. As far as choosing an officiant, you’ve got this! Namaste’.