A wedding officiant is an instrumental pillar in every wedding ceremony. Besides presiding over the ceremony, the officiant oversees critical functions, including vows exchange, and sets the wedding tone.
Most importantly, they ensure the wedding fulfills all the relevant legal requirements.
In the long run, the choice of an officiant will significantly influence the success of your wedding.
Types of Wedding Officiants
Depending on the wedding ceremony you wish to have, you may choose a religious leader, a celebrant, a judge, a private officiant, or a family friend.
If you prefer a religious wedding ceremony, you will probably have a priest, rabbi, or spiritual leader officiating your wedding. You will likely marry inside a synagogue, mosque, or church setting, where you have little say in the ceremony. You will also conform to the customs and practices of your religious group throughout the ceremony.
On the other hand, if you want a secular or civil marriage, you’ll have a wider pool of officiants during the wedding planning. This is because such weddings are more flexible, allowing you to select anyone ordained or registered by the relevant authorities. In such instances, you can choose a professional officiant, a friend, or a close family member.
The Cost of Hiring an Officiant
Wedding officiants charge varying costs depending on the wedding venue, the level of wedding customization, and how long your ceremony lasts. Other officiants will also consider the size of your audience and travel costs when quoting their prices.
If you opt for a religious officiant, you may not pay a dime, especially if you are part of their congregation. However, they may request you to sponsor a donation or charitable activity to the religious organization. Similarly, a friend or family member may officiate your wedding ceremony for free, except for a small token to appreciate their services.
On the other hand, if you don’t hire a family member, friend, or spiritual leader, you may need to set aside some money to cover the cost of hiring an officiant. Generally, most couples allocate at least 2% of the wedding expenses to pay an officiant.
How to Find a Suitable Officiant
Finding a suitable officiant requires an in-depth evaluation of essential qualities. For example, it would be best to have a qualified individual who keeps your audience entertained throughout the ceremony. Additionally, you should find comfort in collectively working with the officiant as a couple.
Below are essential tips to help you find a suitable professional:
Interview Prospective Candidates
The interview process allows you to hear different voices and interact with the candidates.
At this step, you can make your intentions for the wedding beforehand. For example, your potential officiant should be aware if you wish to spice up your wedding with some humor or comics.
The interview also allows the officiant to know you better as a couple before the wedding. For example, the officiant may want to understand how you met, what you like about your union and your most memorable moments. Others may also ask your friends and families for their opinions about your planned event.
Find Genuine Reviews and Referrals
Getting honest reviews and referrals about their services is essential to finding a reliable officiator.
For instance, if you are dealing with a wedding planning company, it may be sensible to read some reviews and biographies on their website. Here, you will learn what happy or dissatisfied clients say about the company.
Alternatively, you can talk to your friends, colleagues, family members, or other couples who previously hired the company. Ask about their experiences, whether they were satisfied and if they can vouch for the company.
Check the Officiant’s Skills and Qualifications
Wedding moderation is a combination of many interpersonal and professional skills. First, ask if your potential officiant has adequate training on wedding moderation. Although formal training is not a legal requirement, it is an asset, especially if the officiant is a trained wedding expert.
Presiding over a wedding also comes with legal obligations and roles. For this reason, an ideal officiant should have a practicing license or be legally recognized by state laws to preside over a legal marriage.
Besides formal training, an officiant should have public speaking and relationship skills. Ensure the officiant can confidently address the guests when required and project every word articulately.
If the audience feels bored during the ceremony, your officiant should be able to light up the event. An excellent way to understand the officiant’s presentation skills is to watch how they handle other wedding ceremonies.
Consider Your Values
A difference in values can significantly affect your wedding if not sorted out in advance. For example, if you opt for a religious wedding, you may find a conservative officiant who insists on specific word choices when exchanging your vows.
Therefore, evaluating and ensuring your values match your officiant’s values is vital. If you aren’t familiar with your officiant’s fundamental values, you may ask for a script that captures the vows and words you’ll use in the ceremony. If you have reservations about the vows, let your officiant know beforehand, so you moderate what to include.
As you can see, the success of your wedding ceremony depends significantly on the type of officiant you hire. As such, you should carefully evaluate your choice during the planning phase.
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