Of all the people who help you pull your wedding day together—florists, caterers, venue hosts, DJs, musicians—the ones you’ll spend the most time with on the actual day of are likely to be your photographer and your officiant.
As an officiant, I arrive early—I’ve done everything from setting up a guest table to mopping up a flooded aisle to corseting a bride! I check in on the couple, calm nerves, and help make last minutes decisions or changes.
And your officiant is the only person who for a golden twenty minutes you, your family, and all of your friends will give their full attention. In fact, the ceremony is your guests first experience of the day—and sets the tone for the rest of evening! It should be something your guest have to suffer through to get to the party; a good ceremony—with that perfect mix of laughter and tears —reminds everyone why they are there and gives them a reason to celebrate!
The point is this—your choice of officiant is really important. So what should you look for?
1) Find an officiant you like. Since you’ll be spending so much time together at a very special but potentially stressful time of your life, you want someone you feel comfortable with. It’s nice to be married by someone that you feel if you met them at a party, you’d be friends. Make sure he or she is willing to take the time to get to know you.
2) Find an officiant you can count on. This is where reviews help—you want someone with a proven track record of showing up. It seems basic but a fair number of weddings I do are last minute “I hired this person for $75 and now a week before the wedding, he says he can’t do it!’ or “My cousin said she would do it for me, but now she’s going to a conference for work.” I am not saying that you have to hire a professional—I’ve seen quite a few lovely weddings done by friends. Just find someone you know you rely on.
3) Find an officiant who is willing to personalize your wedding ceremony. You can find a JP or officiant-in-a-box who will give you a standard 5-10 minute ceremony. However, a personalized ceremony is more enjoyable, more fun, and definitely more meaningful—it will make your ceremony something people talk about through the party and through the years!
4) Find an officiant with a great presence. You need someone who can project with warmth and really connect with a group both for the rehearsal and the ceremony. You want someone who can be real and personable—not bombastic or an attention-hog.
5) Find an officiant who doesn’t have a personal agenda. Find out why they do what they do & insist on samples. Once an officiant told me that he always “throws in a little religion” even if the couples specifically says they don’t want it because it’s his job to “plant seeds.” Other couples come to me because the first person they chose wanted to use their wedding as a platform to advocate against gay-marriage. Your wedding should not be anyone’s podium for their personal religious or political agenda. Your wedding should be about you.
In short, find an officiant who wants you to have a thoughtful, meaningful, unforgettable ceremony that fits you as a couple and you’ll be smiling all the way down the aisle!