Unlike most of your other wedding vendors, your ceremony officiant will be right alongside you and your spouse for the most important moment of your entire day—your actually marriage. Because of this, it is extremely important to find an officiant that you and your fiancée are very comfortable with.
Where To Find Your Wedding Officiant
For couples that regularly attend church and are very close to your pastor, this is possibly your easiest wedding planning decision. Just be sure that this person is available for your wedding date. If you are getting married in your hometown church but are getting married by your current pastor, be sure that you can bring in an officiant who is not based out of that church. Oftentimes, the pastor of a church is the only person who will officiate wedding ceremonies at their church. However, if you get married in your home church, the pastor of that church is generally a good choice to officiate your ceremony. Again, be sure that the pastor is available for your wedding day and make sure that you are comfortable with him or her.
If you do not have connections to a pastor, a local search on the internet will always yield many results. Choose a few who seem the most intriguing, and then ask if you can meet with them face to face. At this meeting have a number of questions prepared so ensure that they fit within the vision of your wedding ceremony.
Questions To Ask Your Officiant
Will you marry us if we are of different faiths?
This could only be a problem if you are being married in a religious ceremony. In today’s world, there really are not any faiths that outright ban interfaith marriage, but it is important that your officiant knows this up front. If your officiant will act as a marriage counselor, this will become a very important point of discussion. Knowing that you and your fiancée are of different faiths may also affect the sermon he or she gives during your ceremony.
Will you marry us if either of us have had a divorce?
Some religions do not allow remarriage after a divorce unless the divorce has been properly ended. Be sure to discuss this with your officiant if this applies to you.
Will you marry us if we are not active members of this church?
Some officiants do not like you to come into their church just to get married. It can make their facilities seem more like a wedding factory that a place of worship. Generally, if you are coming back to your hometown church, this is not an issue.
Do you require any sort of marriage preparation?
Many officiants and especially officiants in certain denominations will require marriage counseling. For some faiths, like the Catholic Church, a number of counseling sessions and a few other classes are required. It is best to understand what is expected of your and your fiancée while you prepare for your future marriage. If your church does not mandate counseling, many officiants just want to ensure that you and your future spouse start your life together on a good note.
This may seem like an unimportant task, but marriage preparation classes will usually bring up issues that you and your fiancée have not yet discussed. Finances, raising children, and religion are usually some of the more important topics that are discussed. Use these classes as an opportunity to get to know you future husband or wife better.
Will you give a sermon? Can we have any input to its contents?
Most officiants will give some sort of generic sermon at most wedding ceremonies. If your officiant personally knows one or the both of you, chances are the sermon will be more personalized. It certainly does not hurt to ask if you can have some input or suggestions for their talk. Some can be flexible, while others will want to give a sermon that is wholly their own.
Can we write our own vows?
Unlike in the movies, there are some churches that do not allow you to write your own vows. If this is something that you really wanted to do, you could possibly modify your vows and give them for your reception speech.
How long does a ceremony usually take?
This logistic question will be very important for your wedding day schedule. If you want a full church service, your wedding could take about an hour, but if you just have a few readings and a sermon, you could be in and out in less than thirty minutes.
Can we choose secular readings and music in our ceremony?
If you are getting married in a church, you may not be able to include any non-religious readings or music. These may just have to wait for the reception. Of course, all officiants that are not religiously affiliated will be open to any readings. Be sure to make your wedding what YOU want. If your officiant has restrictions on what you can say or do during your ceremony, you must remember that there will be many opportunities to integrate these into your reception.
Can you give us any suggestions for wedding readings?
Your officiant should have a wealth of resources and ideas to help you find the perfect readings for your wedding day. Be sure to use that to your advantage.
Do you charge a fee or only take donations?
Be sure you understand how to pay your officiant. If they only take donations, be sure to give them something shortly after your wedding.
Will you facilitate a rehearsal?
Usually the day before you wedding ceremony, your officiant will run a rehearsal. This will help everything run just a little more smoothly on during your ceremony.
Will you join us for the reception?
It is generally common courtesy to invite your officiant your reception. If they attend, the officiant will generally be honored with saying a blessing over the meal.
In addition to your wedding officiant, here is a quick list of all of the other vendors you must book for your wedding day: