How to Hire Your Officiant
Your wedding ceremony is the most serious, intimate part of your day, so naturally, it can also be the most nerve-wracking. I mean, finding THE person who is meant to join you and your fiancé in holy matrimony — that sounds like a search that could take years. But it won’t. Once you start to think about it, the right officiant for you will either be obvious immediately, or you can use one of several different resources to find him or her.
A Religious Ceremony
The simplest thing is to ask your minister, priest, rabbi or head of your congregation to officiate. Call his or her office and set up an appointment to meet soon after you become engaged to make sure that your date isn’t already reserved for another wedding or event. And also, it is important that your comfortable and at ease with your choice of officiants. You are by no means obligated to be married by the head of your congregation, though if you want to be married by someone else in your own house of worship, you may have to negotiate or settle on certain terms.
If you don’t have someone that comes to mind immediately, talk to friends about the officiants they used. Some will only perform a ceremony for members of a specific religious affiliation, while others are more flexible. That is something you will obviously need to know right away. You can also ask the advice of a professional wedding planner (your own if you are using one, or one recommended by somebody else).
Once you have a few names, arrange meetings with your prospective officiants. Have a list of questions ready. For instance, one of the first things you will want to know is how he or she typically approaches a service: Is a speech or sermon given, and can you offer input if you like? If you want to add personal touches, such as writing your own vows, would he or she be comfortable with that?
As awkward as it might feel to talk about money, it is a subject you must bring up to prevent any awkwardness later. If either the bride or groom is a member of the congregation, you may not need to pay a clergyperson (though if this is the case, it is usually in good form to invite the officiant — and spouse, if applicable — to your reception. For non-members, there may be a fee of several hundred pounds, depending on where the wedding is taking place. If there are travel expenses, those would typically be covered by the bride and groom or their families.
A Civil Ceremony
A non-religious ceremony can also be performed by clergy or by a judge. As you would for a religious ceremony, sit down with your prospective officiant and make sure that you all agree upon the elements that will make up the service.
As with a religious service, the cost of having a judge or other government official will vary depending on the locale. The fee may vary if the officiant goes to the site or if the ceremony takes place at city hall.
Always ask an officiant about his or her training and experience. It’s perfectly fine to ask how many weddings he or she has performed. If you are being married by a minister or other church official, keep in mind that some religions may require premarital counselling. If so, ask if it is included in any fee involved, which, by the way, is customarily handed over by the best man after the ceremony. (Again, make sure to get all fees and details in writing to avoid any awkwardness or confusion later.)
Would he or she be available for at least one rehearsal?
Can he or she show you written examples of other services performed?
Does he or she ever work with wedding vendors (photographers or florists, for instance)? You are under no obligation to hire these vendors, but if you are still unsure about who you will be using, it might be good to have the contacts.
Finally, as you “interview” various officiants, pay close attention to their voices. After all, the “voice” of your wedding should be a beautiful one, eloquent and pure. That voice should transport every person in attendance to the beautiful future the two of you will share.