Your friends and family may be more interested in talking about your reception plans, but it’s important to remember that the ceremony is really what the whole wedding day is about. As such, booking an officiant is likely the most significant decision you and your future spouse will make regarding the wedding.
The officiant shapes the entire ceremony, setting the tone for the proceedings. A wedding officiant needs to align with your personal beliefs and deliver a ceremony that feels right for your wedding day. Even if you choose to write your own vows, an officiant will still recite a speech beforehand. In fact, writing your own vows makes it particularly important to take special care in booking an officiant, as you would not want his or her message to clash with the vows written by you and your beloved.
If it’s time to book an officiant and you aren't sure where to start, read these tips:
• Start interviewing candidates between nine months and one year ahead of time, as you want to have the opportunity to get to know the person before committing.
• When interviewing, meet in person if possible, or at least over a video call. Is his or her manner of speaking going to distract you? Is there a natural chemistry, or is conversation awkward and stilted?
• If you want a more personal and less traditional ceremony, look into alternative officiants. Religious couples who desire a traditional ceremony should look within their own community for a perfect fit.
• If you are considering having a friend or family member officiate your ceremony, make sure they have public speaking experience and are comfortable in front of crowds. You don’t want your officiant to have stage fright on your wedding day!
• Find out if you will be able to provide input into the ceremony, or at the very least, approval over the words. Even in a traditional ceremony, you may be able to make adjustments for wording that makes you more comfortable (i.e. “husband and wife” instead of “man and wife”).
• If your officiant needs to travel, make sure he or she will be able to sign your license. Check the laws of your wedding location well before the ceremony, so you have ample time to get your affairs in order.
• Always read reviews! You can also ask your other vendors for recommendations: they work a lot of weddings and have plenty of recently married contacts.