Selecting your wedding officiant is an important decision – after all, they will have a huge influence on the tone of the ceremony. You’ll want to make sure that you find someone who is willing to perform the kind of ceremony you are envisioning, or who has a style and belief system similar to your own.The first thing you and your intended bride or groom must do is decide if you want areligious or secular ceremony . This highly personal decision will obviously impact who will marry you. Get a sense of their personality, then ask if you can meet with them to get a better sense of the kinds of weddings they perform.
Furthermore, make sure that the person you are choosing understands the seriousness of the task you are giving them. You won’t want a friend making inappropriate jokes at one of the most important moments of your life.
If you already have a family clergyperson, or you’re getting married in a house of worship, your choice is relatively straightforward. I suggest still meeting with that person to discuss the questions below and making sure you’re comfortable with them.
Questions for the Officiant:
How much are we allowed to customize the ceremony? Can we write our own vows?
Will you marry us even if we are not current members of a church/synagogue/etc?
If we are of different faiths, or one of us is not religious, is that a problem?
One of us is divorced, does your religion allow you to marry us?
Are we required to attend any classes or counseling before the wedding?
Will our non-religious friends be allowed to participate in the ceremony, including giving readings, singing, or (if appropriate) taking communion?
How will you be dressed for the ceremony?
If your officiant is a civil official, simply call their office and ask what the going rate is.. On average, professional officiant fees range anywhere from $500-800. Keep in mind you’re paying for the added reliability and insurance of a celebrant who comes with experience.
There are many reasons why I love officiating weddings and chief among them is that I love stories. Every couple not only has a story; every couple is a story. The first question I ask when meeting with a couple is, “so, how long have you been together and how did you meet?” And that’s when the storytelling begins!
As the meeting progresses, I’ll ask a “bunch” of questions as I try to get a sense of who the bride and groom are — individually and as a couple — and I try to get a sense of what they want their ceremony to be like.
Most couples aren’t sure what to expect from our meeting since most are used to formal, religious weddings performed within a religious building. Since they’re often not sure what they want, they’re not always sure what to ask me.
Some couples have done their “homework” and come with a checklist of questions that include, how long have I been a wedding officiant; how was I ordained; how many weddings have I performed; do I attend the rehearsal; do I require pre-marital counseling; what’s included in my fee; am I married; and what is the back-up contingency if an emergency arises and I can’t make the ceremony.
These are all basic questions and if an officiant isn’t able to give clear answers to them then you might want to move on to another officiant! However, as important as these questions are, they don’t tell you the story of who this officiant is.
I find that many couples aren’t sure how to have a conversation with me beyond asking about the mechanics of the ceremony. And so, what I suggest is that you interview your officiant from a place of curiosity and encourage them to tell their story.
Here’s a list of ten questions that you can use as a springboard for conversation that will let you gain insight into the person who may share with you one of the most intimate moments in your life as a couple — the moment you exchange vows!
Questions that get to the “soul” of an officiant:
A wedding ceremony is a unique experience in that it actually is one of the most intimate moments of your life together and yet it’s being played out in one of the most public of settings. And so it creates a relationship between you and the officiant that is unique and intimate in a way unlike any other relationship.
Of course, if you just want the legal aspect of your wedding taken care of, then it really doesn’t matter who “marries” you. But if you consider the ceremony as the core of your celebration, then you want to invite as your officiant the man or woman who not only “gets” you, but who you “get.”
I tell couples that I’m not going to pretend that the three of us are old drinking buddies, but, I want their guests to have the sense that we’ve established a relationship. So make sure that your officiant is curious about your story and that you’re equally as curious about his or her story!