Choosing the right wedding officiant is essential and knowing what to ask them is crucial to discover if you are a match. The officiant sets the tone and reflects the emotions and feelings between you and your spouse. It is imperative that you all ‘click’ to enjoy the experience of creating the vows and reciting them on your wedding day.
What should I talk to my wedding officiant about?
Be open and honest with the officiant. Share your history as a couple and all the aspects of a wedding ceremony vital to you. The officiant is there to guide you, represent you, and marry you, not judge you. Be true to yourself and each other and ensure the officiant understands and can best deliver the ceremony you have envisioned.
10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant
Ok, so you have narrowed it down to one of two officiants. Here is a sampling of questions to ask the officiant before you hire them.
Are you available on our wedding date?
This may sound like a silly question to start with, but you’d be surprised how many couples ask that question late in the process. If they are not available, ask for a recommendation.
How many weddings have you done?
Ask the question and keep an open mind. Everyone has a first time, and no couple wants to be their first. However, take into consideration the feeling you get from the officiant. Did you connect? Did you like them? Most importantly, did you trust them to work with you to create a uniquely personal ceremony?
How do you create the ceremony?
Most officiants will have both options available. Many couples find the traditional vows very comforting and stress-free. Other couples wish to create vows that reflect their love and relationship. Be sure to discuss this upfront, so you have time to decide or write your vows.
Can we write our vows, and will you help us?
Many officiants do not write wedding vows. They perform the ceremony using traditional vows or vows written by the couple and given to the officiant in advance. Wedding planners and bridal consultants often handle the wedding details, and even the caterer ensures everything is perfect but defer to professionals to write the vows and speeches. I will absolutely help you write and practice your vows. I work one-on-one with every couple on the content and delivery of their wedding vows. The delivery is just as important as the words themselves.
Will you officiate in conjunction with a religious figure?
When a couple has mixed religions or half with no religious affiliate, an officiant is often asked to perform the ceremony in conjunction with a Rabbi, Priest, or Minister. Be sure to ask the officiant if they will perform the ceremony under these circumstances. Most do not have any issue with it at all.
How long will the ceremony be?
The average length of a ceremony is only about 30-45 minutes in length. Non-religious ceremonies are often quicker, and hybrid ceremonies with a religious reading or passage can be slightly longer. Discuss your desired ceremony length, and the officiant will work with you to deliver within the desired time frame.
Are you available for a rehearsal before the wedding?
Most officiants will perform the rehearsal but may differ to the venue staff or wedding planner to rehearse. Be sure to communicate in advance that you would like them there for the rehearsal, so they do not book another wedding the day or evening before.
Do you prepare and file our marriage license?
Each state has its own laws, and some even vary from county to county. Be sure to discuss the process with the officiant, so there are no wedding day surprises. A couple who intends to be married in New York State must apply in person for a marriage license to any town or city clerk in the state. Both applicants must sign the application for a license in the presence of the town or city clerk. A representative cannot apply for the license on behalf of the applicant. This applies even if the representative has Power of Attorney.
What happens in case of an emergency?
If an illness or unforeseen circumstance occurs, ask the officiant if they have a backup to fill in for the ceremony. Be sure to get the contact information in advance, just in case.
What do you charge?
Officiant fees vary depending on the time commitment required. Pre-marital meetings and discussions, travel time, rehearsal, and rehearsal dinner commitments add up and are billed accordingly. Ask your officiant for a detailed list of services and pricing. Do not be afraid to question or negotiate. Most will offer packages to cover the entire process.
Know what you are looking for in an officiant
You are armed with questions and are prepared to interview officiants. Take your time and balance out those who give the correct answers to those who connect to you as a couple. The ceremony is much more than words. It conveys a feeling of love, honor, and trust between you and the officiant is the catalyst. Meet with them, interview them, and then, as my Dad would say, “What does your gut tell you?”