I'm in love with wedding ceremonies. They're honestly my favorite part, and I wish more couples came into wedding planning pumped up about creating an amazing ceremony than wanting to focus on the reception. I get it, who doesn't love a good party?! But there have been and will be plenty of good parties, and you only get one wedding ceremony. And let me tell you, after two and a half years of marriage, I remember my ceremony vividly while the reception was a beautiful blur.
If you're not sure why you should be excited about your ceremony, think about your love story. Look at your partner and the journey you've been on. Think about your favorite memories, hobbies, dreams. And then think about all that "you-ness" being woven into a beautifuly written story. If you're not pumped yet, you need to have a date night pronto.
So who's going to be the one to tell your story?
If you have a place of worship you regularly attend, you may have an ordained religious leader whom you have a relationship with - it might be an easy choice for who will officiate your wedding! Others consider having a family member or friend officiate, but we encourage couples to check state laws before going this route (in NC, online ordination isn't considered legal). Or maybe no one in particular comes to mind, but you know you want to hire a professional officiant so you can have a wonderful ceremony with none of the stress.
So how do you hire the right officiant? First, you have to figure out what you actually want your ceremony to feel like. You may have thought about how beautiful it will be, and how much fun the reception will be, but have you thought about how you want to feel during your wedding ceremony? In that short window of time when it's just you and your partner, eyes and hands locked for eternity in a moment, tears blurring the edges of your vision, with only a voice to keep you grounded to the moment, what do you want that voice to say?
Will the voice speak of marriage and its virtues, of it's beauty and challenges? Will the speech be religious or secular?Will it speak of what marriage has always meant, or what it means to you and your partner? Will it share passages from religious texts or favorite poems, Star Wars quotes or a line from your favorite novel? Will you hear your love story shared, depicted as a love story for the ages, as the funny adventure it's been, as a story of joining two hearts and families? Will there be more than one language, or more than one speaker? Do you want your ceremony to be romantic, entertaining, uplifting, serious? Will your time together be brief, or will the ceremony be long, or on top of a mountain, or in a private home?
When you have a clear idea of who you want, it becomes much easier to find the perfect officiant to fill that space. If you ask me for an officiant who is bilingual, or who will dress in cosplay, or who has a great southern accent that reminds you of your grandpa, I've got you covered. If you want someone who will craft a beautiful story after asking just a few questions, or who has a perfect little garden in her backyard where you can elope, I know the perfect person. And if you want an officiant who is LGBTQ friendly, I've got a whole list for you, boo.
Whether you find a few officiants through word of mouth, research, or through a vendor connection, you'll want to ask a few questions to make sure they're the right fit for your ceremony. After all, it's a once in a lifetime celebration of your love story, so we hope you find the perfect person to fill that role.
Are they available?
Before you start asking any other questions, you'll want to make sure they're available for your date and time. Many officiants work multiple weddings on a day, so if you don't have a set ceremony time, chat with your top choices and see what times are available to you.
Will you be the person present at the wedding, or do you have a team?
Will you be working any other weddings that day or weekend?
Are you willing to work at my venue, or do you only perform ceremonies in your place of worship?
Are you legally ordained?
Price & Logistics
There can be quite a range in prices for officiants, with price factors like years of experience, demand, client service, additional services like rehearals and premarital counseling, and more. We encourage you to have a conversation with your potential officiants about their rates so you can fully understand what is included.
What is your rate for a standard ceremony, and what does that include?
What is your most popular package? And what are the alternatives?
Do you come to the rehearsal? Does your rate include this?
When are payments due?
What is the refund policy if our wedding needs to be postponed?
Creating the Ceremony Speech
If you want a no muss, no fuss ceremony so you can get to the I do's and become a married couple, many officiants have ceremony templates available for lower prices, so you'll get great delivery of a traditional ceremony with your names in it. If you want to get a bit more personal, chat with your officiant prospects about their speech creation process. You'll also want to make sure the officiant is comfortable with any religious or cultural traditions you want to include.
What is your ceremony writing process like? How much input do we have?
How many times will you meet with us before the wedding?
How do you learn about our relationship?
How personalized will our ceremony be?
Are there any restrictions with respect to the music, readings, unity ceremonies, etc?
How are interfaith marriages handled?
Will we see a copy of the ceremony script beforehand?
About how long are your ceremonies?
Ceremonies have always been beautiful and special, but as we experience a changing world where the future is more uncertain than normal, I hope that people begin to cherish the celebration in a wedding ceremony. Even as our weddings get moved around and rescheduled, hold tight to the knowledge that your marriage ceremony does not need to be postponed. Elopements allow you to marry the love of your life whenever, wherever, with whomever, as beautiful and you as can be. You can celebrate your marriage with a reception later, but there's no need to wait for your marriage to begin.
Want more help selecting the best vendors? We would love to help you put together an amazing team of wedding vendors. Let's chat :)
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