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Priest Approaching With Open ArmsThe COVID-19 pandemic has prompted couples to host simpler weddings. Some forgo traditional trappings and focus on what matters most. But elopement, minimonies, micro weddings, or larger celebrations all require one basic element: an officiant. This short guide offers some useful advice for choosing an officiant who best fits your wedding day vision.

Know Where and When To Look

Knowing the type of wedding you want is the first step in finding an officiant. If your traditions dictate a religious ceremony, you’ll probably need to choose a minister from that faith. You should check with your house of worship first — not just for available clergy, but also for specific doctrines regarding weddings.

Depending on your faith’s canonical requirements, you may be able to choose an officiant ordained through nondenominational religious organizations such as the Universal Life Church. Many independent officiants in wedding vendor directories are ULC ministers. You’ll find clergy who solemnize both religious and nonreligious weddings.

Timing is also key when you’re seeking a minister to solemnize your wedding. Start looking no later than nine months before the big day, says wedding planner Krisy Parker Thomas. You can begin your search earlier, but don’t contact officiants sooner than 12 months prior to your celebration.

Compile a List of Candidates

Your next goal is to find three to five officiants who seem to fit with your wedding-day vision. At this stage, you should gather as much information as you can on each one. Nearly all independently operating officiants have either websites or vendor pages detailing their services and fees. If they’ve included photo galleries on their websites, be sure to take a look at those as well.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to also check out officiants’ social media pages. You may see photos from past weddings, video clips, and how they interact with their followers. Keep in mind that someone’s online communication style may not completely match how that individual behaves in person. However, you can get a general sense of how that person relates.

Talk to Each Officiant

Once you have a shortlist of potential officiants, you’ll want to start your inquiries. It’s helpful to chat with each one either on the phone, through email, or via social media. When talking to these people, you’ll want to ask some basic questions.

  • Are you available on my preferred dates?
  • How long have you been officiating weddings?
  • What types of weddings have you performed?
  • Do you offer or require premarital counseling?
  • What are your fees?

Brides contributor Jen Glantz and Wedding Wire’s Stephanie Weers suggest some other great questions to ask. What you ask, of course, depends on your wedding-day vision: whether they can travel, how they create ceremonies, how much input you’ll have, and so forth. Ideally, these professionals should have their clients sign a contract. You should ask to review the contract before signing and paying any deposits.

As you’re speaking with each one, pay attention to how you feel. Do these officiants listen to you carefully and treat you with respect? Do you seem to “click” with any of them? How do they treat you and your partner individually? This is where going with your gut is a must. If you find yourself put off by an officiant — even if you can’t put your finger on why — you probably shouldn’t hire that individual.

Your Wedding Is a Joint Effort

Hiring an officiant is a collaborative effort. As you’re going through the selection process, it’s helpful to regularly discuss your observations with each other. Two minds and hearts can cover a lot of ground, especially when one notices things that the other doesn’t. No matter who you select, you should both unanimously agree on the choice. Decisions like these set the stage for your marriage to be a solid partnership.

Category: Wedding Planning

wedding officiant

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