How to Choose a Wedding Officiant

In order to be legally married, you’ll have to find someone to officiate your wedding. This person is called the officiant, and you’ll want to give some thought as to how to choose a wedding officiant for your big day.

If you plan to get married in a house of worship, the venue and the officiant are usually a package deal. One of the pastors, rabbis, or religious officials associated with your church, temple, or house of worship will officiate, and you’ll meet with them to set your ceremony date and time. If you have an idea of who you’d like to marry you, but he or she is not associated with a particular house of worship, reach out to get an idea of his or her availability so that you can make sure it lines up with the dates that your venue is available.

Even if you’re already familiar with your officiant, it’s a good idea to set up a consultation and run through a few basic questions so that you have a good idea as to what his or her typical wedding ceremony looks like. Depending on the religion or denomination, your officiant might want to meet with the two of you for premarital counseling sessions before the big day, and he or she might have feedback as to how long your ceremony should be, what kinds of readings should be included, and whether you’re allowed to write your own vows.

Though it’s unlikely that your officiant will request a specific fee, they usually have a suggested donation for their time (especially if attending your wedding will involve travel). It’s a good idea to ask about this upfront. Once your officiant is on board, remember to include him or her on the guest list for the reception and as well as the seating chart as a way of showing thanks for having made your marriage legal and binding.

Finally, if you want a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, you’ll need to check your state’s laws regarding what is needed to legally officiate a wedding. Some states offer programs that allow anyone to be deputized for a short period of time to perform a marriage ceremony, or your friend can look into the requirements to be legally ordained to perform marriages. If you choose to go this route, allow a couple weeks for your friend or family member to go through the deputization or ordination process.

If you’re not sure how to choose a wedding officiant, speak to your wedding planner or venue manager. Both should be familiar with wedding officiants in your area and should be able to recommend someone who will suit your needs.