My opinion… Yes!
Note that I said “Professional” wedding officiants. Not someone’s Uncle who got ordained online to do the only wedding he’s ever done – (That’s scarey!) – but a full-time, wedding officiant or minister who has performed lots of wedding ceremonies, can provide references, and who may have won awards for their ceremony or services.
It is important to understand that your choice in wedding officiants is one of the most critical decisions that you will make during the wedding planning process. The ceremony itself is the central and most special event of the day, and finding the perfect wedding officiate to deliver it is non-negotiable. Choose wisely.
If you are getting married there is one person you cannot do without. That would be the person who will perform your wedding ceremony. Performing a wedding ceremony is a little like any other performance. The officiant is “onstage” doing their performance and their
ability and grace goes a long way to making your wedding a memorable experience. Be sure to pick someone who you feel comfortable with and who is easy to work with. Avoid officiants and ministers who refuse to change the wording of their ceremony, for example, add cultural traditions, etc.
Absolute excellence is expected. Each wedding ceremony is unique and should be treated as such by the person performing it. Usually, wedding officiants are chosen because they either know the bride and groom on a personal level, or they have been recommended to the couple by someone who thinks they are a good fit.
Wedding officiants vary in their attitude, perspective and presentation. Duties during a wedding ceremony vary depending on the type of ceremony and the faith of the minster and couple. Some wedding ministers and civil officiants see officiating as a full-time job, no different than any other line of work. Others see it as a fun on-going learning and enriching opportunity to give loving and exellence to others. Some wedding ministers and civil officiants believe that there is a right and wrong way regarding ceremony and couple in the context of their background, church and religion. Others believe that it’s only about the couple, not them, not their background or even their religion and church, i.e., it’s just a wedding. A professional officiant will we willing to change the wording or exclude religion from the ceremony. Church ministers – perhaps due to their church denomination – may not have that option.
The basic duty of the officiant is to help you plan and write your “ceremony,” not plan your wedding, although there are officiants who may also be familiar with the duties of a wedding consultant. Officiants vary in their handling of “basic” tasks. Most will advise you on anything you need and will help wherever they can in organizing your processional, performing the ceremony and recessional and make suggestions to make sure everything goes smoothly. Here are a few basic tasks which all officiants should provide:
• Meet with the bride and groom to determine their wants and needs
• Knowing the license requirement details – witness age limits, etc. Laws vary by state
• Making sure the marriage license is filled out properly
• Complete and file paperwork on time and file the governmental body responsible to record it
• Arrive ahead of schedule and be dressed appropriately for the occasion
• Speak clearly and be well prepared
• Being prepared and easy to understand when performing the wedding ceremony
• Attending the rehearsal (Many ministers and officiants do not attend rehearsals – Larry’s NOTE: I always attend the rehearsal to make sure things to smoothly and to review the highlights of the ceremony so they are fresh in the couple’s minds.)
Not all wedding officiants follow through with the same degree of care. For example, those officiants with experience may also provide the bride and groom with referrals to other wedding vendors they have worked with and who are honest and dependable. They should be willing to incorporate ideas into the ceremony provided by the couple and allow lots of room for variety and innovation. All couples have the right to celebrate their marriage according to their own values.
The officiant performing the wedding can use information obtained from the bride and groom to customize a ceremony that makes the wedding unique and special for the couple. Some add-on ceremonies include breaking the glass, blending of the sand, the rose ceremony, jumping of the broom, and Celtic and Pagan hand-fasting. Your wedding officiant should be knowledgeable of a wide variety of add-on ceremonies that will make the wedding ceremony personalized especially for you.
Professional wedding officiants are given the unique opportunity to elaborate on the love that you share, and the commitment that you are making. Good wedding officiants offer background insight into he meaning behind the traditions being lived out and give a sense of direction to the path that the two of you are choosing to explore together.
Couples may wish to incorporate their own wedding vows (Personal Promises) into the ceremony. They can read them to each other or the officiant can read them for the bride and groom. Fees for professional wedding officiants vary depending on the officiant’s value they provide and the distance they may have to travel.
An officiant must be available to communicate with the couple in person and via e-mail and telephone to assess their needs and to brainstorm for ceremony ideas and requirements.
When interviewing a wedding officiant:
!. Always schedule a face to face meeting to get to know the wedding officiant.
2. Search reviews and testimonials to help establish their credibility.
3. Ask if they can offer video samples of weddings they have serviced.
4. Be comfortable with him or her. After all, this is your wedding ceremony!
5. Don’t make your decision upon their fee alone. The best wedding officiants usually costs a little more.
BONUS Articles: No Thanks! A Family Friend Will Perform Our Wedding Ceremony
How to Find a Qualified Wedding Officiant
Interviewing a Wedding Officiant? – Bring Lots of Questions!
Get Me to the Rehearsal on Time! – PLUS links to more “Rehearsal” articles!
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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