There are no small decisions in wedding planning—every detail comes together to create the perfect day. However, there are decisions that take longer to make than others! And choosing your wedding officiant is one of those decisions. Of course, the decision comes easy for some couples. If you’re part of a religion, you may ask your local leader to perform officiant duties. You may even know someone personally who has officiated weddings before. But for most couples, choosing a wedding officiant leaves a big question mark on their wedding to-do list.
Although choosing a wedding officiant can take some time, we promise it’s worth it! It’s just like finding the perfect venue: You may have to visit a few to find “the one,” but when you do, it makes all the difference. Wedding officiants have a lot of responsibility before and during the wedding, so you’ll want to make sure they’re up to the task.
Wedding Officiant Responsibilities
Typically, you will meet with your officiant multiple times before the big day. During those meetings, you’ll discuss the ceremony. For example, are there any specific readings you want included? What other special events (like your sister singing) do you want to include? In some cases—especially if you’re religious—these pre-wedding meetings include marriage counseling to prepare you and your soon-to-be for your new commitment.
Your officiant will also guide you through the proceedings at your rehearsal dinner and then perform the actual wedding on the day of, of course. Unless you have specific requests or desires, your wedding officiant will take the reins on planning the wedding ceremony. You’ll have final say, of course, but they’ll plan all those little details like when to read your vows and how to exchange rings.
It’s a lot of work to officiate a wedding, so it might take some work finding the right officiant! But, like we said, it’s totally worth it. Here are seven tips for choosing a wedding officiant. These tips will make the selection process easier and ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly.
We don’t necessarily mean to choose your childhood BFF. Instead, we recommend asking someone you have a personal relationship with. It could certainly be a close friend, but it can also be a religious leader from the place of worship you attend every week, an aunt or uncle, or local leader with whom you work.
If your wedding officiant knows you, they’ll be able to use personal anecdotes during the ceremony. Plus, you’ll know how to work with them. Like we mentioned, you’ll be meeting with your officiant many times before the wedding and planning together. By choosing someone you know, you’re already comfortable with them, and you know how to work together.
Who’s Done This Before
We’re not saying that your childhood BBF can’t officiate your wedding—but do be prepared for extra work if they’ve never done it before. A seasoned officiant will know when you should be facing them or facing each other. They’ll also know the order and timing of vow and ring exchanges. Plus, they can advise on any of the music and special events that you have planned. With the right officiant, you won’t have to make any of those decisions! Of course, you may want to make those decisions, and that’s OK, too. But knowing how involved you want to be is an important part of the officiant decision.
You’ve Heard Speak
You may love the jokes that your hilarious cousin tells or love the idea of your sister performing your wedding. But have they ever spoken in front of a large crowd before? Do they have any experience writing their own speeches?
Bonus Tip: Attend a service or event that the officiant is conducting to get an idea of their style and skill.
Once again, it’s totally OK if the answer is No, but you may want to have them practice before your special day. You don’t want an officiant with stage fright, or one who writes a stale ceremony speech. Just make sure they’re up for all the aspects of the wedding officiant role!
Who Matches Your Wedding Style
What kind of wedding are you planning? Will it be somber and serious or light-hearted and upbeat? You’ll want to choose a wedding officiant who can match your wedding vibes. For example, if they make you feel relaxed and have you laughing right away, they’re a perfect fit for your easy-going nuptials. On the other hand, an officiant who gets right to business will fit in with your traditional wedding. If you fall in love with an officiant who doesn’t seem to match your style—ask them how comfortable they are adding jokes into the mix or dialing the goofiness back a touch. They may have no problem adjusting! And if they don’t want to adjust, then they aren’t the right wedding officiant for you.
Who Matches Your Beliefs
Just as important as our last tip, we recommend choosing someone who shares your beliefs. Yes, this absolutely includes any religious beliefs that you and your soon-to-be share. However, it also includes their beliefs on marriage, weddings, and love. Do they view marriage as seriously as you do? Do they believe two people can be together forever? You don’t have to morally or philosophically agree on everything—but you want the words they share on your special day to be genuine. Otherwise, you know that they’re saying something they don’t believe just because you want them to say it. It can make your whole ceremony feel disingenuous, and we certainly don’t want that!
Local to Your Destination
Practically speaking, if your wedding officiant is close to your wedding destination, they are more likely to be available. Otherwise, they may not want to travel or spend the night away from home to officiate. On top of that, if they do have to travel, you may have to cover some (or all!) of their expenses. Of course, for the right officiant, it might be worth it to you. But if you’d rather make it easy for you and easy for your officiant—keep ‘em local!
Within Your Budget
This might seem like a silly piece of advice to give, but sticking to a wedding budget can be tricky. If you’re tempted to overspend in one category, you’ll have to take money from a different category to stay within your overall budget. That’s why it’s important to stay on-budget whenever you can—and it’s definitely possible when choosing a wedding officiant!
While certain services, like catering, offer a variety of package options that can push you over budget, officiant services don’t have too many add-ons. That means you can budget confidently and stick to it! According to our Eventective data, the national average cost to book a wedding officiant is $320. But, of course, that varies based on location, so you’ll need to look up officiants in your area for a tailored quote.
Although choosing a wedding officiant is a big task, it’s worth every minute! Ultimately, you are choosing the special person who will unify you and your soon-to-be. No pressure, though! Keep these seven tips in mind while you’re making your decisions. Don’t be afraid to meet with a few different officiants before making your final choice, too. It’s just like visiting a few venues before finding your perfect match.
What are you looking for in your officiant? Would you prefer to ask a friend or family?