Choosing the Right Officiant for Your Wedding

July 2, 2022

Who Is One of the Most Important People to Attend the Ceremony of Your Wedding? The Officiant!

After all, you can’t get legally married without them! A wedding officiant or celebrant is anyone who can legally conduct a wedding ceremony. So choosing the right person to assist you in sharing your vows is a special choice and should not be considered lightly. Often couples choose someone they already have a connection with. Whether that be through a church, synagogue or other religious facility. Or sometimes it’s a close friend or family member that you ask to be certified to perform a marriage, if needed.

If you’re a little lost on who to ask, here are some tips to aid in choosing the right officiant for your special day. There are also some questions you should ask yourself and your significant other before choosing the officiant that’s right for you two.

a man hooding a card
Danielle Margherite Photography

Here’s a List of Different Types of Wedding Officiants:

Celebrant: A celebrant is a person who performs a rite, it can be either religious or secular, and they can perform marriage ceremonies. It can be an ordained clergy member, a professional secular officiant, a legal official such as a judge, or a public officer like a notary.

Religious Officiant: A religious officiant such as a priest or rabbi is a great option if you want to be married in a religious context in a house of worship. A clergy member can be a great choice if you are looking to have a more traditional ceremony. That is a conversation for you and your pastor or other religious leader to have to see what type of ceremony the house of worship you want to get married in will allow.

Secular Officiant: A certified, non religious celebrant has their certification from a secular source. Many times this is the person you would look for to perform a secular, same-sex or interfaith ceremony.

Interfaith Minister: This person will marry people of different religions together. They, like a secular officiant marry same-sex and nonreligious couples, but can add the element of faith and religion into your ceremony if you so choose.

Civil Officiant: A civil servant or civil wedding officiant is a person who can legally perform the marriage. Basically their primary role is to legalize the marriage. They validate that both parties consent in the marriage union, and they sign your wedding license to make it legal.

Friend or Family Member: It’s actually pretty easy and inexpensive to be ordained online! If you want a close friend or family member that is special to the two of you to perform the ceremony it can be relatively easy for them to be ordained through an online website. If there is a special person you have in mind, ask them if they will undergo the process to get ordained and perform your ceremony. A person who knows you well and loves you is a great way to personalize your vows and make it more meaningful. Just make sure to iron out all of the legal paperwork for ordination according to your state to ensure that your marriage is legal.

Now that you know what type of officiants are available for you to choose, you need to decide what type of ceremony you want to have.

Are you looking for a religious or secular officiant? If you both want a religious ceremony then first look to the ministerial leaders you have had in your lives over the years. Maybe someone made an impact on your life, and you already know you would love them to perform the ceremony. Or check out the house of worship you are wanting to get married in and ask if they only allow their on-staff ministers to officiate weddings or if they allow someone from the outside perform the ceremony. It is also possible your religious officiant is willing to perform the ceremony off-site of their house of worship. When you think about your wedding location and you dream of a beach, banquet room or hotel as your wedding venue, your religious officiant might be willing to perform the ceremony there. Or else you will need to pick a secular officiant who is willing to marry you in a non-religious setting. More and more weddings are taking place in non-religious venues. You can find a good officiant through your Miami event planner. They have a list of religious and non-religious officiants that you can interview and choose from.

Do your research! Once you find an officiant you like, do some research on them. Ask them for references, set up a meeting and if you feel comfortable do a session of pre-marital counseling with them. Make sure they have past experience in public speaking. Or at the very least they are a confident speaker. Do they speak clearly and take you on a journey with their voice? Will they direct and assist to move along the ceremony and its elements? You can write the ceremony for them if you so please. If you choose to write your own vows that can release some of the speaking pressure of the officiant as well. Make sure they keep to a specific time. That they won’t be long winded or too short. Ask to see the ceremony sermon or speech they intend to share. Perform it during the rehearsal dinner and make any last minute changes needed so it is the ceremony you two want. Yes, let the officiant do their thing, but this is your big day, and they need to make sure it stays within the lines of what you initially agreed upon. Also, make sure you check on their licensing. Some officiants are filed with your county or state and sometimes you can get a break on the marriage license cost if they are listed as one of their preferred ministers!

Get to know your officiant. Make appointments and get to know the person who will be joining you together in holy matrimony. The person you choose wants to help ensure that your marriage has a solid foundation and will last. Look to them for wise counsel, after all they probably have a lot of experience in this field. Some officiants have a series of appointments and meetings they want you to complete before the big day comes. They may have a book or curriculum they want you to go through first as well. They can help you two navigate through some questions you may not have thought of before. Let them help you. Deepening the relationship between couple and officiant can make the ceremony all the more sweeter if you have a deeper bond as you embark on this new life together.

Feature photo courtesy of Kaity Brawley