Your wedding officiant is probably one of the most important vendors you will secure for your wedding day. I mean, without them - your marriage wouldn't be legal! It's really important that they are actually ordained but also that you and your partner have a solid connection with this person and share a common belief system. To help you find that perfect person, I've rounded up all the best advice, tips + tricks that I have in my magic hat! You've gotta make sure you understand how they work and what your expectations are going into it..
"Find someone who really wants to help you tell your love story, someone you feel comfortable asking questions to, who is educated about the process from start to finish." - Aspen Kate Co.
I've heard (and experienced) one too many horror stories about officiants dropping the ball, not showing up or worse - scamming you. So, I decided to write this little guide. I hope it helps you.
Let's start with discussing the role of an officiant.
A wedding officiant is a person who leads your wedding ceremony. They must be legally recognized to do so by the state in which your wedding takes place. If you are having a religious ceremony, your officiant will need to be qualified in the eyes of that religious organization as well. Typically though, an officiant is non-religious. Wedding officiants do more than just write and read a script. They control the entire flow + overall tone of the ceremony. It's their job to keep your guests engaged and make sure the energy in the space stays in a positive and intimate light.
How much do officiants cost?
It really comes down to what you are getting from your officiant and there overall role + relationship to you. When choosing a friend or family member to officiate - typically they won't ask for payment if it's not their actual job. (However, you should still leave them a little something as thanks - even just a gift.) Generally speaking, Pricing ranges from $100.00-$350.00 per ceremony. If you get a basic, read from a script ceremony - it will be on the lower end of things. When you start customizing the script, adding in personal anecdotes or expanding the role of the officiant by asking them to Usher, expand their hours, etc. you will see pricing on the higher end.
How do I ask a non-pro to marry us?
Do you understand the responsibilities of the role?
Do you anticipate any scheduling conflicts?
Are you comfortable speaking in front of our families?
Do you have an idea of how you’ll officiate in mind?
Can we cover any costs to make you an officiant?
How does the script get written?
This is different with every officiant and is an important question to ask when you find a few to interview with. Some may work off an outline and fill in the blanks to fit your ceremony, some of them may completely personalize your ceremony script, while others will have a generic pre-written script based on your ceremony type. It's always a good idea to figure out how your officiant works before securing them.
How do I find a wedding officiant in Michigan?
Scroll through The Knot Marketplace for professional wedding officiants and couples' reviews in your wedding location.
Ask recently married friends for referrals.
Ask your other wedding vendors. Your photographer or wedding planner may know of reputable individuals whom they've heard of or worked with in the past.
Contact your house of worship.
If your ceremony site is not a house of worship, contact city, town or village halls and ask about judges or justices of the peace available for weddings.
Ask a loved one to get ordained and officiate your wedding.
So, you've got a few contenders what now?
Do your research!!! Find out everything you possibly can about the person. (social media, LinkedIn, Google their name + business) if you like what you find - schedule a meeting.
Find out what they're obligations are (what is they're pricing, do they require counseling, online training or one on one meetings)
Ask them for a video of them performing a ceremony for a full picture of what they might be like on your wedding day
Make sure their values align with yours. This matters. It will directly impact the phrases, tone and words used in your script and reflect the relationship you have with this person.
Meet with more than one before making your decision. Take the time to find the right person, you won't regret it.
What questions should I ask?
Some of these may come off as self explanatory or like something you would think is just included. Despite common belief not every officiant operates the same way. These will help you weed out the officiants that don't work with your needs and ceremony type.
Can I write my own vows?
Do you perform [insert ceremony type] weddings?
How often will we meet beforehand?
How long have you been in officiant?
Why did you choose to be an officiant?
What will you wear?
Do you personalize each ceremony you officiate?
What does your typical ceremony outline include?
Will you provide us with the script to review ahead of time?
What are your fees?
Would you like to join us at the reception?
Do you have any requirements like pre-marital counseling, etc.
Will you come to rehearsal?
What happens if you get sick, are late or there's an emergency in your family? Do you have a backup?
Can you help us write our vows?
Do you have any example videos of you performing a ceremony?
Make sure you mention anything about rituals, ceremonies, etc.
Be clear about your wishes and their policies before signing on
Do you return the marriage license? If so, do you use certified mail so it can be tracked?
Can you help us get our marriage license if needed?