Tracking down a
wedding officiant can be a little intimidating.
Perhaps you remember a time when it was hard to
get one if you weren't among the "regularly churched"!
But times have changed, and hiring an officiant
for your wedding is now standard procedure.
Basically, brides-to-be find themselves in one
of two camps: Either they have a regular church
and a favorite minister, who might be a longstanding
family friend, or they need to find one through
word-of-mouth or web sites.
The latter situation often costs more, but allows
for a lot of flexibility. Depending on your tastes
and faiths, you can often find a judge, a Catholic
priest to marry you outdoors, a Rabbi to officiate
at an interfaith wedding, a non-denominational
officiant who encourages you to write your own
vows, and so on.
How to find officiants
A good national directory for finding Catholic
officiants is www.rentapriest.com.
If you're stuck for ideas, try asking vendors.
Your florist or caterer is probably well acquainted
with local options.
Another excellent way to find officiants is to
visit a large wedding forum, like The Knot, and
post on boards for your local geographic area.
You can often get an idea of the flavor, preparedness,
flexibility and even appearance of a popular local
When should you book an officiant?
Some officiants book early. If you're really particular
about whom you want to do the service and can't
budge on the date, try to book more than six months
in advance. Some couples book a year ahead.
How much do officiants charge?
A minister at your own church may not charge anything
at all, but may accept donations. In that case,
a $100-200 donation is about average. Ask the
minister yourself if there's any doubt.
An officiant you engage yourself will set his
or her own rates. Rates generally range from $250-600,
but some well-known officiants may charge more.
Do we send an invitation?
By custom, you invite your officiant to your rehearsal
dinner as a guest. You also invite the officiant
and his or her spouse to your reception with a
formal invitation, just like other guests. Unless
the officiant is an old family friend, he or she
may decline to stay, but an invitation is proper.
You aren't expected to invite the officiant's
Can you use a friend as an officiant?
It's done all the time, and can make weddings
very personal. A father, mother, or the friend
who introduced you can make for an amazing event.
Be sure to pick someone comfortable speaking in
front of large crowds, and brush up on your state's
laws and licensing requirements. Here's a good
site to begin your research:
Your chosen friend or family member can become
ordained "instantly and online" at the Universal
Life Church, which in some areas will enable them
to perform legal weddings. Again, be sure of your
state's laws. Many times, ministers ordained by
ULC will also have to register in their state
and obtain a license before they can practice.
Call your local county clerk for clarification.
Do I meet with the officiant before or after
booking, and what should I expect at the meeting?
Ideally, an officiant will allow a "getting to
know you" meeting before you book them, though
not all will. Most at least offer telephone interviews,
which helps you see how they fit with your personal
During your first meeting, the officiant will
typically tell you about his or her background,
discuss the logistics, bring up any premarital
counseling requirements, ask some questions about
your personal history, and show you a sample ceremony
script. This is a good time to discuss special
unification ceremonies or personal vows, bring
up interfaith issues, and learn whether your officiant
plans to attend your rehearsal.
About the Author
Blake Kritzberg is editor at "FavorIdeas.com"
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