The Importance of a Professional Wedding Officiant
by Terry Perez
Brides and grooms often overlook the importance of the person actually conducting their wedding ceremony. They place great care in a place, date, and time, but do not consider that the ceremony will not go forward without an officiant.
The person you choose to conduct your ceremony is the person you are counting on to share your vision, personalize your vows, and finalize your special day. This industry often goes unchecked because a lot of officiants are ministers and Justices of the Peace, which people simply assume are always professionals. The truth is, while the vast majority are, some can have questionable reputations in the industry just like any other business. The stories of showing up late or not at all, answering cell phones during the ceremony, refusing to customize your ceremony and vows, getting your names wrong, or countless other mistakes are endless and an absolute nightmare for any bride and groom.
Before you book your officiant, know what to ask and what to expect for your money. Officiant fees can vary between $150.00 to $450.00 so make certain you know what you are getting. A higher price does not always mean a better officiant so be prepared when you interview them. Once you have established a date, time and place for your wedding, it's time to look for a wedding officiant. Start looking early as the best officiants, like the best vendors, tend to get booked quickly. See how much "control" your officiant allows you over your ceremony. Does your officiant insist on a religious ceremony? Are you getting a "fixed text" wedding -- that is, a "word for word" style ceremony that is read for every couple? How much choice are you given in putting together your ceremony? Will your officiant help with advice in writing your own vows? In giving you suggestions for readings and ceremony ideas?
An officiant should have no problem giving you references. If they do, don't walk...run away! An officiant should always return your calls, answer your e-mails, and be available to you for all your needs. They should also be at your ceremony early to go over things and make sure there are no problems. Ask what will happen if your officiant has an emergency on your special day. Do they have a replacement? Who is this person and will they be able to step in at the last minute if need be?
Your payment is probably non-refundable so make certain you get your questions answered and feel comfortable that your officiant shares your dream of the perfect ceremony.
Finally, did you know you can get married at the airport, in a park, your favorite restaurant, in a skating rink, the top floor of a building that overlooks the city, or anywhere else you desire? Well you can. So consider what your day means to you and follow your dream!
- Terry Perez is with I Do 4 U Wedding Officiants in McAllen, TX, and has been a WedPlan Member since Sep 2009.