Choosing an officiant for our wedding was a decision that really meant sitting back and thinking about who knows us, who can speak about us as a couple, and who do we trust and respect. We actually landed on our decision pretty easily, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone. Choosing who will marry you is a big and personal decision. Whenever I look at ceremony photos from weddings, the only other person you notice besides the bride and groom, is the officiant. For us, this was definitely the case since we didn’t have a bridal party. There are a lot of factors that go into making this wedding decision, so today I wanted to give a few tips on how to choose your officiant for your wedding. Plus, be sure to read all the way down to the bottom of the post to read about who we chose and why!
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
A clergy member is a religious leader like a priest or a rabbi who is licensed by the state. Many religions allow a clergy member to marry someone who isn’t a member, but they may require something beforehand like premarital counseling or having the service in an official place of worship. The cost is often a donation, although some may charge, and the price ranges from about $200 to over $1,000. Sometimes the rental of a church includes the fee for the clergy member to marry you as well, so be sure to read the fine print.
Justice of the Peace:
A Justice of the Peace is basically someone who is just licensed to perform a wedding ceremony. This is a perfect option for anyone who doesn’t have a religious leader who they want to marry them or who is having a ceremony at city hall. If you’re having a destination wedding out of the country, consider using a JP stateside beforehand so that there are less hoops to jump through abroad. You can find a list of JPs online here. The price typically ranges from about $100 to $150.
A Friend or Family Member:
You can have a friend or someone in your family get ordained and marry you. Be sure to check the state rules where you are getting married and of course, make it someone you trust and who is comfortable with public speaking. You can actually get ordained for free online. Be sure to choose someone who knows you two as a couple, so they can add personal touches!
MAKING THE CHOICE
Now that you know your options, you need to decide who will actually marry you. My advice? Start with what kind of ceremony you want to have! What is the most important aspect of that to you? If it is to be outside that may change up your options of who can do it or maybe you want it to more religious or more personal. Each of these being your priority may lead you down a different path. If you’re using someone a little more official, be sure to check out reviews and preview any past weddings if possible. Before deciding, meet with the person and be sure to understand the rules in the state (or country) where you’ll be getting married.
If you’re using a religious affiliate, be sure you ask and are clear what they must include in the ceremony (this may be based on location) and what they are able to adapt to meet your preferences.
If you decide on someone close to you, be sure to ask them. Someone may not feel comfortable being an officiant, so I’d recommend feeling it out by someone mutually close to all of you. Then, be sure to ask them in a meaningful way! It’s likely an honor for someone you know, so be sure to make it special.
Finally, be sure you’re officiant can sign your marriage license. Every state has different rules about this! For some, you have to be registered with the court house for twenty-four hours before signing. Don’t assume when it comes to this! Doing your research and asking questions to have all the paperwork sorted out is important!
- Meet with whoever is going to marry you before hand! You want them know each of you on your own and as a couple. Be sure to tell them anything specific you want included in your ceremony such as a special story or a certain verse or quote.
- Give them a little freedom. You don’t want whoever is marrying you to not feel like they got to put their own personal touch on it. If you’re asking them to marry you, you obviously like something about them, so trust them. We loved having our officiant tell a story on his own about us, which we didn’t hear until the actual ceremony, which makes it fun! Also, if you’re writing your own vows (tips on that here) be sure to let them know the tone or style of them so they know what to expect.
- If you’re getting married abroad, ensure all the paperwork and official business is done beforehand so you don’t have to jump as through as many hoops oversees.
- Have a backup! If something happens with your officiant, have an idea of who you’ll have as a replacement. If you are using a religious officiant or a justice of the peace, make sure you have it in writing who will perform the ceremony should anything happen and they are unable to do it themselves!
WHAT WE DID
We decided that we wanted someone we knew to marry us, so we asked Charles’s brother-in-law. We ran the idea Charles’s sister first to see if he may be willing and then took them both to dinner to ask him. From there, we worked on the major parts of our ceremony, but left some parts for him to fill in on his own! We chose him because he has known us as a couple since the very beginning. Funny story: he actually told Charles I was ‘marriage material’ one of the first few times we hung out, before Charles and I even went on an official date. We wanted someone who really knew us since we had such a small, intimate wedding. His brother in law is a wonderful, elegant, and thoughtful speaker, so we knew that he would be the perfect person for the job. We figured all of the paperwork out before hand and were able to have a stress fun, personal ceremony! He did a phenomenal job and we are so happy with our choice. Its so nice to see our ceremony pictures and have the person standing there with us as we said our vows be someone that is family and who we care about.
Hopefully this helps you when deciding who to choose for your wedding officiant. Its definitely a persona choice and with all things related to your wedding, I encourage you to choose what is best for you and your future spouse, because after all, that is what the day is about! XO
PS: Today marks four months of marriage for us! We are going to celebrate at Lucia, a delicious and intimate authentic Italian restaurant here in Dallas.
Photos by Stephanie Parsley Photography