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All You Ever Wanted
to Know About Wedding Officiants
|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
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 officiant.
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 children.
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.
Universal Life Church: www.ulc.org
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:
About the Author
Blake Kritzberg is editor at "FavorIdeas.com"
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