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Choosing Your Wedding Officiant

Planning your wedding involves making choices in areas like venue, planner, flowers, photographer, DJ, caterer, cake and many other important aspects. The one thing that all weddings, big or small, have in common is the wedding ceremony. 


In essence, your wedding is a ceremony that joins you in marriage with promises that you make to one another while highlighting and defining what love and marriage is all about. The person who officiates your wedding ceremony can make a tremendous impact on how your love and marriage is expressed to you at that moment and can also be a source of inspiration for your love and inspire those who witness your ceremony.


How do you choose your officiant?


The first step in choosing the right person to officiate your wedding ceremony is getting a good picture of exactly what a wedding officiant does. Knowing this can help you make a good decision between clergy, a professional officiant or a friend or relative. Comparing the pros and cons of each choice will give you confidence that your wedding ceremony will exceed your expectations. 

Your Officiant needs certain skills and talents.

On the surface, the task of the officiant looks pretty simple and easy. However, there is a lot more to it than you might guess:

  • Writing a ceremony with good content and flow

  • Knowing what a great ceremony consists of

  • Awareness and familiarity with ceremony variations and possibilities

  • Ability to know how to tailor the length of the ceremony

  • Execution of essential ceremony procedures, details and movements

  • Polished public speaking skills

  • Using amplification properly

  • Coordinating with the planner, DJ, photographer

  • Rehearsal coordination expertise

  • License paperwork proficiency 

  • Experience

  • Confidence


These are common problems from an inexperienced person:

  • Backing out with short or no notice (very common)

  • Nervousness and freezing

  • Extremely short ceremonies (less than 5 minutes is common)

  • Unfamiliar with essential parts of the process or forgetting them

  • Inappropriate content

  • Ceremony is a stand-up routine

  • Gaffs and mistakes

  • Microphone handling issues

  • Inability to deal with unexpected issues: (technical or with people)

  • Bride and groom anxiety about the person’s performance

The most important qualification is experience. A person who has officiated dozens or hundreds of wedding ceremonies knows what to do, what not to do and will not make the mistakes that the first timer inevitably will.

Clergy or a Professional Wedding Officiant?

The person who officiates your wedding will prepare your ceremony based upon their personal concept of what marriage is all about. What they write and say will be from the lens through which they see marriage.


  • If a religious-based ceremony is what you want, you'll probably ask your home minister to officiate or you can find those offering religion-based ceremonies online. They'll likely have a prepared ceremony from within the parameters of their denomination.

  • You may want a non-religious ceremony but with a religious reading or traditional ritual included. In that case you'll need to make your preferences and boundaries known and ask questions about how he or she will handle that balance.

  • If you don't want any reference made to religion, you may need to find a person who doesn't come from a religious standpoint, as others might not be willing or able to conceptualize a ceremony without religious references and may say things that you don't want said.


For the best advice, ask your Planner, DJ and photographer about their experiences with both novice and professional officiants.


If you are on a tight budget, a friend or family member might do it for you for no cost, but be aware of very common pitfalls. In the scope of your wedding cost, a professional officiant can be a bargain.  

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