Picking the right officiant is key to a great ceremony, because they will be running your ceremony. You, your future spouse, and your officiant should get to know each other on a somewhat personal level. While the wedding ceremony focuses on the two of you, there can be aspects that bring family and friends together.

A few things to consider when choosing your Officiant:

  • How much do you want religion (yours, your future spouses, or no religion) to be expressed during your wedding ceremony?
  • Do you already know and trust someone who is ordained / licensed to marry in your state / country / location?
  • The location of your ceremony – depending on where you want to get married, there may be local regulations to follow or religious requirements to meet, prior to choosing your officiant or clergy member.

When my husband and I got married, in a full length Catholic Mass (yes, it’s an hour and 25 minutes long), we were able to invite my home parish’s pastor to con-celebrate with our priest, at our new home church. It allowed for some wonderful, personalized moments and brought a delightful, deeper sense of family to our ceremony.

When your officiant knows you, personally, it can truly add noteworthy moments and stories to your ceremony. They can share a funny or romantic story. They can lend a familiarity and sense of calm to your day. They can personalize the flow of your ceremony to help both of you express your feelings and desires to each other, in a very public display.

I think that it is special to have someone you know personally officiate your wedding like a friends or family member is memorable. The biggest benefit is they know you and can do it the way you want because they love you. They can personalize it to everything they know about you without having to meet. Since they knew you, it could be really funny and can share stories about you as a couple from what they know about you as a couple and how they know you, this makes it personal to you and your guest. Having someone who knows you, means it could flow better because they know you which will make it familiar. It is good to meet with them to talk about how you want the ceremony to run. Let’s say your brother marries you, and he tells a cute story about the couple, your guests will cry more, not saying that they will not cry for any other officiant. Your guest will always cry.

Another type of officiant is clergy, this will depend on the religion that you and your fiance are. A ceremony could be a lot more specific due to needing to fill religious requirements, meaning it could be long. Knowing your clergy well will help them perform the best ceremony for you, making it personal is important. Since there are different religions and you may marry someone who is a different religion than you. Religion can be a very personal thing to many people. Discussing what religion you want to get married into is very important for the ceremony and also for your personal growth as a couple. When discussing one thing to consider is you want to get married into or both. If you are going to have both religions, make sure both clergy members are on the same page about what they need to be done. Another aspect to be aware of when choosing the religion to get married into. If they are different have meetings where you can discuss what parts of each you want that fits you as a couple. When having a religious ceremony, still find spots where you can make it personal. Another idea to consider is how religious do you want the ceremony to be, there is a range very, somewhat, a little or not at all.

Another type of officiant is justice of the peace. They are good for people who are not religious or want a more general ceremony. Sometimes these ceremonies can be shorter and more tailored to the couple. Since it is more customized, personal touches are welcomed and always added. You could always add  unity ceremonies like lighting a candle or the sand ceremony. This could be a nice time to involve parents of the couple coming up to involve in the ceremony. At the end of the day, the ceremony is all about you as a couple and your love story. 

Vows are an important part of the ceremony. One of the things you have to consider is writing your own vows or is the officiant writing them for you. The difference is one is from the heart and personal and the other is more general from what officiant and you have talked about regarding your love.

Here are some general tips. When you are rehearsing the ceremony, make sure you are very specific as to what you want on the day of the wedding. Do everything you do at the rehearsal that you want on the day, so it runs very smoothly. My very first tip: you ask your officiant to step aside for the first kiss, so they are not in your photos. At the rehearsal, practice, practice, practice to make sure the day runs smoothly. It is not a bad idea to have meetings before the wedding to see how they run the wedding to see if it fits your needs. Be honest with them if you don’t like the way they say or do something. Since they are running your ceremony, make sure you trust them. Get to know them, have them get to know you as a couple too, to be personal and less generic so it is about your love story. Getting to know your officiant can have benefits like they will know what you want, how to conduct the ceremony for you and lastly have them get to know others involved in your ceremony like your parents, family and bridal party. 

This is an important person in your wedding, they are the person making your marriage official, their name will be on your marriage license. They will be in your pictures from the ceremony. Make sure you like their personality and them as human. Liking your officiant is key to having the best ceremony for you as a couple.