• Peter Roehrich

What to Ask a Wedding Officiant


Peter officiating a wedding in the time of COVID.

Are you looking for the perfect officiant for your upcoming wedding? Celebrating your nuptials is a very personal experience and it's so important to click with your officiant. Here are a few questions to ask when you reach out to one.


Religious Approach

Have you decided whether you want a secular or religious wedding? If you want a religious wedding, do you want it in the tradition of a particular denomination, or do you want something less specific? I'll run through the options.


Secular

A secular officiant, and a secular ceremony, doesn't focus on any aspect of faith, and your officiant will not make mention of God. While some officiants are resistant to any religious language in the ceremony, many are more than happy to have friends or family read from religious texts or offer prayers.


Non-denominational

Couples may choose to have a non-denominational ceremony when they want elements of faith or spirituality present in the ceremony but do not want it in the tradition of a particular faith. This might be preferred by interfaith couples or couples who have spiritual practices outside one of the most common faiths. Officiants may, for example, refer to God without using words specific to a certain faith.


Denominational

Couples who share a common faith tradition may wish to celebrate their wedding in the manner of a specific religion. In this case the officiant will likely offer prayers or read pieces of religious texts.


Questions to Ask

Ask your officiant what types of ceremony he or she is comfortable performing. It's ok to make clear what you want as that will prevent problems later. I know of a couple who wanted God mentioned in the ceremony, only to learn later on that the officiant was unwilling (they had a loved one offer a prayer instead). If you want a religious ceremony, you should ask whether the officiant is familiar with that faith tradition.


Family

Sometimes there can be, shall we say "drama", between the couple and their families. This could be about differences in religious preferences, or about a family member projecting their ideas about a perfect wedding. Sometimes an officiant can help to ease tensions.


Questions to Ask

If there is, or you anticipate, family tension, tell any officiant you speak with. Ask whether he or she has experience dealing with such tension. You don't want him or her to freak out! Also, ask whether he or she is willing to help mediate. Sometimes having someone listen sincerely to the families' concerns is enough to smooth things over.


Professionalism

You want your wedding to go off without a hitch (bad pun, I know), and essential to that is your officiant's professionalism. This is broad, covering a number of traits, so I'll go over a few, but they boil down to confidence that your officiant won't screw up!


Timeliness

Who ever your officiant is, he or she better know how to tell time. Wouldn't it be bad if everyone was in place and ready to tie the knot--except your officiant? Look for someone who is on time to every scheduled call and replies to emails without inordinate delay.


Agreements

An officiant who refuses to use a written agreement is asking for heartache all around. Maybe he or she is one of those "my word is my contract" sort of people, but that doesn't help when people forget what was said. Spelling things out in writing isn't about creating a paper trail for litigation, it's so that everyone is on the same page, literally, about what to do and expect.


Attitude

Your wedding officiant should always, always take a, well, professional tone with you. You should feel free to not accept suggestions of your officiant, although it might be wise to consider them, without fear of a petty response. He or she should never take things personally.


Questions to Ask

Keep in mind as you look for an officiant that professionalism is critical. Ask how early he or she arrives at the wedding ceremony venue; about an hour is a good response. Ask whether he or she uses a written agreement and for a copy of it. Look it over and ask questions about anything that doesn't make sense. Be aware of his or her response to these or any other questions you ask; responses should always be gracious.


Putting it All Together

Keeping these questions in mind will help you in selecting the right wedding officiant for your ceremony. You don't have to ask them explicitly, and he or she may offer answers without you asking. Good answers to these questions, and demonstrating the traits above, are all positive signs that you've found someone you can work with.

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peter@vibrantceremonies.com | 301.200.2333

 

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