There’s one thing that every couple getting married needs: an officiant. There simply has to be another person to legally bring them together as one. And yes, for some couples, an Elvis impersonator in Vegas will do—but for 95% of couples, they want an officiant who means something to them, whether it’s because of religious beliefs, admiration, or because it’s someone close to them.
Those chosen can be religious, such as priests, pastors or rabbis; civil officiants such as judges, magistrates, court clerks, notaries public, or justices of the peace; professional officiants, or even a friend or family member that is ordained.
So what are the qualities couples should seek in an officiant, and where should they look? According to the wedding professionals at Blush Banquet Hall in Los Angeles, these are the differences between officiants, and here is how couples can select the right one for their specific union.
Know Where to Look
Once you and your future spouse have agreed on what kind of officiant you want (religious, civil, professional, or a friend), it’s time to find the right person. “If you don’t already have a certain person in mind, a good idea is to ask married friends for referrals,” says Avo Petrossian, owner of Blush. If this doesn’t work, there are many online officiant directories to choose from. (Be sure to read reviews on them, too.) If you’re having a friend officiate, be sure to ask someone who knows you both very well, fully supports your union, and is comfortable speaking in front of others.
Meet Them First
“For religious officiants, it’s usually easy to find the right person,” says Petrossian. “The couple either already has someone in mind from their spiritual community, or they choose their childhood pastor or priest.” However, if you’re selecting an officiant that you’ve never met before, be sure to set up a time to meet them before your wedding. Chemistry is important, and you would never forgive yourself if the person who married you gave you an “off” or annoying vibe in person.
Know What They’ll be Saying
No matter what type of officiant you select, it’s always a good idea to ask them whatever questions you have—especially what they will be saying during the wedding ceremony. For example, if you aren’t religious, you’ll want to make sure they don’t mention anything spiritual. And if you don’t want them to toss in jokes or silly comments, that should be discussed. By asking up front, you’ll be able to ensure nothing is said during the ceremony that you’ll regret.
Have a Backup
“One thing that we always tell our couples is to have a backup officiant if they want someone personal to them,” says Petrossian. “If your chosen officiant gets sick or cancels shortly before the wedding, you’ll want to have someone else equally meaningful in mind to take their place.”
Hopefully, this helps you on your journey to choosing the right officiant for your wedding! It’s one thing if you just want someone to make it official, but it’s another if you want someone who means something to you. If that’s the route you want to take, just be sure it’s someone that you both like and are comfortable with, and go over what they will be saying on your big day. Good luck!
– Avo Vardanyan