What to Look For When Choosing Your Wedding Officiant

Written with love, by Pastor Dave Page

The ceremony is one of the most significant parts of your wedding so choosing your wedding officiant is of the utmost importance. A wedding officiant can either make or break your wedding ceremony.  Sadly, with all the excitement of planning a wedding, many couples leave choosing the Officiant or Minister until last. The most important reason to start thinking about this early on in the process is so you can find the right person for you!

What to Look For When Choosing Your Wedding Officiant

Below are some tips for what to look for when choosing a Wedding Officiant:


Book in Advance

Many Officiants, like myself, are booked far in advance, just like any other wedding vendor. I suggest booking at least 1 year to 6 months ahead of time. This way you can take your time and interview a few potential candidates. Interview more than one so you get some perspective.


Make Sure It’s A Good Fit

I believe that your ceremony is the main event and the reception is the celebration of that event.  It’s been said that, “The ceremony is the cake and the reception is the icing.”  Meet with the Officiant in person.  Choose an Officiant that “gets you,” one that you feel comfortable with and who is a good fit for you and your fiancé. The words that are spoken at your wedding are the words that form the covenant you live by, so choose wisely who speaks those words for you.


Do Your Homework 

Ask questions, get referrals or read reviews from couples that the Officiant has married. The two best places to look are www.theKnot.com and www.WeddingWire.com.  Make sure that your ceremony is in the hands of someone you can trust and who will make your day incredible. Also remember there are certain legalities from state to state as to who can legally marry you so check it out before you hire someone.


Choose A Professional

Why not just have a close friend or relative perform your wedding?  For the same reason you wouldn’t have an amateur mechanic work on your Porsche.  Wedding Officiants are experts in what they do.  Most Officiants are excellent public speakers and have many years of experience preforming weddings.

I recently saw Jerry Seinfeld at Caesars Palace in Vegas.  He said, “According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking." Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Funny right?  But the reality is that public speaking is the number one fear for most people and very few people are superb public speakers.

If you decide to have a friend or family member perform your ceremony, make sure they have experience...otherwise it could be disastrous! Also, make sure they are legally allowed to marry you. 

The officiant is just as important as your photographer, videographer, or cake vendor.  Most professional Officiants have performed hundreds of ceremonies and their polished presentation skills can bring a sense of calm and order to a sometimes chaotic day.

What to Look For When Choosing Your Wedding Officiant


Know the Difference Between a Minister, Officiant and Celebrant

A Minister, Pastor, Reverend, Rector, or Priest is an ordained professional and has the theological education and credentials from a specific denomination. Their credentials come from a seminary, church or ecclesiastical college. Most have pastored a church where they performed all the duties of a trusted spiritual leader. Along with this title comes the respect they are due for the education and experience they possess. This translates into someone who can help you create the ceremony that is right for you.

An Officiant is usually someone who has completed a course of study from an online company or college in the art of performing weddings. Some of them will do a fine job presiding over your wedding. This is okay if they tell you up front that they are not Ordained Ministers. If they are ordained, you may want to ask where they received their ordination?  There is a big difference between someone who was ordained online and someone who completed three years of graduate school and a rigorous ordination process.  You want to avoid the “Wedding Gig Guy.”

A Celebrant is a person who performs life celebrations for people. There are Wedding Celebrants and Funeral Celebrants. The Celebrant movement started in Australia about two decades ago and is becoming more and more popular in the United States. A Celebrant offers an alternative to a service provided by a clergy member for couples who have no church or ministerial affiliation or who don't wish to have a traditional wedding service. However, some Celebrant services are highly spiritual in nature - It all depends on the wishes of the couple. 

In my case, I am an Ordained Minister, a Wedding Officiant, and a Certified Celebrant.  I was a pastor of a church for twenty years. I hold two Master’s degrees (one is a Master of Divinity) and I was ordained through a nondenominational church.  I am a Pastor at heart.  Because of my background I chose the title “Wedding Pastor Dave.” I also perform weddings as a Wedding Officiant and as a Certified Celebrant. 


My Niche

I do exceptional wedding ceremonies for couples who are spiritual but not religious.  I believe that everyone is on a spiritual journey.  I am sensitive to where couples are at on that journey and my desire to to help them create a ceremony that is both meaningful and memorable, a ceremony that fits who they are as a couple - their wishes, desires and beliefs. My ultimate goal is to help couples launch healthy marriages that go the distance.