Before you book your venue you are going to want to make sure you have someone to write and perform your ceremony, who is also available on your day. I have had couples messaging me from the meeting with the venue manager before booking to make sure all the schedules align before booking both the venue and me at the same time.
It’s always a good idea to have an Officiant in mind, someone you’ve connected with on social media, have chatted with, and know a bit before you book you big day so you have access to their schedule ahead of time. Even if you don’t have a venue yet, but know which town or general area you will be having your wedding in, it’s perfectly fine to book your Officiant and fill in the venue details later to ensure you get the best of the best locked in for your ceremony.
Not sure if you are hiring a ‘good’ Officiant? Here are some things to look for:
– They have a strong social media presence – Facebook and Instagram for sure. Make note of how often they are posting and what they are posting. Are they showing photos of themselves with their couples at weddings? Or are they posting photos of their lunch because they don’t have any weddings to show? Do their post as though they are running a business? Or are weddings just a random blip in their life?
– A solid website with lots of information – you should be able to learn all about them in one place without having to beg for information like pricing, experience, service area, reviews etc. PROTIP – research pricing before planning your budget so you know what vendors actually cost.
– Reviews! If your Officiant doesn’t have any reviews at all, it’s likely they haven’t done a single wedding or worked with any couples yet. This equals a lack of experience, or their couples don’t like them or their work.
– Pricing that is on par with the industry standard. Keep in mind, Officiants in different areas will have different pricing. My rates are very different than a downtown Toronto Officiant as my local market couldn’t bear Toronto rates. Check out the rates of a few Officiants in the town you are having your wedding – a major red flag is a rate that is dramatically lower than the average. This tells you they don’t run their businesses like a business and it’s likely just a hobby for them (and they will ditch you for a weekend at the cottage in a heartbeat) or it could also mean they don’t have any experience and are starting low to get quick weddings to build their portfolio – we have all been there, and that’s ok. You will get what you pay for. Don’t be afraid to ask how many weddings they have done.
– They require a deposit/retainer and have a contract for you and them to sign. Never hire any wedding vendor without a contract!
– Lots of photos and blogs about their weddings. This shows you they are actually working and paying attention to their couples and their weddings. You will also be able to see what they wear and will look like in your photos…and if you think they smell good. Trust me…I’ve heard the horror stories. If their photos are from wedding photographers – this tells you they play well with others and the photographers like them enough to take time to send them photos!
– They are responsive. How long does it take for them to reply to your email or DM? Do they sound like they are having fun chatting with you? Do they seem friendly and personable? If they are open and have a great website and socials, your only question might be “are you available for our wedding?”, but if you do have more questions, how eager are they to answer them? Are their answers clear and easy to understand? How do you feel when you are talking with them? How do they reply when you ask what their booking and ceremony process is?
Here is some of the information you should prepare prior to booking your wedding Officiant and will likely be asked for on their intake form:
Details of the Day
As you can imagine, your Officiant will firstly want to know when and where you plan to get married. This will help determine availability and if we are willing to travel to your wedding venue. When you first ask your Officiant about their availability, please include the date, ceremony time, and location. “Our house” isn’t enough information – be prepared to disclose the venue or address so we can google map the driving time and determine the travel fee. Don’t be worried that random Officiants are going to show up at your house on your wedding day – a pro only shows up where they have been paid to and won’t have time to play games with you.
The Vision for Your Ceremony
Next, your officiant will want to know more about how you would like to remember your wedding ceremony. Be prepared to describe your ideal ceremony and how you want guests to remember the moment. You can also make a list of what you liked and didn’t like at other wedding ceremonies so that your officiant knows what to avoid.
If you want funny…say that! If you are very traditional…let your Officiant know that too!
I often have couples tell me they want a short and sweet ceremony and when I offer them my 5 minute quickie ceremony they say noooooo we want something around 30 minutes, which is actually longer than most ceremonies. If you know how long (in minutes) you want your ceremony to be…say that! Include any readings you like and who will be reading them, as well as who will be writing your vows.
Things your Officiant doesn’t need to know about your ceremony are: the music that will be played as you walk down the aisle, who is walking you down the aisle and why, where anyone is sitting, the colour of your napkins, and anything else that has nothing to do with the words you and your officiant will be saying, and elements of your ceremony.
To make your ceremony as relevant and personal as possible, your officiant will more than likely ask how you met and when you fell in love. I ask my couples to tell me about their lives, hobbies, and families. You don’t have to provide every small detail – your Officiant just wants to understand more about who you are as a couple. You can even provide the details of your engagement as this also offers valuable insights.
Try to come up with some interesting fun facts about yourselves! Most of the intake forms I get back from couples tell me they love their families, sitting around the fire, Netflix, and hanging out. All of this is great – and it’s why we all do these things! Try to come up with something unique to help your Officiant pick readings that speak to who you are as individuals and a couple.
How You See Your Partner
To help your Officiant learn more about who you are as individuals, he or she might ask you to describe your partner. How are they similar and different to you? What traits do you love the most and why are you marrying them? I always ask what you love about each other – an the answers are always so sweet!
This is another way we learn about you and choose readings for your ceremony!
Your Wedding Party and Guests
Since your Officiant will also be in the same room as all your guests and your wedding party, they might want to know more about the people in your lives. How did you pick your wedding party and who is on your guest list? Is it more family, friends, or a combination of both?
I don’t ask about this simply because I’m on site for such a short period of time and my entire focus is YOU. Of course I love meeting your people when I arrive, but please understand my mind is on your ceremony, and making sure everything is perfect for you.
Religion and Traditions
Your Officiant will want to know more about your religious beliefs and whether you want to include any prayers in your ceremony. If not, they may also ask if there are any particular readings you want to include. This could be anything from poetry to passages from your favorite book. If there are any specific traditions or rituals you want to include in your ceremony, this is a good time to discuss them.
My intake form includes a spot for you to say if you would like prayers, a moment of silence, or a land acknowledgement, as well as anything else you might want like a rose ceremony, sand ceremony, ring warming, wine ceremony, jumping the broom, stomping the glass (please don’t use lightbulbs, they make them unbreakable these days), unity candle ceremony, affirmation of the community and anything else you might want included!
Any Family Dynamics That Might Come up at Your Wedding
Your Officiant should want to know if there is anything they should be keeping an eye on at your ceremony. Your mom hates your dad and might cause a scene? Dad hates your mom’s new husband and won’t sit at the front? Best man had an affair with your MOH and it might blow up at your wedding? These are all things your Officiant needs to know because a great Officiant will have no trouble stepping in to calm things down as long as they are aware of it ahead of time. I have no problem taking anyone by the elbow for a little chat about what today is about and reminding them they are perfectly capable of spending the next 20 minutes in silence for YOUR sake.
Choosing the right officiant for your wedding is important, so don’t rush the decision or feel that you have to go with the first officiant you find. Choose someone you get a good feeling about!
Don’t tell them you need to see if they are a good fit if you can’t also tell them what that looks like to you. A good fit for what? It’s not likely your Officiant will be spending much time with your friends and family, and the time they spend with you is based solely on your ceremony, so don’t worry that your Officiant needs to fit into your social life, or becoming friends with you – they have one job and that should be the priority. Be more concerned with their track record than if they will be the life of the party.
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