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4 Easy Tips on How to Hire a Wedding Officiant for Your Big Day

How to Hire a Wedding Officiant for Your Big Day
Hiring an officiant for your wedding need not be a difficult task. Wedessence gives you some tips on finding, selecting, and hiring one for your big day!
Sujata Iyer
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
If you're having a civil ceremony, then as a wedding gift to you, ask a friend to get ordained and be your officiant!
In the chaos that goes into planning a wedding, from matching the bridesmaids' dresses to the cake, favors, and food being perfect, one important thing that may get overlooked is hiring the right officiant for the ceremony. It is after all the officiant who pronounces you man and wife for the very first time. So, it is exceptionally imperative that the person you choose to perform the ceremony be perfect for the job. Let us see how you can go about hiring a wedding officiant for your big day!
Who Can Get You Married
More important than being perfect, the person you choose to officiate your marriage should be legally permitted to do so. In the United States, any member of clergy (any religion) is allowed to perform a marriage. If you're thinking of a non-religious ceremony, then a judge, a justice of the peace, or a court clerk, who is ordained and licensed to perform a marriage can do so. The state laws regarding these vary, so make sure to check with your local and state laws before you hire an officiant.
How to Find an Officiant
Couple finding an Officiant using laptop
For a religious ceremony, suppose you are a part of a church, inquire with them. They are bound to have someone who can officiate your ceremony.

There are various non-religious organizations that offer officiant services as well. A couple of examples are the American Ethical Union and the American Humanist Association.
The website of the American Association of Wedding Officiants is a great resource to find an officiant―religious or civil. There are a lot of other websites too that offer state-wise officiant services. So, browse the Internet if all else fails.
As mentioned above, you can even ask someone you know to get ordained for a one-time role as a wedding officiant.
What to Do When You Find One
So, you've found an officiant or have a few options to choose from. Here's a little guide on how to go from there.
Counseling session of couple with officiant
Book in advance: It is advisable to book an officiant at least a year or so in advance. This will help both parties get acquainted with each other over time (if you do not already know each other). Keep in mind that many religious officiants will recommend a counseling session(s) before the wedding. Another reason why it would do you good to hire him in advance.
Couple talking with officiant
Have a talk: When it comes to a wedding officiant, it's all about the disposition of the person. And to understand this better, you need to meet or at least speak to him firsthand. When you're interviewing him, make a note of his voice, its clarity, and his level of sincerity. Does he seem like a person who can keep the crowd's attention throughout the ceremony? Ask him where and for how long he has been trained. Ask him how many marriages he has performed till date. Ask him to show you video clips of some of them. Your wedding ceremony is the most important part of your wedding. Hence, any officiant will appreciate the relevance of such questions and requests, and will accommodate them without batting an eyelid.
Couple discussing with Wedding officiant
Discuss the fee: Wedding officiants are not inexpensive to hire. Unless you are a member of a congregation, in which case there is generally no fee, the fee will depend to a large extent on the location of the wedding. A wedding conducted at a house of worship generally requires no fee for officiating. However, donations to the house itself are much appreciated.
For non-members, the fee can be quite high (ranging from USD 35 to as high as USD 1500), and each meeting with the officiant prior to the wedding may be chargeable.

The fee of a civil officiant depends again, on the location, but it can be just as expensive as for non-members of a congregation.
After Hiring
After you've taken the above points into consideration, and found the officiant to conduct the ceremony, there are aspects of the ceremony that you need to discuss with him. Here's a bunch of questions you can ask.
➽ Can I have the details of the entire ceremony including what you will be saying?

➽ How long will the entire ceremony take?

➽ How early would you like to reach the venue to ensure that everything is in place?

➽ Will you conduct the entire ceremony as per your style or can we add our own personal touches as well?

➽ What all does your fee include?

➽ Do you have a stand-in in case you can't make it?

➽ What are the fees for cancellation?
Though not compulsory, it is good etiquette to extend a formal invitation for your reception to your wedding officiant. It is also customary for the best man to hand over the payment (made by the groom) to the officiant after the ceremony has concluded. Keeping these little details in mind goes a long way in guaranteeing that your wedding be a grand success.