Choosing your wedding officiant is one of the most important decisions you have to make regarding your wedding, as this will set the tone of your wedding. No matter if you want to have a religious ceremony, an interfaith wedding or a civil ceremony, you have to make sure that you have chosen the right officiant for your wedding style.

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Minister, judge or a friend? Usually, if the couple shares a common religious background they decide to have their wedding officiated by a minister (priest, rabbi) in a church that has some emotional meaning to the couple, or jut to the bride or groom. If neither of the partners is religious, usually they choose to have a civil wedding, officiated by a judge or by a justice of the peace. This wedding is only sanctioned by the state, but it does give the couple all of the legal rights enjoyed by couples married in traditional religious weddings.  If you want your wedding to have a more personal meaning, you can choose one of your friends to officiate de ceremony. In this case, you have to make sure that your friend has the legal right to officiate a ceremony, so you will be legally married after de ceremony.

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Budget. In the past, ministers would perform these services for a donation, but that becomes confusing for couples not familiar with church practices. This is why in nowadays officiants have a set fee that can start, which can be negotiated, depending on the responsibilities, the relationship with the couple or other factors. The professional you hire to conduct your wedding ceremony should offer you a contract for services that spells out exactly what he/she will be doing for you on your  wedding day and several methods of payment should be available for your convenience, including credit card, check or cash.

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Experience. Your officiant should have experience to be able to handle any unexpected or embarrassing moments that could develop during the wedding ceremony. A professionally-trained wedding officiant will be poised and calm no matter what happens and be able to quickly and efficiently handle any situation with dignity and be able to finally declare that the bride and groom are husband and wife!

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Wedding location. There are situations in which a couple gets married in a different location but wants a certain wedding officiant to officiate their wedding ceremony. In this cases you have to make sure that your offciant is willing to travel, and that the cost of this travel isn’t too high. If the officiant is a family friend, he/she might travel for free, but if he/she is not she might want you to make sure he has the transportation arranged.

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Rules. There are officiant that have certain rules regarding photographing, filming, or music on your wedding day. Before you hire an officiant, you have to make sure that he agreed on your wishes, regarding the way your ceremony will take place.

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Counseling. Some couples want counseling, and others do not feel it is necessary. Counseling programs are only as good as your willingness to deeply participate. If you are simply fulfilling an obligation by attending premarital sessions, you will most likely not gain from them. Most of the ministers either offer premarital counseling or will suggest going through a marriage enrichment program. No matter what your decision is, your officiant should support your decision.

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Rehearsal ceremony. A few officiants have only one ceremony they offer. If that is the case, be sure you get to read their ceremony and make sure it harmonizes with what you want said at your wedding. Others have a few simple choices (with the option of you adding some of your own ideas) so you can create the ceremony that most speaks to you. Always ask how long they think the ceremony itself will take; this is critically important information for your facility, photographer, caterer, etc.

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Elope? Some couples decide they want to skip the stress of planning their wedding so they take a few close friends and elope. No matter if you are going to Vegas, or you just show in front of a judge, make sure that the officiant has the legal power to declare you married.

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