If there is anyone who knows couples and their wedding officiant needs, its Larry James, who provided the following excellent ideas for couples choosing an officiant.
I recently had a meeting with a couple who was searching for the right wedding officiant. I was impressed.
Never having been married before, they brought a list of questions that helped both of us to get to know each other better. They interviewed me, not the other way around. Some of their questions led to discussions of other areas of the ceremony that kept the conversation centered on what they needed to know to make an informed decision.
Write down ideas for questions whether they make sense or not. A professional wedding officiant will be willing to answer all of your questions. If you have never hired a wedding officiant or minister before, you may not know what questions to ask. Here are a few questions you might consider asking:
• How flexible is the wedding officiate to changing parts of the ceremony that you may not like?
• Will they permit you to write some of your own vows? (I call them, “Personal Promises!)
• What is the process for creating your ceremony?
• Is there anything that they will not say or do?
• How many wedding ceremonies have they performed?
• Have they ever been late for or missed a wedding?
• How many weddings do they perform in an average year?
• Do they have a “back-up” in case of extreme illness of emergency?
• Talk about your spiritual faith so the officiant can adjust the ceremony accordingly.
• Will they marry you if you are of different faiths?
• Will the wedding officiant perform “theme” weddings?
• Are there any restrictions as to your attire, or the bridal party’s attire?
• Who gave them the right to perform wedding ceremonies in your state?
• Can they legally perform wedding ceremonies in your state.
• What are their spiritual beliefs? (Be sure to tell them what YOUR spiritual beliefs are and ask if they will make changes to honor your beliefs)
• Will the ceremony be a religious, non-denominational or secular ceremony?
• Will the ceremony be traditional or non-traditional?
• Will they provide a little light-hearted humor if that is what you want?
• Do they require premarital or religious classes? Is relationship coaching available, if you want it? What are those requirements?
• Are they qualified to offer premarital relationship coaching if you want it?
• What is their fee? Do they require a deposit to secure the date? Does the fee include the rehearsal?
• When is the balance of the fee due? What forms of payment do they accept?
• Are there any hidden charges?
• How many meetings will be necessary to finalize the words in the ceremony?
• Do they attend the rehearsal dinner and the reception, if invited?
• Will they give a blessing or prayer before the meal at the reception?
• How will they be dressed? Will they wear a suit or a robe?
• If you have children, do they have some creative ideas of ways to include them in the ceremony?
• Do they have a “Refund Proceedure or Cancelation Prceedure and is it part of the agreement?
• Do they have references that they are willing to share with you?
• Would they allow another Officiant, Minister/Rabi or Priest to take part in the ceremony?
• Is flash photography allowed during the ceremony?
• What kind of microphone does the officiant perfer?
• Are there any restrictions on photography or videography?
• How accessible/responsive are you by phone and by e-mail?
• Do they work well with other wedding vendors? Will they recommend other wedding vendors?
• If you have been living together, be sure to ask if they will preform your ceremony.
Remember, this is YOUR wedding, not the wedding officiant’s or the minister’s. There are no stupid questions. Ask about whatever you want to know.
The couple I referred to above got all their questions answered and the meeting ended with them presenting me with a deposit to secure the time and date of their wedding.
If the vendor does not have a written agreement (contract) you might be wise to hire someone who does. All the details of the wedding should be covered.
Go with your gut feeling or intuition. If it feels right and your personalities click, hire them.
This is your very special day. It will only happen once. A lackluster minister or wedding officiant with a boring ceremony – like most of the others you’ve heard – can leave the guests cold and uninspired. They should be the very best you can hire. I know its cliché, but you really do get what you pay for. Perhaps the primary deciding factor should be a wedding officiant/minster performs the most memorable and unique wedding ceremony for you and your guests and what other extras do they offer in their package that other ministers do not. You will enjoy the comfort and assurance of knowing you are contracting with a first-class minister who comes with professional experience, impeccable integrity, commendable references, a gentle and enthusiastic spirit and a subtle, but delightful sense of humor (hmmm, sounds like a description of Larry James).
I would never recommend that you make your decision to hire a wedding officiant or minister on price alone. There are numerous other areas that you can cut back on when the $$s are tight.
Ask yourselves: Do we feel comfortable with this person? Is there a clear green light to engage their services? If not, don’t move forward until all your questions or concerns are completely resolved. Often, just talking about your concerns with the officiant or minister will help you be clear.
The busiest months for weddings in the Greater Phoenix area are: March, April & May and October, November & December. The summers in Arizona are often too warm for outdoor weddings. That’s when couples book their wedding indoors.
Choice dates book quickly. If the wedding officiant is good their schedule is most likely very busy. Why does that matter to you? If you wait to book them, the date of your wedding could be booked by someone else before you offer a deposit to secure the date. In the Greater Phoenix area this happens frequently, especially after a bridal show or during the busy season.
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Reprinted with permission. – This article is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is an award winning Wedding Officiant, professional speaker, relationship coach and is the author of, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry performs the most “romantic” wedding ceremony you will ever find anywhere. Contact: CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. http://www.CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com & http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com.