So, you’ve put a lot of thought into your wedding already, the dress, your colors, flower, decor (hopefully hiring me for a wedding video) but have you thought much about the ceremony itself?
In today’s blog, I want to talk about what to look for when hiring the wedding officiant and what sorts of things you should ask and look out for when hiring them.
Wedding Officiant Types
The type of wedding ceremony that you want will largely be based on what type of officiant you will want to choose. Here in the Roanoke Valley, there are many great people to choose from and many offer several different styles.
This is one of the more common types of wedding officiants in that they can perform both secular or religious ceremonies. Sometimes they can be an ordained clergy member, a professional secular officiant or you can sometimes find them in the legal world such as a judge or elected official.
This is your typical priest, rabbi, minister or other religious officiant. A member of the clergy is a great option for couples seeking a more traditional ceremony, as most mainstream religious celebrants won’t deviate from traditional ceremonies.
A certified, nonreligious celebrant has training and certification from an organization like the Celebrant USA Foundation & Institute or other secular humanist organizations such as the American Humanist Association or the American Ethical Union. They're often unaffiliated with any religion and perform secular, same-sex and interfaith ceremonies. The more secular the officiant, the more creative license you’ll likely have over what is said, read, sung or played during the ceremony.
You can also have a friend or family member perform the ceremony if you live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are however some steps they’ll need to take in order to be able to perform your service, I recommend visiting the Get Ordained website to get more information on how to go about getting your friend or family member legal to be able to perform your service.
Add Elements of Personalization
A good officiant will work closely with a couple to plan a meaningful ceremony. Having a close friend officiate who is ordained can be fun because they know you on a personal level, but any good officiant will take the time to get to know you well. Hiring one with experience also means that he or she already knows how to write and deliver wedding ceremonies with grace and confidence.
The best and most memorable ceremonies are not cookie-cutter – they are personal and invoke just the right amount of emotion from tears to laughter. Many wedding ceremonies include the couple’s story and thoughtful commentary about why they love each other and how well they complement each other in life, and now, in marriage. If you’re officiant does not take the time to listen or read about your story, you risk a ceremony that feels impersonal. This day is all about you as a couple, and that should start right from the beginning with your ceremony.
If you’re unsure about how to go about writing vows or choosing readings, an experienced officiant can be of tremendous help, pointing you to helpful resources and offering advice. Readings can be one of the most difficult things to choose if they do not have a direct connection to the couple. Your officiant may recommend cutting any unnecessary readings to shorten the time frame, or at least, offer guidance about what type of reading might fit in.
Ask to see a video
Yup, ask to see a wedding video where they performed a ceremony. It will give you a great idea of their style and you’ll be able to see first hand how they are in front of a crowd and see if you like their style. Many times they will be able to direct you to a wedding video or at least a wedding video company and they’ll be able to provide you a working sample.
How they Handle Noise
For some couples, having low noise is very important. I suggest that you ask how they would handle this. Sometimes, unfortunate situations happen and having one or two rowdy guests who are either whispering during the ceremony or loudly Snapchatting every moment, it's important to know how he or she will handle it. Depending on the answer, this will let you know the level of professionalism when settling the situation. It should determine if you should hire them, but it’s good to know how they’ll react if someone’s being loud at the service.
Length of the Ceremony
Ask about the ceremony length. Some couples want a long ceremony, others want it as short as possible. Some officiants are totally amenable to creating a ceremony in accordance with the couples wishes and others have a standard amount of time and programming to which they like to adhere.
The Marriage License
Also, be sure to ask about the marriage license and when they will send in the documentation to the commonwealth. Some do it quickly, others might take a week to mail it in. In either case, especially if its someone new like a friend who performed the ceremony, make sure they can send off that paperwork!
Finally, pick someone that you will simply enjoy. I know several people right here in the Roanoke Valley that are extremely capable to perform a wedding for you. I do encourage you to provide them a small tip or bonus as a way of saying “Thank you”. Wedding officiants on average will range from $150-$250+ here in Southwestern Virginia so giving them a small tip like $25-$50. it will be more appreciated when you do, trust me.
If you found today’s blog useful, drop me a message and let me know. If there is something that you would like to know about the wedding industry here in SWVA, ask me. I have a wealth of knowledge about the wedding business and I’m always happy to connect with you and help guide you in the right direction with your wedding plans.