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Find An Officiant to Perform Your Wedding

Updated on March 30, 2014

Find An Officiant to Perform Your Wedding

Searching For a Religious Officiant

If you or your partner, grew up belonging to a church or synagogue, the chances are you know that particular house of worship well and you might know an officiant their well, then most probably choosing someone on whom to marry you, is almost a non-decision. There is a strong likelihood you know the officiant well and very comfortable talking to whom on marriage related things and about the wedding ceremony. You still need to contact your wedding officiant far in advance of your wedding to be sure he will be available on the day of your wedding and book him. Some churches require premarital counseling, so you will have to have meetings with your officiant as well as book a church and plan a wedding ceremony.

If you don't have a particular officiant in mind, you need to discuss with your partner what type of religious affiliation you want for your wedding, or maybe you want to include both of your religions in the ceremony, which is called an interfaith ceremony. You will want to discuss the religious upbringing of any future children. You need to ask yourselves, do the two of you have the same religious faith or do you have differences of opinion of your religious faith? You need to determine, do you want your future children to grow up in a specific religious faith or should the children be exposed to both of your religions.

Maybe one of you is very religious and the other is not. Maybe the two of you aren't religious at all, but your families are and it is best to have a religious wedding ceremony. You will need to decide as a couple, do you want a religious ceremony or not, before you start the search for a wedding officiant. The size of your wedding also needs to fit into your officiant equation. Is your wedding going to big, medium, or small. If your wedding is big, you might want your wedding at a cathedral or mega-church, if it's medium sized, a medium sized church will do, or if it's small, find a small church or chapel.

If you plan to marry at a religious institution, most churches or synagogues won't marry you unless you are a member. Most religious institutions won't allow a wedding until after you are a member of that church for at least a period of six months. Some of the major religious affiliations include baptist, catholic, christian, Greek orthodox, Jewish, Korean, Mormon, Methodist, and Presbyterian, and there are hundreds of others. Once you decide on a religious affiliation and find a church that can handle the size wedding you want, you should hunt for a church and officiant.

Before deciding to become a member of a church or synagogue, you need to be sure the one you are thinking of choosing is the right one for the two of you. You should talk to some officiants and attend a few religious services, and then ask yourselves is this church the right one for you. Also check out the church's doctrine, creed, and website. Are there programs the church provides, the church may offer evening programs you might enjoy and make friends, study the Bible or scripture or partake in counseling programs?

Before deciding on an officiant to marry you, it would be a good idea to interview with a number of officiants. You want to find an officiant that is right for you as a couple. Someone you are both comfortable talking to you, someone that puts you at ease in conversation, someone that exudes with confidence and who has a calming presence. You want an officiant who is passionate about weddings, someone who has a lot of energy who can inspire and excite your wedding guest. You want to search for an officiant who is into your story and is someone who is easy to understand and is a good conversationalist.

You want to find an officiant who knows the laws of marriage, someone who can tell a good story, someone who has a good temperament and someone you can go to and talk to if a situation arises in your life. You want an officiant who is not insistent on upgrading you to a higher level of service. You want an officiant you can create a beautiful wedding ceremony with.

Many churches require you to go through a pre-marriage counseling program before they will marry you. This program goes through many aspects of marriage. Some of these programs have you fill a a questionaire, have you take a personality test, and have role playing segments, sometimes a session with other couples, sometimes with all ladies, and sometimes with all guys. This program goes through many things you will encounter at marriage, such as effective communicating, conflict resolution, being faithful to God and each other, how to budget and manage a household, how to handle babies and children, pregnancy, and dealings with family, friends, and work.

Once you identify a good officiant to perform your marriage, you want to be sure the officiant is available the date of your wedding. You want to book the officiant far in advance of your wedding, he/she should be one of the first vendors you book for your wedding. The officiant should put you in contact with church administrators to secure the church for your wedding. The church administrator can help you with wedding ceremony needs, give you advice on your wedding ceremony and help you find church musicians, such as a church organist, help you with church readings, and help with decorator the church.

Other church matters need to be covered such as church sound and lighting, is there a holding room for the bride and for musicians. You should also discuss with your officiant backup arrangements, should the officiant get sick or if a wedding issues arise. You also need to address, who cleans the church after the wedding ceremony, can you use a volunteer or must you use the church janitor, are there hymnal books available for the ceremony music or a guide for the wedding ceremony program?

Planning For a Catholic Marriage Ceremony

ESV New Classic Reference Bible

An Introduction to Marriage Preparation

Where to Find Church Officiants

For weddings that are secular and not religious, there are a number of places to find wedding officiants. You can load wedding planning apps onto your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and many of these apps have wedding vendors with an officiant category. There are a number of wedding directories that have an officiant category. Some of the popular and reputable directories online include , , , , , and .

You can also find wedding officiants from search engines, input your city or town and input "officiants", "wedding ministers", "chaplains", "justice of the peace", or "notary". You can also contact a wedding chapel and they have officiants that can marry you. Some chapels might require you to use their wedding chapel and some can marry you at a destination. You can also find officiants by using the yellow pages, and look under the titles mentioned in quotes above.

Don't assume every officiant you interview with are good officiants at handling weddings. You should interview every officiant before hiring them and you want to discuss what officiant you choose with your partner to be sure you are both satisfied with the selection. Don't assume your partner is in agreement with you. Talk it over when you get a private moment. Any officiant you should choose you should try to see them in action before booking them. If you can see the officiant in action live at another way, at least see them in action on tape, sometimes they have a snippet on their website or Youtube video. If you can't see them work a wedding, see how good they are giving a sermon.

You want to see the officiant conduct a beautiful and organized wedding ceremony. The person you choose must have the skill, knowledge, and experience to conduct a wedding ceremony. The officiant should possess excellent public speaking skills and communication skills and be relatable to your wedding guests, keep their interest, and be able to convey good stories, anecdotes, and provide inspirational readings. The officiant should have knowledge of ceremony styles, formats, options, placements, and timing. A good wedding officiant is cool, calm, and collected when things don't go according to plan. He or she should be able to effectively communicate with wedding vendors.

You also want a wedding officiant who has an understanding of wedding licenses, legal matters, familiar with county and state documents any other important papers pertaining to weddings and who has the experience and training to handle weddings. Ideally your officiant, besides running your wedding ceremony, has the ability to run an organized rehearsal. Hiring the right officiant , will make or break your wedding ceremony, the right officiant is professional, organized, and makes your wedding into a memorable experience.

Rev. Steve Durkac's Wedding Ceremony

Have Family or Friend Perform Your Wedding

In this day and age, a couple can have a family relative or friend perform their wedding. Occasionally this works well, but also many times the wedding service does not go perfectly. If a couple decides to go this route, be careful to find an individual who is up to the task, is organized, is comfortable in speaking in front of many people, and can help put together a nice wedding ceremony. It is recommended to be safe and go with an officiant who performs weddings as part of their living.

For those couples who have found an individual who they look up to, and is interested in performing their wedding, there are a couple of places online for someone to get their minister license that allows them to perform weddings. One website is with the Universal Life Church, their website is and another is .

If a family or friend decides that are willing to perform your wedding and sign up to become an ordained minister, you need to be sure they would be comfortable in that role. Besides being comfortable at public speaking, they need to learn how to conduct a wedding ceremony including the planning of the ceremony with the bride and groom. They need to become familiar with both the bride and groom's family and members of the wedding party that are participating in the wedding as well as coordinate readings and if there are any musicians, when they should play.

When creating a wedding ceremony, it is highly recommended to write out a script, a wedding can't be ad-lib, it's too of an important occasion to risk the chance of a brain freeze. The officiant should printout a ceremony in an easy to read format and make it double spaced. The wording should be clearly readable at a nice font size. Where the wording is, the officiant can make notations or highlight with a marker actions to take place inside of a ceremony. It is a nice idea to have the ceremony script in a nice looking book, binder, or even on an iPad. The book or binder cover you might color scheme to the couple's wedding scheme so they can keep the wedding ceremony as a wedding keepsake.

The online ministries are there to train you, answer questions, and give advice and provide plenty of online resources to help you plan a wedding ceremony. They are there to help you handle the wedding paperwork and can help in music selections and suggest ceremony readings and provide information on how the wedding couple can pick up their marriage license in every state and county.

In many states, the officiant must registry with a local ministry and often there are fees that need to be paid, some states have a one time fee and in other states the ministry license may have to be renewed annually. Be careful, some religions will not allow their parishioners to become ministers to perform marriages, if they find out you can be excommunicated by that church. Some religions that don't allow this includes the Catholic, Anglican, and Mormon church.

If you are planning to minister and get your license and perform a wedding ceremony for a wedding couple, you want to take plenty time to prepare, practice, and review the ceremony program and plan the ceremony with the wedding couple. You want to effectively communicate with the wedding couple and set up a dress rehearsal of the ceremony too. Learn who all the participants of the wedding, any readings, and become familiar with any music played for the wedding. The day of the wedding, arrive at least an hour early for the wedding ceremony so you are relaxed and refreshed. Be sure all the wedding guests can hear you in a good loud tone, not too soft or loud of a voice, if wedding guests are spread outand can't hear you, use a microphone.

ULC Minister Wedding Training

Where to Find Wedding Program Scripts

There are many wedding program scripts you can find online. The type of wedding script you want to use depends on the type of wedding ceremony that you want. Do you want your wedding to be religious, secular, or does it need to be an interfaith wedding ceremony. Some recommended websites to find wedding scripts are listed below.





Wedding Officiant Fees

When you interview with a wedding officiant, ask what their fee's are. The fees a wedding officiant charges is very varied, if you are a member of a church, sometimes there is no fee and the priest or minister may just ask you to make a nice donation to the church. Other officiants may charge anywhere from $200 and up, many $400, and some may charge even something like $3,500.

Often to book with an officiant, they require a deposit to acquire their services. Make sure you understand the officiants fee structure, sometimes their fees include the services of a church administrator, church sound and lighting engineer, an organist, a janitor, and the rental of a church. Their fees also may include travel. Some officiants have a fee structure and different fees provide additional services such as church decorations. Make sure you understand the officiants fees and there are no hidden charges.

Unity Candle Ceremony

Unity Candle Ceremony

The unity candle is a relatively new addition to the wedding ceremony. The ceremony starts with two small unity candles and one large pillar candle which is called the unity candle. At the beginning of the wedding ceremony, a family representative, usually the mothers of the bride and groom light the two tapered candles.

Later in the wedding ceremony, after the formal vows of the wedding ceremony is stated, the bride and groom approach the two tapered candles and together will take the tapered candle and will light the large unity candle together.

During the unity candle ceremony, often special interlude music is played. During some of the unity candle ceremonies and the lighting of the pillar candles, some officiants will say a few words such as the candles symbolize the joining of the bride's and groom's lives permanently together. Generally, in many ceremonies, the two tapered candles are left burning, and in other ceremonies, the couple blows out their respective taper candle out.

Some churches don't allow the unity candle ceremony as part of their service, many catholic and Anglican churches don't allow unity candles as part of their service. If you want a unity candle ceremony as part of the wedding ceremony, you need to check with your officiant and your church.

Unity Sand Ceremony

Unity Sand Ceremony

Another popular ceremony in weddings in recent years is the Unity Sand Ceremonies. A few years back they were mostly seen at beach weddings, and now more, unity sand ceremonies are often seen in a number of church weddings. The sand offers symbolism to a wedding ceremony and is visually appealing. Often the Unity Sand leaves the wedding couple with a meaningful souvenir from their wedding day.

A unity sand ceremony involves a symmetric blending of two different colored sands from two small vessels into one large vessel. The meaning of the two different colored sands, being once they are joined together, they are one and once joined together it is very difficult to separate the two. Many officiants create a unity sand ceremony story that provides a meaning. Interlude music is often played during the unity sand ceremony.


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