Ah, the marriage officiant. It’s funny how so little thought is often given to one of the most important roles at your wedding. Think about it; your officiant will probably be speaking more than any other guest, including that crazy best man speech you just know is on its way. So choose carefully, because the last thing you want is a complete stranger standing up there with you and your fiancé that just doesn’t mesh with the whole vibe of your wedding.

1.) Determine what you want in your ceremony. Every officiant is different: some of them are quite flexible when it comes to what you’d like them to say, others have a script and can be rather rigid when it comes to what you want to add or subtract from said script. If you and your fiancé are planning on writing your own vows, you’re going to need to find someone that is okay with that.

2.) Think about who you want up there with you. If you don’t want a complete stranger to be the one to make your wedding official, you need to do a bit more planning. Nowadays, it’s possible for virtually anyone become licensed to legally marry two people. A close friend or family member might be up for the job, or you could simply ask around. You never know; you might already have a mutual friend that is fully qualified to be your officiant!

3.) Think about the mood you’re going for. An officiant is, in fact, a person, so their own personality will of course be apparent during the ceremony. If you are planning on having a carefree beach wedding, than a carefree, laid back and even humorous officiant may just be a perfect fit. On the other hand, if you’re getting married in a century old church in a very traditional ceremony, a bit more modesty might be in order.

4.) Check with the venue. Sometimes, the choice of officiant is out of your hands. Some churches, for example, have their own priest or minister that performs the ceremony. Likewise, if you’re getting married at the courthouse, you might be stuck with whoever happens to be working that day.

5.) Choose someone with the same values. You don’t want someone to be up there just going through the motions; after all, this is one of the most important days of your lives! It’s important that whoever you choose is someone that will be genuinely happy for you, so make sure to interview them extensively beforehand. Are they okay with the fact that you are a mixed-race couple? That you’re having a same-sex marriage? I once attended a wedding where the officiant was clearly not on board with the idea of an entirely non-religious ceremony, and slipped in his own “God bless,” just for good measure, making it a bit awkward for everyone who knew the bride and groom’s wishes.

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