One of the many things- and perhaps the most important-on an engaged couples to do list is to choose a wedding officiant or celebrant. For couples who belong to a church or synagogue their choice is somewhat obvious. However, for those not in that category, who may be having a destination wedding at a location far from home or wants a civil ceremony, the choice is less clear.
First, decide if you want a civil or religious ceremony. Religious ceremonies are performed by members of the clergy ie., priest, rabbi, or ministers. Civil ceremonies are performed by an officiant who is certified in accordance to state law ie,. county clerk, justice of the peace, or mayor ect. Someone who is not a member of a church or synagogue who wants a religious ceremony can find a clergy by calling local churches and a religion’s headquarters for referrals.
Book your officiant early, up to one year out is not out of the question. Be aware many religions require or strongly suggest couples attend premarital counseling prior to the wedding.
Meet with your officiant a couple of times prior to the ceremony and find out their approach to the service and what the ceremony will entail. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice. After all, this is probably your first time at bat getting married and the officiant has more than likely performed hundreds of ceremonies.
If you are a member of the congregation you may not have to pay for your clergyman’s services. However, a gift of appreciation is customary. Nonmembers can expect to $100-$250 plus costs of travel. A contribution is also expected if you use a house of worship. The costs of a civil officiate depends on locality. The best man usually hands over the loot immediately following the ceremony.
Reverend Corey Newell, a local pastor and officiant in Hampton Roads Virginia has married over 700 brides in his career. He likes to get to “know” the couple by learning how they met and what they like about each other. During the ceremony he focuses on the things that are important to the couple. He feels on your wedding day, that is the only thing that matters.
Remember, your wedding officiant will be front and center at your ceremony their style and personality should personable and engaging. Choose wisely.