The Officiant is a Big Deal: Got One?

wedding officiant

If you go to church, there’s a good chance you’ve already figured out the officiant part.

If you’re not a church-goer, choosing an officiant can be a tad challenging – even nerve wracking.

The officiant is a big deal. S/he sets the tone for the ceremony – and can really add (or detract) a great deal from the ceremony.

Many of the couples I featured in the real weddings section cited something the officiant said or did as the highlight of the ceremony.

Kaitlin and Chris said the highlight of their ceremony was the officiant telling the story of their life together.

“My husband and I have been together for fourteen years {before getting married} and it so beautiful and amazing to hear someone tell that story,” says Kaitlin.

Elizabeth and Hedi’s officiant also made the ceremony extra special for the couple.

“Our officiant has known me since birth. He has been like a father/mentor figure ever since I can remember and to have him officiate our ceremony and give us his unwavering blessing and joyous part in our ceremony was incredible,” says Elizabeth.

So, how do you choose the right officiant if you are not a church-goer?

Some couples choose to get married where their parents or grandparents were married, which, needless to say, makes it much easier. Other couples might choose a church merely for it’s aesthetic appeal, and take whichever officiant comes along with the church. For these couples, the physical structure of the building is more important than the man or woman behind the pulpit.

Although aesthetics definitely played a role for Darin and I, we also wanted an officiant that made us feel comfortable. We visited several churches before deciding on a local Presbyterian church. (Ironically, neither Darin or are Presbyterians.) Not only was the officiant friendly, the church’s size was perfect for an intimate ceremony – and it was beautiful.

If you’re looking for an officiant, start visiting local churches, or simply go through the Yellow Pages or search the net. It’s best to start your search as soon as possible to ensure availability.

Another option that will make your wedding even more personalized is to have a friend or loved one act as your wedding officiant, like several of the couples featured in the real weddings section of Intimate Weddings.

Sherry and Jon had a relative perform their ceremony.

“[The ceremony] was performed by John’s cousin and good friend who got certified just for us,” says Sherry, who adds that this made it more personal.

Becoming certified as an officiant is quite simple. The Universal Life Church, a non-denominational church, offers free ordination to anyone that requests it. Ordination can be done online are via snail mail.

It’s important to check out the laws in your state to see if this type of ordination is recognized; in some states it is not.

Photo: McKenzie and Jeremy’s Real Wedding photographed by Embrace Life Photography

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4 Comments  |  Filed Under: Wedding Ceremony

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  1. Posted by Jon Bassinger-Flores on July 29th, 2010 at 3:30am

    It's definitely important to pick an officiant who you feel comfortable with. I always meet any couple who is interested in me so that they get to know me and my style. There are so many wedding officiants in the Los Angeles area, but finding just the right person can be a challenge!
  2. Posted by Paula on July 29th, 2010 at 8:59am

    I agree - you want to get emotional (in a good way) when thinking about your officiant's words and the way s/he said them, so it is a very important choice
  3. Posted by Rev. Bob Tousey on January 29th, 2011 at 4:20pm

    When selecting an officiant do not be affraid to ask questions. Some important ones might be the officiant's background. If it is important to have someone committed to the faith you may not be happy with an officiant who was ordained on line and will perform any type of ceremony. Will the officiant attend the rehearsal? Is pre marriage prep required? What happens if the officiant gets sick and can not make it? Make sure the officiant is someone who fits with your personality. Be leary of one who wants to do everything over email or the phone and the first time you see each other is the day of the wedding.
  4. Posted by Michelle on March 28th, 2014 at 4:29am

    Yes The officiant is a big deal. They bring more life to the moment you say, "I Do!"
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