How to Find and Choose A Wedding Officiant

July 30, 2023 | justine

Keep reading to learn how to find and choose your wedding officiant. Image by Love Bears.

The wedding officiant is a vital part of your special day. They lead the ceremony, including your vows, and set the tone for your marriage. They also handle the legal aspects of your marriage license. Simply put, finding the right wedding officiant is vital, but how do you make the best choice for you and your partner?

To help you find the perfect person, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about wedding officiants. From finding and hiring one in your area to understanding their role in the ceremony, we’ve answered all your frequently asked questions.

Image by The Kitcheners. See more of this real wedding here.

What is a Wedding Officiant?

The wedding officiant has a vital role in overseeing and leading the ceremony, ensuring that your marriage is legally recognized. They guide the flow and sign your marriage license to make it official. Wedding officiants can include religious leaders but often refer to non-religious individuals who marry couples. This is helpful for couples who don’t follow a specific religion or come from different religious backgrounds and want to include different elements in their ceremony.

However, wedding officiants go beyond directing the ceremony. They forge a meaningful bond with you, your partner, and your loved ones, making the whole experience memorable. Particularly for couples who lack strong family support, they also offer valuable support. They act as storytellers of love, crafting a unique ambiance for the beginning of your life together.

Who Can Officiate a Wedding?

Who can officiate your wedding depends on where you’re getting married and the type of wedding you want. Only ordained people legally authorized by the state can perform a legally recognized marriage. The requirements for wedding officiants vary by state or country, so you should check online or contact your county clerk for all the necessary information. If you’re having a religious wedding, your faith might dictate who can officiate. You may need a specific clergy member to oversee the ceremony.

It’s important to know that the person who conducts your ceremony may not always be able to officiate legally. If you have a friend you want to be your officiant, but they’re not ordained, you can still have a symbolic ceremony and make it official by getting legally married at a courthouse. Likewise, suppose you’re planning a destination wedding. In that case, some couples opt to legally marry at a courthouse before or after the destination ceremony to ensure everything is legally recognized.

Image by Grace Torres. See more of this real wedding right here.

What Are the Types of Wedding Officiants?

The type of ceremony you want will largely determine what kind of wedding officiant you hire. For example, if you’re hoping to have a modern, nontraditional ceremony, a religious officiant in a house of worship might be off the table (although not necessarily!).

A variety of people can officiate a wedding, and we’re here to take a look at each type so you can find a wedding officiant near you that’s a good fit for the task at hand. 


These all-rounders can be ordained clergy, secular professionals, or even judges. They conduct religious or secular ceremonies for marriages and other rites.

Religious Wedding Officiant

Perfect if you belong to a specific church group or religious organization or wish to tie the knot in a house of worship. Priests, rabbis, ministers, and other religious officiants excel at traditional ceremonies, although some may be open to customization.

Secular Wedding Officiant

If you prefer a nonreligious ceremony with flexibility and creativity, a certified nonreligious celebrant is your go-to. They perform secular, same-sex, and interfaith ceremonies.

Interfaith Ministers

Bringing people from different religions together is their specialty. Interfaith ministers also work with same-sex and non-religious couples, crafting unique and personalized wedding services.

Civil Wedding Officiant

Tasked with legalizing your marriage, civil officiants witness and validate your consent for the wedding license. They’re registered with the local city clerk’s office and can make your union official.

Friends or Family Members

Ever thought of having a loved one officiate? It’s easier and more affordable to get ordained online nowadays. Ask your close friend or family member if they’re up for the task. It’s a fantastic way to add a personal touch to your vows. Just remember to check the ordination requirements in your state to ensure compliance with local rules.

Image by Carlos Elizondo. See more of this destination wedding here.

Must-Ask Questions When Choosing a Wedding Officiant

Choosing the right wedding officiant is a big decision, and conducting interviews can help ensure a good fit. While experienced officiants will often guide the conversation, it’s important to voice what matters most to you as a couple. Here are some must-ask questions:

What Is Your Role as a Wedding Officiant?

Understanding their responsibilities is key. They prepare and perform the ceremony, handle legal paperwork, and may participate in rehearsals if needed.

Can You Share Your Experience Officiating Weddings?

Ask about their years of experience and the number and types of ceremonies they have officiated. Testimonials and browsing their website and social media can also give you insights into their style and presence.

How Do You Create a Wedding Ceremony? Do You Personalize It?

Inquire about their process for creating a ceremony. Do they personalize it based on your story? Will you have input on what is said and the vows? Some officiants may use questionnaires or require premarital counseling for religious ceremonies.

Are You Able to Perform Rituals Important to Us?

If you want to incorporate specific cultural or religious rituals, ensure the officiant is knowledgeable and comfortable leading those rites authentically.

How Long Are Your Wedding Ceremonies Typically?

Discuss the desired length of the ceremony to ensure it aligns with your vision and fits within your wedding day timeline. Most ceremonies run around 30-45 minutes for guest enjoyment and comfort.

What Are Your Fees and Are There Any Additional Costs We Should Consider?

Discuss the officiant’s fees and additional costs such as travel or meals. Professional officiant fees start from $800. Meanwhile, religious leader fees start at $500, and civil servant fees range from $250 to $400. Review the contract carefully and clarify any concerns.

Do You Meet the Legal Requirements to Officiate Weddings in Our State?

Ensure they fulfill the legal requirements in your state to avoid any complications. Each state has different rules for authorized officiants, so verifying their eligibility is crucial.

Image by Aurelia Baca. See more of this real wedding right here.

What Does the Wedding Officiant Say?

When it comes to what the officiant says at your wedding, the possibilities are endless. It’s all about you and your preferences, as well as the style of your officiant. Let’s break it down in a fun and easy way:

Setting the Tone

The officiant sets the tone by guiding the ceremony order and welcoming your guests with heartfelt words. They might even share a little message or a sweet story. Then comes the exciting part—your vows and declaration of intent. The officiant will lead you and your partner through this special moment.

Making It Personal

Depending on your preferences, the officiant might also help with unity rituals or personalized vows. It’s a chance to make your ceremony truly unique and tailored to your love story. If you’re having a religious ceremony, special readings or prayers might be included, adding an extra touch of spirituality.

Sealing the Deal

Of course, the most important part is when the officiant declares you legally wed. Cue the cheers and applause! They’ll wrap up the ceremony with some closing words and instructions to ensure everything ends on a high note.

Officiating is a blend of storytelling and connecting with you and your guests. It’s not just about speaking but creating an unforgettable experience. So, whether you choose a professional from our vendor directory or a loved one to officiate, make sure they can capture the magic and make it extra special with their words. 

Once you’ve chosen your wedding officiant, it’s time to prepare for the ceremony. Get ready to make it memorable and personal. Look at some vows examples to find inspiration for your heartfelt promises. Explore touching readings and poems that capture the essence of your love story. And don’t forget about the music! Choose songs that hold a special meaning for you and your partner. With these elements in place, your ceremony will be a beautiful reflection of your unique journey together.

Image by Elvira Kalviste. See more of this rooftop celebration right here.

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