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On your wedding day, there will be plenty of people that matter. But in addition to the happy couple and rightful center of attention, one stands out among most: the officiant who will actually marry you. 

This is not a decision you should take lightly. You’ll need to consider plenty of variables, from the type of ceremony you want to whether or not you should know the officiant beforehand. Windows on the Water can help you find the perfect officiant, putting a bow on what should be a perfect day for you and your partner.

Steps to Find the Best Officiant For Your Wedding

Some of the most important steps to take in order to find your officiant include:

1. Define the Type of Ceremony You Want

Wedding officiants come in many shapes and sizes, and the perfect option for your wedding will vary dramatically based on the type of ceremony you’re hoping they will officiate. For example:

  • For a religious ceremony: You’ll likely need an officially recognized official of that church to perform the service. That might be the church’s priest, rabbi, pastor, minister, etc. You’ll also need to ensure that your ceremony follows the necessary customs and traditions.
  • For a secular ceremony: Flexibility for who can marry you in this case increases dramatically. Anyone who is licensed to officiate weddings can perform secular ceremonies, which is why you sometimes see friends and family members perform these duties.
  • For a civil ceremony: You can ask a local judge or justice of the peace to officiate. This will most likely happen at the local courthouse, although you might find some judges willing to perform more personalized ceremonies at different locations as well.

Decide on this with your spouse-to-be early on. That allows you to not only better plan your venue, but also make sure you find the right officiant for your needs.

2. Build a List of Potential Officiants

Next, and based on the type of ceremony you’ve chosen, it’s time to begin your research. For religious ceremonies, that might be simple – if you personally know the church official, your choice will be obvious and even if not, that choice may be made for you.

For the other two types of ceremonies, though, thorough research can pay off. A few sources you can leverage to create your list of potential officiants include:

  • Asking your friends and family if anyone is licensed to officiate a wedding in your state
  • Getting recommendations from friends and family members who have recently gotten married
  • Browsing local wedding databases for professional officiants
  • Asking your wedding venue if they have had positive experiences with or recommendations for officiants
  • Checking with your local clerk’s office for a list of potential officiants for civil services

Keep your search narrowed to the exact type of ceremony you want. That way, you avoid the risk of going deeper into the process with an officiant who will eventually decline your partnership.

3. Interview Your Favorite Potential Options

Based on the above list, you should potentially have a few officiants that you would be perfectly comfortable with for your wedding. Now, it’s time to have an in-depth conversation about whether or not they truly are the right fit for you. A few questions you can ask in that interview include:

  • Are you licensed to officiate weddings in my state?
  • How many weddings have you officiated in the last few years?
  • How do you like to structure your ceremony?
  • How much flexibility is there in structuring the ceremony?
  • Do you charge a fee to officiate weddings and if so, how much?

Beyond these questions, it also helps to evaluate your potential officiant’s demeanor and posture. Are they a comfortable and confident public speaker? Could you envision them literally taking center stage as they ask you to profess your vows to each other? Evaluate every potential officiant based on these criteria to find one that truly matches your needs.

4. Understand the Next Steps 

Finally, once you’ve identified the perfect officiant for your wedding, have a conversation about what needs to happen next.

For example, the officiant may require or encourage pre-wedding counseling for you and your significant other, together or separately, or they might want to know the logistics of your wedding so they know exactly how and where they could fit in. Whatever the officiant’s needs are, it’s good to clarify them early to leave you with plenty of room for preparation.

Let Windows on the Water Help to Make Your Wedding Day Perfect

When it comes to the person who will actually marry you, it pays to be strategic in your search. With these steps, you can make sure that the person you choose will be the perfect person to guide you through the ceremony and make your marriage official.

Of course, you don’t have to go through that process on your own. Here at Windows on the Water in New Jersey, we have had plenty of experience with officiants of all types, and we love sharing that experience with our couples to make their big day as special as possible. Contact us by calling (609) 208-9475 or visiting our website to fill out our contact form.