Are you ready for 10 Tips To Choose Your Wedding Officiant + Create Your Wedding Ceremony? I’ve been proudly officiating weddings for 7 years in Savannah, St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island—- and a few points in between! It is one of my very favorite things and I’m passionate about delivering the best experience to couples who bless me with the honor of officiating their special day. I’m equally passionate that all couples know how to choose a wedding officiant that will best serve them, their families, and make beautiful memories of their wedding day. Hint: It’s not always your Uncle Joe or your best friend from college. Really.
Your wedding officiant should be experienced, offer a calming presence,
have willingness to customize a ceremony to the two of you,
and happily incorporate any special traditions you may want to include.
Read on for 10 Tips To Choose Your Wedding Officiant + Create Your Wedding Ceremony, and let me know if you’d like to explore having me pronounce you as married, it would be my honor to talk about that in depth.
- Have a general idea of what you want your ceremony to look like. This requires the two of you to open up a conversation that will guide your decisions.
- How long do you want your ceremony to be?
- Would you like it to be religious or non-religious?
- Who should preside/officiate over your ceremony? Are you firm on someone you know vs someone you build a new relationship with?
Those topics are ‘openers’ and will guide the rest of your decisions. Remember the important thing to remember is that this is YOUR CEREMONY and it should reflect the two of you. Don’t settle for a ‘canned’ wedding ceremony!
2. The length of your ceremony will be based on what you choose to include.
- Are you using speak and repeat traditional vows or are you choosing to write and read your own heartfelt words?
- Will you include other people in your ceremony to read, sing or offer some form of participation?
- Would you like to include cultural traditions?
3. Write out a very general plan of things and people you would like to include.
- From the things you have sketched out know that nothing needs to be in stone as final and keep an open mind if you can. The two of you might have different expectations or ideas and you’ll be well served if you discuss all of those things before coming up with a loose ceremony scenario.
- Of course, if you’re eloping you will likely have a much smaller group of friends and family along as witnesses, or it might be just the two of you. Knowing your guest list will help inform your plan.
4. Who is your officiant? While having a family member or long time friend might be romantic and perhaps meaningful, think hard about this choice.
- You don’t want your officiant to go off script, take the focus away from you or be super nervous.
- It’s likely that you want your family and friends to be able to relax and enjoy your wedding as cherished guests, not as active participants.
- Your officiant should be experienced and open to hearing who the two of you are and what you want.
- Don’t be afraid to say “NO” to anyone that wants to participate in your ceremony that you do not want to include. Find them another task to do that will make them feel included but still allow your plans to remain in place.
5. Build Your Ceremony + Contact Officiants!
It’s not scary, I promise!
- Long or short
- Which vow style will you use
- Religious or Non
- Participation by Others
- Ask your venue if they have a list of suggestions.
- An online search might also be used.
- If you will not be meeting in person for the first time, consider a phone call or Zoom chat. Especially in destination wedding markets you might only meet your officiant right before your ceremony.
- Your officiant should not make you feel rushed in your planning and should hear your ideas and offer their own when asked.
- Officiants should be that balance between Santa and your Fairy Godmother/father! Calm, pleasant, willing to please, knows how to make things happen and yet can offer a firm hand if needed!
When you think of your ceremony as the first step in your lives together it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it shouldn’t be. Your officiant should immediately set you at ease when you first contact them and you should be able to come up with your ceremony plan fairly quickly—- yet keep that plan open should you have thoughts later.
6. Write your own vows?
This can be the biggest sticking point and your officiant should be able to offer some advice as they have taken a bit of time to get to know the two of you.
- Most couples know fairly immediately if they are YES-write, or NO-write people!
- Writing your own vows is personal and is a reflection of YOU. There is no need to feel bound to a certain length.
- No you don’t have to write your vows together and you are not even bound to share them with your partner ahead of the big day!
7. Hear and repeat
- Officiants can tailor those Say & Repeat vows to you as well if you’re in the NO crowd.
- There are many variances and opportunities to customize what your officiant says and what you will then repeat back.
- Hopefully the officiant you have chosen will quickly offer a suggestion and email it over so you have a bit of time to read the vows out loud and think about what you want to say.
8. Include personal traditions
There are SO MANY traditions to include in your ceremony and we’ll save a full discussion for another post.
- a sand ceremony for a beach wedding
- Handfasting ceremony
- Candle lighting
- Jumping the broom
9. Your Officiant Should:
- Be available by email or text
- Answer your questions in a timely fashion
- Guide your wishes and be able to tell you if something is not a great idea and why
- Offer solutions to problems
- Be a good wedding day team player with your photographer, wedding planner, etc.
- Offer a final written ceremony for your approval once you’ve worked things through
10. Close the ceremony
How do you want your officiant to close the ceremony for you?
- Announcing you as a couple (inform him/her of how you want to be addressed)
- Ask the guests to stand as you exit
- Inform the guests of bubble blowing, seed tossing, applause, etc.
Choosing your officiant should be FUN!
- You should have an immediate connection with her/him
- Plan together to create the wedding ceremony that makes the two of you happy.
- Your officiant should be flexible, cheerful, and honestly desire your ceremony to be uniquely yours!
If you, a friend or family member is planning your wedding, wherever it might be—and are looking for a wedding officiant, a wedding photographer or BOTH, we’d LOVE to hear your story, chat about your I Do’s and be part of your Wedding Day Team. We consider it an honor to serve All COUPLES everywhere!
Please give us a call or pop us an email!
10 Tips To Choose Your Wedding Officiant + Create Your Wedding Ceremony