Wedding Officiant – How to Choose

From Wikipedia:   Marriage officiant is a civil officer who performs acts of marriage, civil union or commitment. Their main responsibility is to receive and witness the consent of the intended spouses and to ensure the legal formalities, and hence the validity of the marriage or civil union, are observed.

Depending on jurisdiction, the persons legally permitted to officiate vary and may include ministers, notaries, judges, justices of the peace, lawyers, magistrates, mayors or county clerks.  Finding someone legally permitted to perform the marriage ceremony may be simple, however, finding just the right person with whom you connect and feel comfortable – sometimes, not so simple…

A professional officiant will gladly go over all details with you.  A true professional will want you to have complete information so your final choice will be an informed one and the best one for you.

I believe the most important aspect of a couple and an officiant working well together is comfort  – does the officiant make you comfortable?  Does the officiant seem genuinely interested in you as a couple? Be sure you like and respect your officiant — and that the feeling is mutual.

There are a variety of “Questions to Ask Your Officiant” on most of the on-line wedding planning sites.  I have answered several examples of those questions honestly to give you an idea of my personal feelings and what I like to provide as an officiant.

  • Does the officiant have sample wording/ceremonies/readings to show you?

I continually collect and draft ceremony selections, readings, poems, song excerpts, etc.  Research is one of my enjoyments and I strive to find ideas and examples of things we can use to make your ceremony special.

  • How much are we allowed to customize the ceremony?  Can we write our own vows?

Absolutely, I encourage and enjoy working with couples who are interested and excited to participate in planning and customizing their ceremony.

  • If we are of different faiths, or one of us is not religious, is that a problem?

My feelings about marriage may differ from some officiants, but I do not judge what any couple believes.  I am truly delighted when a couple desires to take this important step and make the commitment.  My focus is accepting and spiritual rather than religious.

  • Will our family or friends be allowed to participate in the ceremony, including giving readings, singing, etc.?

I don’t  “allow” or “disallow” anything.  I work with you to arrange a ceremony comfortable and meaningful to you.  I welcome participation by family and friends and love the feeling of community.  I am, however, very honest and may suggest ideas based on my experience.

  • Can the officiant travel to your chosen wedding site?

Weddings within 60 miles of the Jacksonville area beaches are included in my fee.  I am happy to travel further with a small mileage fee.

  • If you don’t have a venue, can the officiant suggest one or provide a courthouse or meeting room?

I am always on the lookout for options with regard to venues and 30 years as a paralegal have given me the research skills to assist in finding alternatives for you.

  • Is the officiant available for a ceremony rehearsal?

My fee includes attendance at the rehearsal and many local venues encourage or require an officiant to be present at the rehearsal.  If I have a previously booked wedding that conflicts with your rehearsal, I will make every effort to make other arrangements to provide for adequate preparation before your actual ceremony.

  • How long has the officiant been performing weddings?  Why does he/she do them?

I have been a Florida Notary Public for over 30 years and have been performing weddings full-time for about 2 years.  I do them because it gives me pleasure to be involved with happy, excited people who want to be together and embark on one of life’s most beautiful journeys.

  • How much do you charge?
$250 is the fee for my most requested service and includes planning meeting, ceremony suggestions, customization, email and phone support prior to ceremony, attendance at rehearsal, officiating at ceremony, filing your marriage license with the Clerk of Court. 


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One Comment

  • Yok says:

    I have to wholeheartedly agree. Our ceremony was the most important part of our wedding day. So much so, that after it was done we felt so special that we were ready to go on honeymoon! (We leave just then, we stayed and visited with family and friends, and partied for a while with everyone.) We feel blessed that we had an amazing minister of our wedding ceremony; someone who understood us, understood modern young couples and understood everything that we were facing from that point onwards. I treasure his words to us, and our guests, from our day.

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