Finding the officiant can be a difficult task when it comes to wedding planning. How do you know if they're the right fit for you? What do you need to ask them? How does this all work? We're covering all of this & more for you with our guide to wedding officiants.
What is a wedding officiant?
Simply put, a wedding officiant is someone who officiates a wedding ceremony. They'll often run through the proceedings and explain to the guests what is happening, walk you through vows and exchanging the rings, and make the marriage official.
The wedding officiant will be legally recognized to carry out the wedding in whichever state you'll be wed. If you're having a religious ceremony, they'll need to be qualified in the eyes of the religious organization too.
There are 4 types of wedding officiants; you'll choose one of these for your wedding depending on the wants & needs of your partner and yourself.
The 4 Types of Wedding Officiants
A civil wedding officiant has the legal ability to perform a marriage ceremony but does so in a more governmental role. This would refer to officiants like a justice of the peace, a magistrate, or a courthouse clerk that oversees weddings in places like the Brisbane Registry.
Civil officiants are often the go-to for couples who want to get the legalities & technicalities out of the way and focus on a party, prefer something more straightforward, or have already had a cultural wedding ceremony but still need to legally tie the knot.
Professional officiants are more commonly known as celebrants and are qualified professionals hired to perform marriage ceremonies. Professional officiants carry out ceremonies, from religious or spiritual traditions to just general wedding ceremonies where religion or faith doesn't play a role.
Celebrants are the perfect option for couples that want more flexibility in customizing their wedding ceremony.
Religious officiants typically operate out of their place of worship, carrying out wedding ceremonies for people of the same faith. A religious officiant maybe someone like an imam, pastor, minister, or reverend.
While religious officiants carry out ceremonies more commonly at their place of worship, it is worth noting that they'll also do them at other locations for couples when needed, such as a beach wedding or something similar.
An ordained officiant is not an experienced celebrant/officiant but has completed the ceremony requirements. This is often a friend or family member who has been qualified to handle your ceremony at your request.
Frequently asked questions:
How do I find a wedding officiant?
Suppose you're part of a church, religion, mosque, or similar. In that case, I'd advise asking people within your faith/spirituality first - they'll be able to provide you with the most relevant information regarding a religious-based wedding.
Using Google search is another good option - this way, you can check out an officiant's Google Reviews & see what other couples have said about them.
Instagram is another great place to check too. Tip: Check out wedding brands that make gowns near you, look at their 'Tagged' section on Instagram, and you'll often see real brides and their wedding vendors tagged in images (or even on the brand's page); this will give you a good start to see what type of vendors are in the same city as you. For example, if you look at the tagged section on the Euphorie Instagram, you'll see images from weddings where different celebrants and officiants have been tagged. Still, you can apply this to any brand that offers gowns locally to where your wedding will take place.
How do I know what type of officiant I will need?
We previously mentioned how there are 4 types of celebrants; civil, ordained, religious, and professional. Once you've decided the style of wedding you'll have, it'll help guide you towards the celebrant you'll choose.
For example, if you are having a wedding inside the church of your chosen faith/religion, you'll want a religious officiant from your faith.
If you're planning a beach wedding, a hotel rooftop wedding, a garden wedding, or any other style, your values, wants, and needs will be what matter most here. Ask yourself whether you want a loved one to get ordained and carry out the ceremony? Or do you just want a professional who will take care of everything and get it over with so you can have a party with family? In that case, getting married at the Brisbane Registry of Marriages might be the way to go for you and your partner. If you'd prefer someone you can vibe with, get along well with, and build a connection with, you'll want to interview a few celebrants/professional officiants to see how well you gel with them (more on the interviewing process soon!)
Questions to ask when interviewing officiants:
Availability + Legality: The first question you'll want to ask a potential officiant is if they're both available on your wedding day and legally able to perform the marriage ceremony for you.
Some celebrants are booked out so far in advance that you want to get in early!
Cultural or Religious Values: If you have specific cultural or religious aspects that you plan to incorporate into your wedding day, be sure to discuss that with your potential officiant in advance to achieve the perfect wedding day you're after.
You might choose a secular celebrant but want to incorporate specific traditions; if so, be sure to discuss that in advance, so there's no awkwardness if it's something they don't do!
Input: It's essential to know how much input the officiant will have on the ceremony. You'll want to ask further questions such as:
- will you help us write our vows?
- How much info do you need from us to factor into planning?
- How long will the ceremony go for?
- Are you a confident public speaker?
- Will you attend our rehearsal?
- What do you wear to our ceremony?
- What time will you be at our ceremony?
Finding out the answers to questions like these will be an excellent way to find out how hands-on the officiant will be, which will let you know what to expect from your ceremony.
Obligations: Ask your celebrant what responsibilities will be expected of you to plan that out with your schedule and other wedding-related activities in the lead up to your wedding day.
Ask the officiant how many times they'll need to meet with you; this is a great way to plan ahead with it in mind.
Script vs. Personalisation: Ask your proposed celebrant if they will be running off a script or if they tailor each ceremony by personalizing it to the couple at hand. Some couples may just want to get the legalities out of the way, so they won't care if it's a brief scripted ceremony, while other couples may want something made just for them, so it's a more unique ceremony; ask in advance just so you know how things will go.
Marriage License: We mentioned the legalities before, but it's important to stress this and be specific; ask the officiant if and when they will fill out your marriage license as this is something you will need to have them take care of!
Work History: Ensure you've got the right officiant for the job by asking how many weddings they've done and how long they've been an officiant. Knowing their history will be a confidence boost moving forward into the planning stages. Some officiants may even provide references if you ask.
The Contract: It's essential to get everything in writing, just in case. Ask your prospective officiant for a contract, and make sure you read through what that contract contains.
Other questions to ask about the contract:
- What are your fees? Knowing pricing is essential.
- Do you have a backup? What will happen if the officiant is sick or unable to make it on the day?
- What's in your contract?