33 Questions to ask your wedding officiant – Part 1
Hiring someone to officiate your wedding ceremony can be a daunting process and there are lots of questions you might not think to ask. Here’s just about every question I’ve ever been asked by prospective couples. Hopefully they get you thinking. I’ve listed them in no particular order of importance.
1. Do you have a backup, in case you get sick or can’t make it? I’ve only called in sick seven times in nine years and those are pretty good odds. I’ve gotten the flu and one time was in a car accident. My strategy is to find an officiant to replace me before I even tell the couple that I can’t make it. That way they don’t have to stress about finding someone else. Having officiants who work for me, who I’ve trained, I’d go to first. If they were unavailable, I’d then contact the other officiants I know and hopefully find the couple a replacement. It’s never fun to feel a bride’s smile turn to a frown over the phone, but life happens and sometimes the surprises that married life have in store for us show up on day 1!
2. How much should I expect to pay? Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. It’s not hard to find someone who officiates weddings in their spare time for a couple hundred bucks, but if your ceremony is important to you, I’d steer clear and hire a professional. As far as I know, I’m the only officiant in town who completely personalizes each ceremony so it tells that couple’s story. I invest 8 to 10 hours of preparation and work into each ceremony so my fee is a little higher than the other officiants in town. My fee is between $595-$695, depending on the month.
3. What suggestions do I have for wedding planning and for hiring other vendors? The best way to answer this question is by sharing this blog post.
4. Do you prefer a handheld or lapel microphone? Lapel microphones are notoriously unreliable, so I hold a handheld microphone, without using a stand. Microphone stands ruin photos.
5. Do you provide a microphone? I do not. The microphone is provided by your venue, DJ or band.
6. What items don’t you provide? I don’t provide the marriage license, rings, any imagery pieces like a sand or unity candle set, or a microphone. I do provide an audio recording of your ceremony!
7. Do you coordinate rehearsals? Absolutely! Most officiants charge extra for this service. My fee to coordinate a rehearsal is $95. However, I help with very few rehearsals. Venues have coordinators who will walk you through a rehearsal and if you hired a wedding planner, then you’ve got help. Back in the day, when there weren’t wedding venues all over town, it was customary for the minister to coordinate the wedding rehearsal, but times have changed. That is generally handled by the venue.
8. What rules or restrictions do you have? Are you okay with flash photography, wearing a microphone for our videographer, being filmed, etc? I’m totally cool with wearing a microphone and working closely with the other pros you’ve hired, so your wedding turns out great. I only have two rules: the photographers must keep at least a 10 foot distance during your vows, and our time is not done until the marriage license has been signed. I do not allow photographers to steal couples away for photos until the license is signed. The setting sun and light for photos is second priority to signing the license.
9. Do you require premarital counseling? I only require it for couples who are 21 or younger.
10. Do you give a sermon or prayer? Only if you want me to. 80% of the ceremony readings I offer to couples are nonreligious.
11. Can we review our ceremony before our wedding? Absolutely! Few couples do. Most want to wait and be surprised.
13. Can we personalize our ceremony? Absolutely! That is my specialty and if you click on the links in the previous question to hear audio samples, you’ll know exactly what I mean!
14. How long are your ceremonies? Most are around 25 minutes.
15. How many times do we meet? I’m happy to meet more than once, but usually only one meeting is necessary. Technology makes it easy to stay connected.
33 Questions to ask your wedding officiant – Part 1
16. Will you file our marriage license for us? Absolutely! Not every officiant wants the responsibility, so this is an extra I’m happy to include.
17. Have you ever turned anyone down? Yes, two couples. In both cases the bride-to-be was insanely rude to her fiance during our meeting and I didn’t think that anyone could take that kind of abuse for life, so I told them that we weren’t a good fit. I later found out that one of those couples broke up and he left the country!
18.What advice do you have for us that we might not have thought of? Look for someone you’re comfortable with, who seems genuinely interested in you. Hire your officiant BEFORE you spend time shopping for most other wedding vendors. There are 2000 photographers in town and fewer than 10 great officiants. Couples who hire me understand that if it wasn’t for their ceremony, they wouldn’t need to hire anyone else!
Want to find out how most wedding blogs are LYING TO YOU? READ THIS ARTICLE.
19. What do you look for in a couple and is it in us? I want to see that you’re best friends and love each other’s company. You’re going to be in the same house for 50 years or more, so I hope you like being around each other! I want to see that you’re excited for your wedding and expect it to be your best memory yet. I want to hear that disagreements have been worked out constructively and that they’ve only served to strengthen your relationship. I want to hear that you intend to grow individually and promise to be flexible for the good of your relationship, and promise to talk it out, but not beat subjects to death. I want you to tell me that you’ve got unshakable faith in your relationship and that your partner is the coolest guy/girl you’ve met and that you’re so thrilled to have found me, because you know that I’m just the perfect guy to officiate your ceremony!
20. What are your main responsibilities as an officiant? Hmmm. Well, to be legally able to officiate your wedding, to show up on time, to officiate your wedding, to sign and perhaps file your marriage license. Those are the minimum requirements, but the goal is to exceed your expectations. 1st Officiant provides the minister who makes it legal, while making you feel amazing about your relationship and setting a positively great vibe for the celebration afterward!
21. What are your biggest challenges officiating weddings? By far my biggest challenge is couples who can’t meet the deadlines I give them. Personalized ceremonies require a team effort. I need time to write, so I need couples to email me the things I ask for by the dates given. Most couples care a lot about their wedding, so it doesn’t happen often enough to complain about, but it just happened with two couples so it’s on my mind.
22. Would you allow another officiant or religious official to co-officiate a ceremony? Of course! Its not only your special day. Each ceremony is rewarding for the officiant too. If I can expand my own experience by working with another to make your day memorable, I’m all about it!
23. What are your credentials? Long-term health issues led me to a deep understanding of how we inhabit our bodies. I know that I am not my thoughts, that I am aware of my thoughts. I know that I am not my body, that I use it to get around and perceive the world through its senses. I know that I am not my emotions, that I am the being who experiences the emotions that flow through me based on my thoughts, so I began to ask ever-deeper questions and have really had some unbelievable experiences that led me to be someone of deep faith.
I’ve spent time in prayer and meditation around three times a day since 2005. I attended the University of Metaphysical Sciences and was ordained through their church after receiving a Master’s Degree in Metaphysical Sciences.
I’m successfully married since 2004 to the coolest girl I’ve ever met and the one who balances me out like no other. We made two beautiful little girls, who are my best teachers. They remind me of how far I’ve come emotionally and how much work I’ve still got to do. Oh, and I’ve been blessed to marry-off hundreds of couples and offer premarital counseling. Those are my credentials.
24. Are there venues you refuse to go to or other professionals you refuse to work with? Refuse is a tough word. It’s like saying never and I’ve learned never to say never. Being a hypocrite is the worst! There is one venue in town that I avoid, if possible. There are several vendors I’m not a huge fan of, but overall, the wedding industry is full of really friendly people.
25. Can we have guest readers or guest participation? Absolutely! Weddings are more fun when guests get involved and I bet there are lots of ways to get them involved that you’re not aware of.
26. Do you support same-sex marriage and officiate gay weddings? Of course. I’m not a caveman.
27. Can you help us with legally changing our name afterward? Yep, I email a link out to every couple ten days or so after their ceremony, so that name change can be done from the comfort of your internet connection. You don’t have to go down to the social security office any more!
28. How quickly do you respond to emails and phone calls? I try to be Johnny-on-the-spot, so I usually respond within an hour. Bear in mind that wedding vendors are busiest on weekends and usually take Mondays off.
29. Do you have reviews or testimonials we can read? You know it, sister! My reviews are all over the internet or you can check out my testimonials page.
This is Part 1 of 33 questions to ask your officiant. The final four questions to ask your wedding officiant are a bit more obscure. Want to know what they are? Click here!
Matt Nathanson-33 Questions to ask your wedding officiant-Part 1-top of the page
If you’re going to officiate a wedding yourself and need guidance, check out Matt’s Wedding Ceremonies.