We're excited to have Shari Caruso of Celebrations by Shari as our guest blogger this week! Shari is a non-denominational wedding minister/officiant residing in Avon, Ohio. She is a mobile officiant, meaning that she comes to you and your venue. For this week's blog post, Shari has shared her thoughts on how to go about finding the officiant that best suits you and your fiancé, as well as the top ten reasons that people hire a wedding officiant/celebrant.
There are so many decisions to make when planning a wedding that it is easy to forget one of the most important details of your wedding - your wedding officiant. The officiant is not just a vendor. The officiant is your master of ceremony - the most important aspect of your wedding. It is important to consider your options carefully before deciding who should pronounce you married. The officiant you select to share your special day with you can truly make or break your day. The relationship between the couple and the officiant should be a partnership based on respect. So how do you go about finding the right officiant that best suits you and your fiancé?
1. Before you and your fiancé begin contacting any potential officiants, take time to discuss the type of ceremony you want. Will it be traditional or modern? Religious or secular? How long do you want the ceremony to last? Do you want to include any special reading or ceremonies? Making these decisions together before your search actually begins will make it much easier to know when you've found the right person.
2. Once you've narrowed the list down to officiants that you think will best provide you with the type of services you want, set up a meeting. That could be in person, over the phone, or via video chat. It is important that you actually have a one-on-one conversation with a potential officiant before hiring them. You need to know if you like the sound of their voice and the way they speak. You might even ask if the officiant can provide you with a video sample of a wedding they serviced.
3. Make sure that the state and county you are being married in recognizes your officiant as someone who is authorized to perform the ceremony. You need an officiant that can sign your marriage license. Every state has different procedures for officiants. In New York City, for example, an officiant must be registered with the City Clerk's Office for at least 24 hours before they can sign the license. If you are considering having a family member or friend perform your ceremony, make sure they have experience or you could be very disappointed. Most professional officiants and ministers have performed hundreds of ceremonies. Their polished presentation skills and experience can bring a real sense of calm and order to your day.
4. Read reviews of any officiant you are considering. Many officiants will have professional listings on the wedding directories, such as WeddingWire, MyWedding, and Thumbtack. Take some time to read about the experiences other couples have had because that will give you a very good idea of how they will perform at your ceremony. After viewing their website, blog, Facebook page and/or Twitter account, decide if they seem like the kind of person you and your partner would like or want to be friends with. You should like the person you choose to be your officiant.
5. Get recommendations from other vendors you have booked, plus your wedding planner, friends, and family. Wedding photographers can be very helpful because they go to all types of weddings. Photographers generally know who does a good job when you need recommendations.
6. It is important that you select an officiant that will be flexible with the ceremony. If you have readings, poems, songs, etc. that are important to the two of you, make sure the officiant will allow you to include them. The officiant should allow the couple to have final approval of the wedding script. Not every officiant works that way, but you should be assured that they will not surprise you with anything you don't want. If you choose to have a secular ceremony, you may be upset to have an officiant who surprises you by adding prayers, scripture and/or unwanted preaching. You want an officiant who respects your beliefs and values.
7. Weddings are stressful, so find an officiant that will put things into writing. You want an officiant that will provide you with a contract so you know exactly what to expect. Not every officiant works with a contract, but you should ask for one. A contract will protect all of you.
8. Book an officiant early - 9 months to 1 year in advance. This will better assure you that the officiant you most want is available.
Photo Credit: George Street Photo & Video
Top Ten Reasons to Hire a Wedding Officiant/Celebrant
1. You want to have a non-denominational ceremony
2. You want an interfaith ceremony
3. You want creative alternatives to the traditional cookie cutter ceremony
4. You are holding your ceremony at a venue other than a church - park, beach, backyard, botanical garden, museum, farm, etc.
5. You want a custom written ceremony
6. You want to write your own vows and design your own ceremony
7. You want someone who will consult with you about your ceremony and not just show up the day of the wedding
8. You want your photographer and videographer providers to be able to stand anywhere they like to get the shots you want
9. You want special elements included in your ceremony - unity candles, sand blending, jumping the broom, rose exchange, wine ceremony, etc.
10. You want a heartfelt ceremony that expresses your personal beliefs
A big thank you goes out to Shari for such wonderful insight, and we hope that this information is helpful to any and all brides-to-be!