When planning a wedding, finding an officiant is by far the most crucial task to tick off your to-do list, for without them your wedding ceremony will not be legal. With the importance which this person carries, finding them should be your first action; unfortunately, there are many steps you must take before one of these people will even sit down to talk with you.
This officiant paradox can be easily managed by starting your wedding planning early. Before you book an officiant, any professional worth their salt will want to meet with you, before that you need to have a date firmly set, to do that you need to book your ceremony and reception venues. Depending where you plan to wed, popular venues can book up to a year in advance or longer, during peak season. Officiants work in much the same way. Once you have booked your venues, don’t delay on finding the perfect person to officiate, with the rise in couples who are not associated with any particular religion or church, independent officiants are in demand.
For planning, availability and booking purposes, the officiant will need to know the date you have your wedding booked for, as well as, the times you have every minute detail of your ceremony scheduled for. You need to have specific times arranged for when your guests arrive at the ceremony location, the groom arrives, the bride arrives, the ceremony begins, the bride walks down the isle, and the reception in scheduled to begin. The officiant will then be able to tell you when they would typically plan to arrive and what they will do to prepare themselves, your wedding party, the groom and you and the person who will be giving you away. These plans can then be finalized upon booking.
Before you meet with the officiant for the first time, you should discuss with your parents if they have any thoughts or wishes as to if, how or by whom you will be given away. If you come from a traditional family and your parents are not divorced, this talk and decision will be fairly straightforward, with your father giving you away and your mother looking on lovingly. With untraditional families being the majority these days, several varying options are being seen approaching the altar.
Another stone you should have laid before you meet with your prospective officiant is your wedding party. Know who is in the wedding party and how to spell their names! My fiancé and I had a bit of an embarrassing moment trying to spell the last names of our European melting pot of a wedding party.
During your first meeting with the officiant, you may be asked about your flower, music and picture arrangements. If you have not yet made these arrangements, a good officiant should be happy to give you suggestions or advice. If they do not bring up the topic of your picture plans, you definitely should. When talking with the officiant my fiancé and I have chosen to perform our ceremony, they told us of horror stories they had heard from other couples whose officiant had told them he would not permit them to take pictures of the ceremony – two minutes before the ceremony was to begin.
Not just finding an officiant, but finding the right officiant for you and your fiancé can perfect or ruin your day. If you don’t like the first officiant you meet with it is ok to shop around. This person will be going through an intimate and integral time in your life with you and you want to be completely comfortable and confident in their ability to make it the best day of your life… thus far.