Booking Your Wedding Officiant: Q&A

 
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Happy Wednesday, friends! Today is all dedicated to questions and answers about booking your wedding officiant. I got ahold of my friend, Chris Cooper, who married my husband and I back in 2017, and asked him some FAQ’s about booking an officiant for your wedding. 

Now, if you already are apart of a church and want to get married through that church, chances are they already have a minister or pastor for your wedding. But if you are not apart of a church and don’t know where to start with finding a minister, this SJ’s Bridal Banter post is for you!! 

Chris has been a licensed minister since March, 2012 and is a licensed minister through the Assemblies of God denomination. Today, I asked him some Q&A about being an officiant and questions that would help a couple with their planning process. Take a look: 

Q: What is your favorite part about being an officiant?

A: My favorite part is seeing couples facial expressions when I pronounce that they are husband and wife. It can go lots of different ways. Some couples scream and go crazy. Some couples smile. Some couples looked shocked! Ha! But all in all, it is a fantastic experience. 


Q: What advice would you give to a couple who are looking for an officiant for their wedding?

A: I would say to anybody looking for an officiant is to expect to pay for services. That may seem a little strange as this is a wedding and an officiant plays a vital role in it. However, the amount of times I’ve been asked to conduct weddings for free is incredible. I don’t think people expect to not pay the officiant out of malice or disrespect, I just think it is something they expect you to do for them. However, I ask people if they’d be willing to pay for a DJ or wedding planner and if they say yes, I remind them that I am offering them a service as well. If they do it through my church, we include it in the cost of the venue. If not, I will come to an agreement on cost with the wedding party. I always remind people that you are occupying about 20-30 hours of my time, which includes planning, meetings, rehearsals and the day itself. 


Q: What aspects of planning should a couple do when creating there ceremony with their officiant/ what questions should they ask someone they want to marry them?

A: I would tell a couple to know exactly what they want in an officiant. I am a Christian minister who believes marriage is a commitment before God. I have had numerous couples ask me to marry them and tell me they do not want any scriptures from the bible read or anything about God being said. I would say if that is the case, then get a Justice of the Peace licensed officiant or someone else who is qualified. So when creating a ceremony, I would ask questions such as, “do we want a traditional Christian wedding?”, “Do we want Bible verse and a message in the ceremony?”, or “Do we want to officiant to pray?” These are simple questions that can indicate to me whether you would like my services, or if I would recommend somebody else

Additionally, has the officiant you are using done any public speaking before? Have they just got an online qualification from the State and have never talked in front of a crowd? I’ve seen a couple of weddings where it was very obvious the officiant has never done a wedding before or has a fear of public speaking. That does not end very well! Jim Bob may be your best friend, but it doesn’t mean he is the right person to perform your ceremony! 


Q: How much planning goes into creating the ceremony structure for you? 

A: The amount of time varies per couple and what the couple requests. I spend several hours catering the ceremony to the couple. This is one reason why I like to marry couples I know rather than couples I do not. If I do not know the couple, I want to meet with them a several times before I marry them to get to know them better and see if they are ready for marriage. Overall, with planning the right scriptures, the right message that fits their personalities and wants, I would say about 15-15 hours goes into planning the ceremony (including meeting with the couple).


Q: What things do couples need to think about when creating their ceremony with their officiant? (ie: traditional vows, bible verses, etc)

A: When planning their ceremony, as mentioned above, I always enjoy when a couple knows exactly what they want, or at least have a good idea. It makes the planning very easy. If the couple has absolutely no idea what they want, I usually provide a binder with different wedding ceremony options, vows, bible verse etc. This way they get to choose from a wide variety of options. If the couple knows what they, I will perform the ceremony they request, within the framework of it being a Christian wedding. 


Q: Have you ever worked with a couple who didn’t communicate well and didn’t plan anything? How did that go? 

A: Yes! These are the things nightmares are made of! I performed a ceremony about three years ago where the bride and groom forgot the time of the wedding. The ceremony was scheduled at 11am and they strolled in the church around 1pm like it was no big deal! People were frantically trying to reach them via cell phone, but like any other wedding day, they were not responding because they were busy getting ready. 

Additionally, the same wedding, they wrote their own vows that they did not want anyone to see beforehand. I made a rule after this wedding that I would see all personal vows before the ceremony to see if they are appropriate. The reason is because these vows were very strange and inappropriate. The family felt disrespected after they read them. The vows had some over the top descriptions about intimacy that was certainly not appropriate for a gathering of close friends and family! 


Q: Should the couple have anything for the officiant to wear or have during the ceremony?

A: I do not necessarily need a suit or clothing provided by the couple. I have a couple of suits I wear for weddings. I communicate with the couple that I have a navy blue suit and a black suit and they can decide which they want me to wear. However, if the couple would like me to wear, for example, Converse sneakers, a pink waistcoat and cowboy hat, I would expect the couple to provide these items at no cost to me. 


Q: How far in advance should couples book an officiant?

A: I would advise people to book their officiant at a minimum of 6-9 months before the wedding date. It does seem like a long time, but it gives me as the officiant time to start preparing meetings with the couple, writing the ceremony and making sure everything is in place for a successful day. This also allows the couple time to make other plans if, say, 3 months before the wedding, the officiant pulls out or the couple decides to go a different direction, they at least have some time to get another officiant. Additionally, I would like to meet with the couple a severals times beforehand to do some pre-marital counseling, and that could be a minimum of 5 times over 5 months, depending on how far in advance the wedding is. There isn’t really a hard and fast rule about timeframe. However I would suggest 6-9 months and not a last minute thought such as 1 month before the ceremony. 


Q: What is the price range for an officiant?

A: I would say anywhere between $150-300 is reasonable. Remember, you’re getting an average of about 15 hours of work. So that would work out to $10-20 per hour. My typical charge is $250.

Q: What is one thing you wish couples would do to help even further with their officiant booking process? 

A: I would encourage couples to set their officiant and ceremony expectations upfront. This is something I try and do with couples. For example, I tell them I am a Christian minister and refer to the Bible in my ceremony. If they do not like this, I will encourage them to find another officiant. That is an expectation I have from the start. So I believe if I am setting expectations, the couple need to be forthright with their expectations of the officiant.


And there you have it, folks! Such great information from an officiant that I hope it helps you guys with the wedding planning process. If you guys have any questions for Chris and want to know more about officiant things, feel free to email me at worksbysarahjane@gmail.com and I’ll make sure he gets them.

Thanks for tuning in this week to SJ’s Bridal Banter! Have a great week, friends!

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{Amazing photos captured by Kami Olavarria}

 
Sarah Jane BrownComment