Wedding Planning

Choosing an officiant for your ceremony

At last Saturday’s wedding, my couple selected a very close friend as their officiant. It was a non-religious celebration that took place in a villa with breathtaking ocean views where about 70 guests witnessed the ceremony (stay tuned for the pictures!).

I was very impressed by my couple’s friend who impeccably performed the ceremony by adding personal touches, stories and creating very emotional moments for both the couple and their families. However, this didn’t happen very often in my wedding planning career; whenever a couple selected a friend as their officiant, the ceremony was very short (five or ten minutes) and it was about impersonal, generic and sometimes boring stuff.

Bride and groom may think a friend or a family member can add a personal touch to their big day but it can also be a bad idea.

Why? Let’s analyze pros and cons.

PROS

  • A friend will share stories about the two of you that make the ceremony unique (like my couple’s friend last weekend: he was the one who introduced them to each other a few years ago). Just go over the entire ceremony with him or her and approve everything that he or she will say beforehand (you don’t want unpleasant surprises on the wedding day!)
  • You can save money: your friend may want to officiate for free as a wedding gift to you

CONS

  • You will have to create a ceremony from scratch (don’t expect to find inspiration on the Internet or in books), a very time-consuming task. We’re not just talking about your vows but the entire ceremony!
  • You will have to make sure that your friend is comfortable in front of your guests and he or she has public speaking skills. Be prepared to see your friend getting emotional and lose control since he or she is very close to you and this will be a very special moment for him or her, too
  • You will have to make sure that your friend has the right documentation to legally perform the ceremony (you will need to check with your local County Clerk and Recorder)
  • Having an inexperienced officiant in charge of your ceremony could lead to more stress on such a special day. Do you really want this to happen?

My advice is: Hire a professional officiant and you will have a perfect and memorable event! He or she will meet with you and get to know you enough to create a unique ceremony that celebrates your union by incorporating traditions that will make it very personal. Besides the legal part (how to handle your marriage license), he or she knows how to create a ceremony that includes the couple’s story, values and cultures, knows how to perform a ceremony in front of any crowd and knows how to deal with emergencies that can arise at the wedding.

A good starting point is the Association of Bridal Consultants (www.BridalAssn.com or www.SanDiegoABC.com if your wedding is taking place in San Diego County) to find the professional of your choice, or let’s meet for a complimentary “get-together” to discuss your ceremony needs. I will then refer you to the most appropriate professional for a memorable celebration!

(Photo credit: Eyerisworks)

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