ONTARIO > Hamilton > Bride-Savvy - Hiring Your Experts
Choosing an officiant for your wedding ceremony
This expert tip is from Rev. Mandi Neiser, an ordained, non-denominational minister and owner of Married by Mandi in Hamilton. She provides personalized wedding ceremonies and her experience is reviewed in TheWeddingRing.ca.
The date is booked, the hall is rented, the D.J. is hired and the dress has been chosen. You think you’ve covered everything, until you realize one small detail – “Who’s going to marry us?” Of course, if you plan to marry in a church, your Minister, Pastor or Priest will have the honour of presiding over your vows, but if you don’t belong to a church, or simply prefer a more non-traditional or more spiritual ceremony, you will need to find someone to perform the ceremony at the location you have chosen. So now the daunting task of finding an Officiant begins. But it certainly doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task, especially if you are prepared, and know what you’re looking for.
Begin with the end in mind
First of all, you need to decide what type of ceremony is most important and suitable to you and your fiancé. Are you looking for a religious ceremony, a secular ceremony or something in the middle – a more spiritual ceremony that incorporates the traditions of your individual families? There are many instances where a couple with completely different faiths come together, and it is so important to incorporate the blessings, prayers, rituals, customs and traditions that are most important to you and the families involved.
Choosing a flexible Officiant
Of course, all of this is only possible if your Officiant is flexible, creative, and willing to work with you to create a ceremony that is special and unique to the two of you. As the couple getting married, you have the right to make decisions based on what you believe and how you feel you would like your ceremony to flow. You need someone who will guide you through the maze of options and decisions, helping you and your fiancé along the way to make choices that are most suitable for the type of ceremony you desire. Below is a guideline you could use to get to know the Officiant when you are inquiring about their services…
• Are you willing to travel?
• Will you perform an outdoor ceremony?
• Will you allow us to work with you to come up with a ceremony that pleases us both?
• Do we have unlimited email and phone access to you for questions and concerns along the way?
• Do we have to attend pre-marital classes before you will marry us?
• What is included in your fee?
• What is your fee?
• How long is the ceremony?
• How do we proceed in order to confirm a booking?
The ceremony rehearsal
First, you need to make sure a rehearsal is included in the fee. If not, how much extra is this service? Don’t be surprised if it is, in fact extra, after all, guiding you through your rehearsal is like officiating the ceremony twice. You need to find out if your Officiant is willing and available to run your rehearsal; again, don’t assume that it’s part of the package. If not, you need to decide if not having a rehearsal is within your comfort zone. If you don’t feel comfortable, you need to ask him/her if they would be willing to help you plan the rehearsal so you can carry it out on your own. If you are planning a rehearsal, you need to check with your Officiant first before booking a date and time. Remember, in many cases, you’re not the only couple getting married in one weekend, and it can be very tricky planning three rehearsals on the same night. My rule of thumb regarding the need for a wedding rehearsal is as follows…
• If you have more than 6 people in the wedding party (not including the bride and groom).
• If you have children in the wedding party.
• If members of your wedding party have never been involved in, or to, a wedding.
• If you have chosen different options for the ceremony, like the candle lighting ceremony or sand ceremony.
• If you are becoming a blended family and want all members of the family involved in some way.
• If the set-up of the location is unusual or complicated.
One last thing to consider
Is your Officiant fun and easy to work with? It works out better for everyone to have a little fun during a time that can be quite stressful. You may not know your Officiant before the wedding, but by the time you walk down that aisle with your new husband or wife, you should feel like you have known one another for a long time. Through your meetings, phone calls and emails, you will have developed a relationship that feels comfortable; knowing that the person who will marry you actually cares about you.