We asked Rev. Perry Hardison if he'd share his vast experience on how to choose the right officiant for your wedding needs. Here's his advise!...
Venue? Check. Caterer? Got it. Photographer? All set. DJ/band? Check.
You have THE all-star professional team in line for your Big Day, but who will make sure the wedding is in fact…a wedding?
It’s easy to overlook the one professional that makes a wedding a wedding: your officiant. Before deciding on who that might be, it’s good to look at what the role of the officiant actually is, and does.
COACHING/COUNSELING: Premarital counseling is premarital coaching. Your officiant will work on skill development (like communication) and emotional stability. Studies indicate couples who go through such a process have a higher success rate that those who don’t. If using a professional officiant, it may or may not be available as an additional service, but consider this option.
LEGALITY: Within the romance, celebration, and excitement of a wedding, couples can overlook the fact that a legal transaction is occurring. Being married guarantees certain spousal rights and protections to both partners. For those rights and protections to be in place, it must be a legal marriage as defined by the State. This is why you need a marriage license, and why it must be filed according to state law. Your officiant makes sure the legalities are followed and the license executed as an agent of the state. An experienced officiant can coach you through the process and make sure the legal side of your marriage is in order. Not the most sentimental part of your big day, but it is one aspect that will have long-term impact past your wedding day itself.
OFFICIATING: The officiant is the leader of the wedding ceremony. They should compose the actual ceremony script and be willing to personalize it so that it’s true to your love story. They signal the guests when to stand. They should know how to handle the rings. They should handle all the nuances of the ceremony. There are many things that guests don’t notice—until it is not done correctly or appears sloppily executed. An experienced officiant will work with your planner and DJ/musician on cues and transitions for the ceremony. They can be a voice of calm and put you at ease as you stand there nervous in front of your guests. If you are using a videographer, they may use the recording of the officiant’s words as part of the voice-over on your video. Make sure you like that voice!
You devote a lot of time and attention to detail to make sure every aspect of your celebration is perfect. You have a right to expect the cornerstone of the event—the ceremony—to be perfect as well. An experienced officiant can make that a reality. Do not make the mistake of treating the selection of your officiant as an afterthought. The officiant really should be one of the first of your vendors scheduled.