The Officiant

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Find a style and delivery that fits

As your wedding ceremony draws to a close, the person saying the words "I now pronounce you…" helps set the tone for the remainder of the day. This is someone you and your spouse will remember for the rest of your lives, for better or for worse. Make it for the better by following these tips to booking an officiant you will remember fondly years later.

First consider the type of ceremony you will have. If the ceremony will be church-based, chances are you may already know the religious leaders who perform the wedding ceremonies. If you have someone in mind, make sure you speak to them early to find out their availability. If they're popular, chances are you're not the only ones hoping they'll officiate your wedding.

If you're planning on a non-denominational or multi-faith ceremony, there are plenty of options to choose from. Wedding event company Columbus Bride & Groom offers a binder of officiants to their clients, where they can search a wide range of choices in the area. Officiants will have certain specialties listed, such as spiritual, different faiths, blending of families or same sex.

Once you know the type of ceremony you're having, Jamie Rapavy, owner of Columbus Bride & Groom, suggests narrowing down what you want from your officiant. Are you looking for someone with a connection to the area, or someone who can command the room? Now is the time to decide by interviewing multiple candidates to see how they fit with you as a couple.

"Personality is important; couples should interview the officiant in person," says Rapavy. "You want them to be able to pronounce your name correctly. They should show up on time. And try to get references."

Rapavy says references can be a great resource, so don't be afraid to ask for them. Who better to speak to the officiant's performance than someone who has utilized the services before?

Pay particular attention to an officiant's attitude and the way they conduct themselves during the initial meeting. Since they'll be speaking publicly in front of your guests, the officiant's performance will shape people's impressions of the day. So shop them the way any other vendor is selected.

Be sure to discuss the specifics of what their officiating will entail. Would you like them to participate in the reception as well? Are you asking them for something unique? Do they provide their own sound system, or charge extra to provide one? Now's the time to ask. Also, don't forget to talk about running a rehearsal the day before the wedding, and whether that costs extra or is included in their price. "I think it's very important that a rehearsal happens and they discuss with their officiant that their price includes the day prior to run a rehearsal," Rapavy said.

Check to see if they've ever done a similar ceremony or been to the particular location before. Different venues present different scenarios, and the setup of a new place could present problems if they aren't familiar with their surroundings. If they haven't seen the location, set up a visit prior to the ceremony.

Those looking to go a more casual route have the popular option of enlisting a friend or family member to perform the ceremony and get ordained online. Couples should consider hiring a wedding planner to help this person, though, especially if they've never done anything like this before, Rapavy says. Having a special friend or family member conduct the ceremony can make it much more personal. On the other hand, there are potential drawbacks.

Rapavy says she's seen friends and family members at a loss for how to direct the ceremony, and small things, like cues for the wedding party, get fumbled. The last thing you want is an awkward moment during the ceremony, nor do you want to put your friend or family member in an uncomfortable situation. That's where the wedding planner can help them during rehearsal.