Find someone who is as passionate and excited as you are for your day.
As an officiant that first thing I always like to discuss with potential couples before anything else is their love story. How did they meet? What challenges have they faced together? What is their vision for their ceremony? How do they want to remember it? By the end of my consultations I want my couples to feel confident in me, that we feel like we’ve just became friends. You want to find someone who you feel comfortable with. Someone who you know you won’t have to worry about on your wedding day.
Look for someone in your own faith/spiritual community or has similar values as your own.
Decide what your values are as a couple and what type of couple are you. Are you traditional? Interfaith, multicultural? If you choose a traditional clergy individual, keep in mind there may be parameters, and possible less flexibility in the type of ceremony you can get. Always ask if there are limitations, or possible accommodations, especially when it comes to same sex marriage and interfaith/multicultrual marriage.
Be clear on what your vision for your ceremony is?
One of my questions during my consultations is always what is your vision for your ceremony? How do you want it to be? As this is a very important day in your relationship and lives, as the couple you should have input into the rituals, language, and readings. Keep in mind not every officiant works this way. However, as the couple the last thing you want on your ceremony is a boring, cookie cutter, or possibly offensive speech. Always ask for at least a summary or outline of what will be mentioned and happen.
Ask for the type of ceremony language you want.
I had a couple who did not like the idea of being calledpartners for life. Because they were a same sex couple the brides specifically requested being called wife and wife. Are you a multicultural couple and need a bilingual ceremony? The language used sets the tone of your ceremony. Keep in mind that if you have opted for a traditional religious clergy, there may not be much flexibility. Communication is key, therefore, always ask.
Ask and be clear on any ground rules.
As an inclusive and interfaith minister, my rules are very liberal. If you have chosen a traditional clergy, there may not be very much flexibility on the rules. For example, a Catholic priest may not be able to include traditional Jewish practices. However, there are open minded clergy who are willing to co-officiate with one another; so just ask.
Make sure your officiant can sign your license
Officiants can perform ceremonies in any US State. However, some states have different requirements as to who can sign the license. For example, in New York City I would have to be registered with the City Clerk’s Office for at least 24 hours before I sign any marriage license. Some religious clergy only offer the religious ceremony but expect couples to be legally married at the Clerk’s office. Always ask ahead if they are able to make the ceremony legal in your state.
Get things in writing
At the end of every consultation, I always email my couples a summary of everything we discussed. This includes, date, time, location of the ceremony, expectations on both sides, pricing, accepted payment methods, and contact information. Wedding planning can be very stressful and in the time during a consultation, a lot is discussed and things can be missed. This is why it is extremely important that communication is clear on both ends. Not all officiants or clergy operate with a contract or officiating agreement, but you should always ask for one or at least a summary of what was discussed.
Be kind and respectful
The wedding industry is a consumer driven business, keep in mind that for officiants it is more than just a business. For many it is a very special and sacred event. Being part of a couple’s wedding is an honor, and once the couple chooses their officiant, it becomes a very special partnership. This is your special day yes, and you are paying for a service, just don’t be a bridezilla/groomzilla/motherIn-lawzilla, well you get the idea. Just be kind and respectful.
Consider an “alternative” officiant
Now that you are clear on what you want. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to seek out alternative officiants like myself. I take pride in creating the ceremony of my couple’s dreams, and I am always open to new ideas. Many like myself are often willing to co-officiate with another clergy member, or even a friend or relative of yours. If you wish to have a friend or relative officiate and get them ordained, make sure it is legal in your state.