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What to Think About When Finding a Wedding Officiant

Are you ready to start searching for your wedding officiant? Here are a number of things to keep in mind.

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Your officiant will be one of the stars in your wedding, so you’ll want to make sure you cast the role correctly. What you don’t want is someone who fumbles lines or surprises you with new additions to their script when you get to the altar. This may mean auditioning a few candidates before you find “the one”, but sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs to find a prince.

Here’s what to think about when finding a wedding officiant.

Type of ceremony
No matter what type of ceremony you’re going for, you’ll want to make sure the wedding officiant you choose is versed in your customs. That means they should know how to approach your faith’s scripts and wedding traditions with ease and comfort. Or, if you’re hosting a secular affair, you’ll want to make sure they’re willing to omit religious references altogether.

Provincial laws
Here’s where things can get a little tricky. Each province has a different set of marriage laws which outlines exactly who can legally marry people. You’ll want to visit your provincial government site to make sure the marriage commissioner you want actually can preside over your ceremony (sadly, this may mean your recently ordained BFF is a no-go). In every province there are both religious and nonreligious options available.

You and your soon-to-be spouse
Find someone who shares, or at the very least, respects your beliefs. Some religious officiants stick strictly to the books, so you’ll want to ask if they’re willing to perform interfaith or same sex marriages. If they’re not prepared to alter their script to meet your needs it may be time to look elsewhere.

Your wedding style
Think about your wedding vows, how you want your ceremony to play out and the tone you want it to take. Do you want your wedding to have a serious vibe and an officiant that never breaks from the script? Or, do you want a more lighthearted affair with a few jokes peppered in? Remember, your wedding officiant will most likely do more talking than you at your ceremony, so you’ll want them to emcee it right!

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Their language
If you want your wedding to err on the secular side you may want to ask your officiant to drop a few of the religious verses they’d regularly include in their script. Some may not love this suggestion, so make sure you ask about it right out of the gate to avoid any surprises when you get to the altar. On the same note, you’ll probably want to give their ceremony notes a once-over to ensure that nothing odd pops up. Maybe you think “til death do us part” dampens the mood? It’s your prerogative to ask for a change.

Their experience
Having a seasoned pro will pretty much ensure that your ceremony will go off without a hitch. Now, that’s not to say that a new kid on the block will drive your big day into the ground, you may just feel a little more confident in someone who’s been in the game for a while. Regardless, ask to see a written or recorded copy of their work so you can gauge how they perform weddings.

Your connection
Your wedding officiant will play one of the most important roles in your ceremony, so you’ll want to be comfortable with the one you choose. Together you’ll work to craft the perfect wedding that fits you just right - this may mean counselling sessions and collaborating on your personalized ceremony. What you don’t want is someone that will judge you, your partner or your impending union. Remember, their personality is just as important as their work experience and credentials.

Your Budget
Depending on the type of officiant you have, they may charge more or less for their services. If you’re using someone like a Justice of the Peace, their rates are typically the same across the province. A wedding celebrant on the other hand, takes a "full-service" approach to designing your wedding ceremony and will charge accordingly. Find out how much they’re services are going to cost you right off the bat so that you can add it into your budget.

Jelger + Tanja Photography

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