We’re in love with wedding ceremonies. Many ElopeNC vendors would say the vows are our favorite part, and we wish more couples came into wedding planning excited about creating an amazing ceremony. Let’s talk about how to hire an officiant you vibe with. If you’re not sure why you should be excited about your ceremony, think about your love story… Look at your partner and the journey you’ve been on… Think about your favorite memories, hobbies, and dreams… Then think about all that “you-ness” being woven into a beautifully written story. If you’re not pumped yet, it’s time to have a date night, pronto.
Who’s going to tell your love story?
If you have a place of worship you regularly attend, you may have an ordained religious leader whom you have a relationship with, and the choice may be easy. Others consider having a family member or friend officiate, but we encourage couples to check state laws before going this route (in NC, online ordination is not considered legal). If no one in particular comes to mind, we recommend hiring a professional officiant so you can have a wonderful ceremony with none of the stress.
So how do you hire the right officiant?
First, you have to figure out what you actually want your ceremony to feel like. You may have thought about how beautiful it’ll be, and how much fun the reception will be, but have you thought about how you want to feel during your wedding ceremony? In that short window of time when it’s just you and your partner, eyes and hands locked for eternity in a moment, tears blurring the edges of your vision, with only a voice to keep you grounded in the moment, what do you want that voice to say?
Will the voice speak of marriage and its virtues, of its beauty and challenges? Will the speech be religious or secular? Will it speak of what marriage has always meant, or what it means to you and your partner? Will it share passages from religious texts or beloved poems, Star Wars quotes or a line from your favorite novel? Will you hear your love story shared, depicted as a romance for the ages, as the funny adventure it’s been, as a story of joining two hearts and families? Will there be more than one language or more than one speaker? Do you want your ceremony to be romantic, entertaining, uplifting, or serious? Will your time together be brief, or will the ceremony be long; will you stand on top of a mountain, or in a private home?
Once you have a clear idea of who and what you want, it becomes much easier to find the perfect officiant to fill that space. Whether you find a few officiants through word of mouth, online research, or through a vendor recommendation, you’ll want to ask a few questions to make sure they’re the right fit for your ceremony. After all, it’s a once in a lifetime celebration of your love story, so we hope you find the perfect person to fill that role.
Before you start asking any other questions, you’ll want to make sure they’re available for your date and time. Many officiants work multiple weddings on a day, so if you don’t have a set ceremony time, chat with your top choices and see what times are available to you. Consider these questions:
- Will you be the person present at the wedding, or do you have a team?
- Will you be working any other weddings that day or weekend?
- Are you able to work at my venue, or do you only perform ceremonies in your place of worship?
- How are you legally ordained?
Price & Logistics
There can be quite a range in prices for officiants, with factors like expertise, demand, client experience, additional services like rehearsals and premarital counseling, and more. We encourage you to have a conversation with your potential officiants about their rates so you can fully understand what is included. Love story ceremonies are more involved and often start around $500-800.
- What is your rate for a standard ceremony, and what does that include?
- What is your most popular package? And what are the alternatives?
- Do you come to the rehearsal? Does your rate include this?
- When are payments due?
- What is the refund policy if our wedding needs to be postponed?
- Is there a difference in rates or services between a standard wedding and an elopement?
Creating the Ceremony Speech
If you want a simple ceremony so you can say “I do” and become a married couple, many officiants have ceremony templates available for lower prices, so you’ll get great delivery of a traditional ceremony with your names in it. If you want to get a bit more personal, chat with your officiant prospects about their speech creation process. You’ll also want to make sure the officiant can perform any religious or cultural traditions you want to include.
- What is your ceremony writing process like? How much input do we have?
- How many times will you speak with us before the wedding?
- How do you learn about our relationship?
- How personalized will our ceremony be?
- Are there any restrictions with respect to the music, readings, unity ceremonies, etc?
- How are interfaith marriages handled?
- Will we see a copy of the ceremony script beforehand?
- About how long are your ceremonies?
Ceremonies have always been beautiful and special, but as we experience a changing world where the future is more uncertain than normal, we hope people cherish their wedding ceremonies. Elopements allow you to marry the love of your life whenever, wherever, and with whomever in attendance. You can celebrate your marriage with a reception later, but there’s no need to wait for your marriage to begin, so make sure you hire an officiant you vibe with for an awesome wedding day.
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