Post # 1
I’ve been researching officiants lately. We want a very simple, and short ceremony. We aren’t religious and don’t attend church so I’ve been looking online. Main consideration for our officiant, sadly I know, is budget. I’ve found a person who is willing to work within our budget and seems really ontop of things and organized (I found her via online search and have been talking with her via email).
My sister had the minister from my mother’s church for her wedding, and I don’t think they were very happy with the job he did (he said "obey" in the vows which they specifically said they DID NOT want and they had met with him and discussed it with him and it wasn’t even there in the written words!)
So, is finding the perfect officiant a crap shoot? Are there certain questions and concerns I should have about our officiant? There aren’t too many reviews of officiants online either, and none of the person I’m thinking of going with. (Note, our budget constraints do not allow an inperson meeting…which in all honestly I don’t think is necessary)
All I really want is a person to show up on time, say the words we agreed upon loudly and clearly and be able to legally sign our certificate). Thoughts or advice, or horror stories or great stories regarding officiants please!??
Post # 3
Well, I lucked out–I found my officiant on the Internet and we have kept in touch over the past three months rather frequently. We also drove up to his church to meet with him in person and we were happy to learn he is very much the person we were looking for. My best friend did not have share the same fortune. My friend had a destination wedding last summer. She found her officiant online and seemed happy with him. They did not have a rehearsal, and it showed during the ceremony. He refefrred to the bride by the wrong name, and at one point, he forgot the other bride’s name and required a verbal prompt to get it right. He told a story about how Jesus turned water to wine and went on this tangent for quite a while. It was awkward, and everyone looked dumbfounded–it just didn’t tie in to the ceremony whatsoever. He was not well groomed; he had stubble on his face and looked to me as though he just hopped out of bed only moments before the ceremony began.
I would advise you to talk to your officiant about your expectations. We spoke to our officiant and he brought up his attire on his own. It’s best to be open with your officiant so he or she can work with you to create the ceremony you want.
Post # 4
I think it’s a crap shoot – we got lucky. We went with the lowest bidder, I emailed him the ceremony wording I wanted, didn’t even see the guy til I was walking down the aisle (not that I was really paying attention to him at that point). His wife was there for our rehearsal (she’s also an officiant) and we didn’t have time to meet with him before the wedding weekend.
And yet, he was everything we wanted – he read our custom ceremony as if he’d performed it a million times (and even complimented me on it, asking if we minded if he kept it on file for future reference) and looked all official with black robes & everything (like a judge or something – not priest robes). So all’s well than ends well. Good luck to you in your search.
Post # 5
Since I live in the state of SC, and both SO and I are atheist and just want someone to sign our certificate in front of our wedding crowd, we’re having one of our close, well-spoken friends become a public notary, a somewhat easy process in SC, as SC state law says "officers authorized to administer oaths in this State" ie public notaries, can sign the certificate. So that’s how we’re solving our problem but I understand it is different in every state. But our "ceremony" is hardly a ceremony and will be a brief speaking of words in the midst of our party and that’s it.
Post # 6
It’s not a crap shoot, but, like choosing any wedding proffesional, it does take a bit of research, some phone calls, and time.
You should ask:
How are you ordained / legal to officiate my ceremony?
Can we customize the ceremony? Can we see it before hand? Can you read a ceremony we write? Can we write our own vows? Can we add readings?
Do you have any references?
I’m not sure what kind of ceremony you’re looking for, but you can always ask your venue for reccomendations… or check out places like the Celebrant Foundation, local Humanist Branch, or Unitarian Universalist Churches to find non-denominatioal or non-religious officiants who are willing to work with you.
If all else fails – look into the laws and see if a friend can be ordained.
I know you said your budget precludes meeting in person, but you should be able to get a good feel for your officiant over the phone – they’re a big part of your wedding, and you want to at least like them!
Post # 7
Just wanted to thank you guys for your responses. @ jessie, thanks for those tips and questions to ask! We’ve decided to move forward with the woman I found online, cross your fingers for us!
Post # 8
We got lucky. A friend of mine gave us the name of his Celebrant from when he got married. We LOVE HIM! He totally understands our wants of a God Free ceremony and is so sweet and kind and nice. He’s asked us a TON of what I thought were silly questions (we each had to fill out a questionnaire with questions like "When do you feel the closest to your significant other") and once I heard FI’s answers I knew they weren’t silly questions at all.
I definitely think his "vibes" are what sold us on him. I had a gut feeling he’d be perfect and I have no doubts that he will. Go with your gut. If you get a good feeling from the person you’re talking to then I think you should follow that feeling. 🙂
Post # 9
You should be able to find a celebrant for your state from a reputable organisation such as the Association for Wedding Professionals International. I think they are screened, and certainly I know they have to sign a Code of Conduct. All good ways to promote high standards in wedding industry professionals.
Post # 10
We got married in Vegas with Elvis , which was pretty awesome :-)… but I can understand that is probably not what you want to do (probably sick of that stuff, living in Vegas :-)).
I only know of one horror story, but which ended up not turning up so bad. One couple that I photographed this year was very late. They eloped in Central Park, so there was not everyone really waiting for them there… so the officiant just left!!! They arrived all ready and no officiant! (Come’on! Shouldn’t people be allowed to be late for their wedding?). They ended up recruiting their frien, who was a lwayer entitled to do these things to officiate and she did a really wonderful job, so it worked out for the best! (read more here if interested: http://www.anandalimaphotography.com/2009/05/lela-and-bubs-elopment.html)… so I guess, have someone tell the officiant not to leave (?!).
I also have a couple of friends who didn’t click with any of the officiants either, so they asked my husband (then boyfriend) to officiate. He didn’tknwo anything about that stuff, but they did the research and found that you can leagally marry someone (at least in California and some other states) if they are ordained by the Church of Universal life (it took him two minutes to get ordained over the Internet… and they accept all kinds of faiths).He proceeded to marry them in a verypersonal ceremony. It was lovely!… So, depending on your state, you could consider having a friend doing a very personal ceremony for you if it doesn’t work out with the woman from the Internet!
Either way, best of luck (it is probably is going to be great!)