Find the Perfect Officiant
Throughout the U.S. the officiant fees generally run between $50 to $1,500. A prospective officiant will quote you their fee dependent upon a variety of considerations:
Larger metropolitan areas and unique locations have higher ranges;
The day of the week you ask the officiant to work (weekends are higher);
The season (some officiants charge less for off-season ceremonies);
Rehearsal or no rehearsal (wedding planners can assist here);
Some fees include travel;
Most importantly, the officiant's experience and fees (what's included and what's not included).
Officiants vary in their handling of these basic tasks. All officiants should:
Know the license requirement details (every state, county is different);
Ensure your license is filled out completely and properly (two different things);
Be friendly towards bride and groom, family and guests;
Be on time, organized and calm as the ceremony begins;
Be appropriately able to decipher the marriage license requirements;
Be dressed appropriately and cleanly for your needs;
Be prepared and attentive to your verbal/non-verbal cues;
Be able to guide individuals or larger groups easily;
Be easy to hear and clearly understand when presenting the ceremony;
Help you feel cared for, as the very special couple you are - Not all officiants follow-through with the same degree of care.
Officiating is no different than any other job in that there is average, above average and exceeds-average performance.
For some officiants, doing the minimal amount works; for others, nothing short of 'giving their all' works. If you are a couple needing something 'short and sweet,' someone to only satisfy the legal requirement, consider going to a Justice of the Peace, but know there will probably be no personal or spiritual component whatsoever. Justices' generally start around $200. There is no better or worse...just be aware of the differences.
Officiants vary in what they include and don't include.
An example of this would be the available creative or personalizing options. Some officiants have these options; some prefer to stick with a standard ceremony. Of those with options, some have developed them extensively, and some have not. What's important to you? When you are interviewing, make sure you ask questions so you have answers related to what you need.
Officiants vary in their attitude and perspective.
Some wedding ministers and civil officiants may see officiating 'as a job,' no different than any other job. Some see it as a fun on-going learning and enriching opportunity, to provide loving and excellent service to others. Some enjoy expressing their passion by doing more. Also, some wedding ministers and civil officiants believe there's a proper 'right and wrong' way to conduct a ceremony in the context of their background, church and religion. This may or may not fit well with your belief system.
And couples vary in their personal needs.
Ask yourself and your mate... How do the above ideas play into your needs and what you envision for your once-in-a-lifetime-ceremony? What officiating values are most important to you? Least important to you? Do you need more information to make your decision?
Consider whether you've placed enough emphasis on selecting your officiant, as this person will guide you and your life partner through the vows you'll commit to for the rest of your lives. Often, couples will spend $5,000 on a wedding dress, yet resist investing in their actual marriage for a 10th of that price. Investing in the right officiant will help you feel understood, confident and connected. As an officiant since 1996 and happily married over 35 years, I want to help you reach your dreams.