For marriage to be legal, you need an officiant presiding. Here’s how to find yours.

The first thing you have to decide is if you want an officiant from a specific religion or not. If you do, there may be requirements, such as premarital counseling or certain venues you must use.

If religion isn’t a factor, you could have anyone from your favorite uncle to your eloquent college roommate get ordained online and conduct your ceremony. Just be very sure it’s someone reliable and comfortable with public speaking.

Your third option is to hire a nondenominational officiant – find them in wedding magazine and website directories, at bridal shows and through online searches. Ask your venue if they can suggest great officiants who are familiar with the space, getting recommendations from friends, and checking review sites like Yelp.

Ask Questions

Every officiant is different and will have a unique style and personality, which is why it’s key to interview several people and ask both direct and open-ended questions, says the Rev. Judith Johnson, Ph.D., an interfaith minister and author of “The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day” (Sourcebooks, 2013). Examples include: would you describe couples who typically choose you as their officiant? Do you use a standardized ceremony? Do you book more than one ceremony on a given day? How do you feel about [any concerns, such as having children before marriage or same-gender marriages]?

Also helpful: seeing if you can watch the officiant perform a ceremony live, or ask for a video.

The Ins and Outs

According to Johnson, most couples book their officiant at least three to six months prior to their event. Although it is still considered proper to invite the officiant (and spouse, if married) to the reception, notes Klaff, these days many will politely decline. As for tipping, she adds, while common, it should really be for above and beyond service.

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