Your Officiant Is NOT An Afterthought: How To Find Your Ceremony-Elevating Human

Images courtesy of  Forthright Photo .

Images courtesy of Forthright Photo.

Has finding an officiant been an afterthought when it comes to wedding planning? Are you developing an incredible elopement and find yourself totally lost as to where to begin with the ceremony itself? Or are you a fellow vendor who doesn’t have any officiants you enthusiastically recommend to your clients? I am sharing the common roadblocks my couples face in finding an officiant, the genesis of my work in this area, and a guide to considering your values and criteria to select your perfect match.

From nonprofit program manager to yoga studio manager to wedding and elopement planner, I am lucky enough to do work that I LOVE and that I truly believe makes an impact for the beautiful people of this world. I love wedding and elopement planning because it is work that allows me to flex my creative muscles behind the scenes while allowing my couples to shine. It is the ultimate act of service (which also “happens” to be my love language). One of the planning challenges I hear about often is finding an officiant that fits my couples’ ceremony and lifestyle.

These are the most common concerns that crop up…

“We want to get married but we know nothing about officiants. We want someone who is down to earth and ‘gets us’ without the religious backdrop or required counseling. We want the ceremony to have a nod to tradition without feeling bogged down by it.”

“We are having a hard time finding someone who is LGBTQ friendly, open to using non-traditional pronouns, and excited to create a script that sounds like us. It matters to us that the person we choose has experience working with different kinds of couples and who understands how the ceremony dynamic is affected by those nuances.”

“We’ve talked to a lot of officiants, but they mostly talked about themselves on the phone and didn’t spend a whole lot of time getting to know us. We want someone who is interested in who we are and what this day means to us, our friends, and our family.”

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…and these are EXACTLY the kinds of desires I want to hear from my couples. I work with people who are not only interested in throwing a rad party to celebrate their commitment, but who are also equally invested in co-creating a ceremony ritual that kicks off their marriage legacy. You heard me: joining your lives together is an epic decision worthy of ritual and ceremony. Why not treat it as such and find the humans who support you?!

It’s from planning and consulting with my clients that I saw which humans were not yet being served by officiants and how this ultimate act of service could improve. I believe that officiants, much like planners, should lead with empathic listening and curiosity, be more invested in the couple than in themselves, have a clear road map for creating a custom ceremony experience, and elevate the experience of all who are present. My couples are the inspiration that led me to lean into officiating ceremonies; they are the ones who first asked me to officiate for them and who continue to inspire me with how they want to be uniquely self-expressed on the day of their marriage. I delight in taking our existing relationship into a deeper conversation around values and family. I crave the opportunity to understand why and how couples choose to take on a deeper commitment to one another in this world. I enjoy holding open space for people to love freely and be seen and recognized for who they are and how uniquely they love. And I am lit up by work that allows me to integrate you, me, and we together as one on their special day.

So where the heck do we start?!

Whether it is a friend, a family member, or a professional you are considering to officiate your ceremony, here is my criteria for finding the special human to elevate your marriage commitments:

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  • Who are they to you? Because I work with couples who are heartily invested in co-creating marriage celebrations that reflect their souls, their values, and their joy, I get to know my clients on a deep and meaningful level. In the course of planning their celebration, I ask: “Do you have a well-spoken friend or family member that would bring love and joy as your master of ceremony?” If such a human exists, I would rather that someone of great meaning speak their love with the support of my officiant coaching package. If not, like any planner, I also have a list of wonderful officiants that I recommend to my couples if they are truly a fit. I will never make a blanket recommendation or push a preferred vendor if the creative experience does not align with my couples’ values.

  • What is their values system? Don’t be afraid to ask point-blank. You want a person who is aligned with and understands the way you see the world and how you want to proceed together. If family is a cornerstone of your identity, you want a person who can speak to that same value from their heart-space (rather than from the Google-space). If you want someone who is fluid in the language of gender identity, you want to ask whether or not they have experience performing ceremonies for LGTBQ couples. Before you enter the conversation, take time with your partner to create a list of the top 3-5 values you share and want present in your ceremony ritual.

  • What does the ceremony creation process look like? Most officiants have a creative process for putting together the content of your ceremony. Be sure to ask what their process is and what you are expected to contribute throughout so that the terms of your relationship are clear, leaving more time and space for creativity and ease. For example, my process looks like this…

    • Conduct a 45 minute meet-up or video call with the couple to get to know one another on a human level and see if we are a match for one another in the ceremony realm;

    • Deliver the proposal and finalize the who, what, when, and where of their date, including any travel fees, add-on packages, or other accommodations;

    • Send my questionnaires for the couple to complete, both of which reflect my values as an officiant and their values as a couple and family;

    • Produce a first draft script no later than one month prior to their date (unless otherwise specified) to review together in person or via video chat for feedback;

    • Create a final draft for written approval from the couple no later than two weeks prior to their date; and,

    • Show up with a managed state and all the soul shine on their special day to share their crafted ritual and articulate their marriage legacy.

  • How do you move forward together? Chances are you aren’t reading this piece because you’re price shopping officiants (and if you are in that boat, my advice is to pay $50 to ordain your Uncle Steve to do the deed for you). All joking aside, you’re likely reading this post to the very end because you’re a little stuck finding the balance between making sure you have an officiant to make your marriage official AND finding someone who will make your day a true reflection of the two of you. When you find your person, make sure you are empowered to move forward! Ask about how to sign the contract, create a payment plan (if offered), place your deposit, and get started on the pieces you provide throughout the process.

Are you inspired and want to explore working together?

I would love to meet the two of you. I want to hear your values and vision for life together. Select your celebration style, tell me a little bit about you two, and you’ll hear from me in the next 48 hours to schedule our first face-to-face hang. Thanks for taking the time, beautiful humans!

TO WED!

TO ELOPE!