Deciding who will officiate your wedding ceremony isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Your wedding officiant will be overseeing the most important part of your wedding day–the actual ceremony and signing of our marriage certificate. If you’re having a non-religious ceremony, it might be difficult to select someone–many people opt for a friend, but others want to hire an officiant, someone who has experience marrying couples. We spoke to Catherine Kentridge, a professional officiant who has officated weddings in both Ontario and the U.K., who says that couples need to think about what’s really important on their big day.
“Officiants have the ability to help you create a completely personalized ceremony unique to you and your partner,” she says. “You have to take this into account when having a realistic expectation of price point.” While you may think that your wedding ceremony has to follow everyone else’s, there are special elements that you can include that you may not have thought of previously. “If a couple has different religions or speaks more than one language, that’s something to consider talking to your officiant about,” Kentridge shares.
Kentridge says that for some couples, the officiant acts as an advisor on etiquette and finding a balance when it comes to blending what each partner wants on their big day. Depending on the couple’s needs, the officiant’s involvement in the process can vary. “As soon as you know your date, you’ll want to look into hiring an officiant,” Kentridge advises. She receives many clients from referrals, or clients who have seen Kentridge officiate a friend or family member’s wedding.
After a potential client reaches out, Kentridge sets up an initial meeting with them. “Make sure you have in mind what kind of unique elements you’ll want to include in your day,” she says. During this initial meeting you can also check with your officiant to ensure they are licensed. You should also make sure there’s a good connection, and that your officiant is listening to what you want. “You have to ask yourself, is this person listening to what you want, or are they telling you what to do?” Kentridge explains.
After the meeting, Kentridge drafts the ceremony and sends it to the couple for approval. The approved ceremony will include all the details and acts as a script. “It’s almost like a stage play,” Kentridge says. It will indicate when the groomsman should pass over the rings and all the important details.
It’s also up to you whether or not you want your officiant to be there with you for the rehearsal. “Sometimes couples want to really make sure they have everything practiced before the actual event, and other couples don’t want to have a rehearsal and say they want to full experience the ceremony.” However, Kentridge says a rehearsal is important. “It allows everyone to know exactly what to do, where to stand and how the ceremony will play out.”