When choosing a wedding officiant, there are a number of things to consider.
(1) What is the officiant’s background and training? As one who has a Masters degree, 4 years of graduate training beyond a college degree, I find it a little disturbing that individuals can sign up on a website and receive their “ordination” in a matter of minutes. Would you hire a plumber, mechanic, teacher or dentist, if they got their “papers” online in a matter of minutes?
(2) What is the purpose of the wedding ceremony? How does the officiant answer this question? A religious ceremony held in a church, is often considered a worship service and therefore done by pastors, priests, etc. As times have changed, and more ceremonies are held in other non-church locations, the idea of the worship service has relaxed a bit. However, if you are interested in a religious ceremony in a church or non-church location, I would suggest that you seek out an officiant who has some worship experience and religious training. These officiants, pastors, ministers and priests are usually accountable not only to a local congregation, but to a higher governing body.
On the other hand, if you have little religious belief and really havent been a practicing Christian, a civil ceremony is probably a better option for you. A civil ceremony can include whatever is meaningful to you and performed by a judge, pastor, minister, a justice of the peace and those who receive their “ordinations” online. These ceremonies usually have little mention of God, if any.
I have performed civil ceremonies over the years because the state gives me this responsibility. I try to create a ceremony that is meaningful to each couple, sometimes there is mention of God, sometimes not.
Remember, those who have received their ordinations online, have little training. Some states are not accepting that type of ordination. Check with your local clerk of court.
3. Is the officiant open to you writing your own vows, or does he or she offer some different vow options? Most couples choose one of the numerous options I provide. You are welcome to write your own vows, as long as the vows end with, “as long as we both shall live.” I would not marry a couple that makes promises on a temporary basis, or only as long they are in love or on fire with passion. The vows must indicate a permanence.
4. Does the officiant have restrictions when it comes to wedding location? Unless this involves some extreme sport, most officiants are flexible. However, if there is significant travel, you will incur more fees.
5. Discuss with your potential wedding officiant, the fees and cost to perform the ceremony & rehearsal. It is common to make a deposit to reserve the date, and the rest is usually due no later than the day before the wedding.