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    How to Find a Great Wedding Officiant

    reverendAs a wedding officiant myself, I know how important it is for couples to find someone whom they trust, are comfortable with, and who has the right experience to match the couple’s needs. The selection of the wedding officiant can help to set the tone for all that’s to come. So if you are in need of such a person now, I recommend that you consider the following tips in this two-part process:

    Part One: Do Your Research

    1. Browse the Internet, look at your social media sites, check out officiants’ websites, and contact a few officiants who attract your attention and match your interests. See if you connect with them. Try to talk to them on the phone or Skype, so you can get a feeling for how they look and sound.

    2. Ask your friends and work colleagues for recommendations.

    3. Get the names of ministers or officiants from friends’ weddings that you especially liked.

    4. Check directories that you trust. The Golden Gate Business Association’s directory can be helpful, for example, and you might also consider checking out comments at Yelp.

    5. Look in your trusted newspaper, such as the one you are reading now! (This is a totally biased and self-serving piece of advice from this writer, of course, but it serves you too. You really can’t go wrong if you do.).

    6. Ask someone you know, love and admire. Ask them to get a certificate to marry you from the Universal Life Church online!

    7. Ask for referrals from your chosen photographer, DJ, caterer, florist, or venue owner/manager.

    Number one on this list really is the expected first step. Most of us all go to the Internet to check people and things out. Just take care to factor in the human component. Your wedding is so important that you want to be sure you feel right about the person who is to marry you. So, let’s move on to Part Two.

    Part Two: Interview Officiants

    Here are some questions that you might ask during the interviews:

    1. What is your experience? How many weddings have you done?

    2. What do you love about doing weddings? What calls you to this ministry? Why is marriage important and meaningful?

    3. Do you get to know the couple before creating a ceremony? How do you do that?

    4. What do you believe is the most important thing about the wedding ceremony? Why?

    5. Do you guide couples in choosing what elements they might want in the ceremony?

    6. How much creative input do your couples have in putting together the ceremony?

    7. What is most important for you to know about the couple you’re marrying?

    8. Do you require or recommend that we have pre-marital counseling?

    9. Can we meet in person with you (for the ones you feel drawn to) before we decide whether to hire you?

    10. What is your fee? Do you offer several choices of ceremony with different fees, for example, a customized wedding vs. a simple non-customized wedding?

    You will no doubt have other questions you want to ask. Do ask! While the fee for the officiant may be the lowest of your wedding expenses—compared to catering, photography, music, and the like—the ceremony itself, although short in duration, is the most important piece in the whole event. Whom you choose for this needs to be exactly the right person.

    My blessings to you in your wedding and in your married life for all time.

    Reverend Elizabeth River is an ordained Interfaith Minister based in the North Bay. For more information, please visit