When John and I began our wedding planning journey, we didn’t really have strong feelings about who we should have officiate our wedding. I was raised in a very conservative, regular church-going family, but after high school, I kind of decided that that wasn’t really my thing. So we had no family minister or favorite pastor, and we both knew we didn’t want our wedding ceremony to be too uh, “Jesus-ey”. But one thing people who have never planned a wedding or paid attention to the finer details of other people’s wedding planning probably don’t realize is that there are lots of people who are “professional wedding officiants”.
My wedding officiant, Rev. Brenda Owen, aka “The WeddingWoman”, actually found ME, via this blogging gig! She saw I was a North GA bride, and gave me a shout-out on Facebook. I tossed her a few questions to answer for the benefit of The Broke-Ass Brigade. First, I asked her to differentiate between a wedding officiant and your average pastor/preacher/priest/yogi/etc: “A professional officiant ‘specializes’ in the ceremony only. They write and perform wedding ceremonies and some (like me) direct rehearsals. A religious official is a person in a clergy or Holy Order who has authority over formal religious leadership and they take care of the ritual aspects of the religious life. They teach and otherwise help in spreading the religion’s doctrine and practices as in the public worship of God.”
As you might expect, wedding officiants are pros – they don’t unite you in holy matrimony for free – but a good wedding officiant won’t mispronounce your names, stutter, mumble through the ceremony, or commit other such humorous wedding blunders, a la THIS GUY. So how do professional officiants compare, price-wise? “It is generally thought that if you book a local pastor to perform the ceremony they are less expensive because the church is paying their salary.” says Brenda. “Some supplement their income by performing weddings, others ask for a donation for the church.” John and I aren’t affiliated with a church, and supplying a donation to a random religious organization, without any knowledge of where or how it would be used, just wasn’t our style. So of course, a wedding officiant was an obvious choice for us. (Also, Brenda’s rates were VERY reasonable, and she’s extremely well reviewed on the interwebs! FYI!)
So what might two religiously ambiguous schmos like John and I do to kill time during our wedding ceremony? Brenda was amazingly helpful in this regard – she gave us a questionnaire to a assess what we wanted out of our ceremony, as well as a laundry list of unity rituals and customs we could choose from, if we so desired. Our cross-country moving craziness prevented us from being able to meet with Brenda in person as much as we would’ve liked – which Brenda insists is an essential part of the professional officiant experience. “I feel it is important for me to meet with ‘my couples’ that are having a formal wedding whenever possible…so that we can become acquainted and ‘bond’. It allows them to get to know me before their wedding and an opportunity for me to ask more personal questions about their relationship so that I can personalize their ceremony and write one based on what they want, and their personalities.”
We went with a semi-religious ceremony, peppered with the occasional mention of higher power, with a short prayer to start. (I apologize, I know I make it sound slightly like a restaurant special). Of course, wedding officiants can provide a wide range of ceremonies for people of different religious backgrounds and denominations. Is your marriage a cocktail of religious traditions? No problem – pros like Brenda can totally accommodate!
What do you think, BABs? Have you given a lot of thought to your wedding officiant selection? What’s hampering your search for your dream wedding officiant?