Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and dedication. Before you get too deeply involved with choosing the right caterer, looking at dresses and all the other elements that go into making the day special, it helps to find the right person to function as the officiant or celebrant for the ceremony. In order to make the best decision, it helps to ask yourself five key questions and make sure you are happy with the answer.
1. Credentials and Experience
Before you talk with any potential celebrant, it helps to make sure he or she has the right credentials to perform a legally binding ceremony. Check with the local municipality in St. Croix and find out what the criteria happens to be. In many locations, any individual who holds certain municipal positions or is ordained by a religious organization recognized by the jurisdiction can perform the ceremony.
Along with the ability to officiate at a legal ceremony, it helps to choose a celebrant who has done this sort of thing in the past. There’s a good chance that he or she has picked up some tips along the way that would end up saving you a lot of time and frustration. Unless there is some particular reason why you want to go with someone who is brand new to officiating, experience is a good thing to have on your side.
2. How Do You Feel About the Celebrant
Since getting married is one of the most important steps you could take, it only makes sense that you want to feel some sort of connection with the celebrant. As you discuss the possibility, make it a point to assess your overall sense about the individual. Is he or she the type of person you can talk with easily? Do you genuinely like the individual? Are you comfortable with whatever traditions or standards he or she must include in order to comply with any religious or other aspects of the ceremony?
It is a good checkpoint to see if the officiant is available for questions after your initial meeting? If so, how often? Is it by phone or email? If your wedding date is quite a few months away, will the officiant meet a second time in person? Will he/she charge you for that second meeting? All these are important questions to cover – especially the ones that relate to costs.
Another important aspect to look into is personalization. Does the officiant offer a cut-and-dry, 10-minute experience, or are they able to customize it to suit your unique requirements?
3. Location’s the Thing
You also want to inquire about the location of the officiant. This is not the big issue that it was in years past. You will find that many celebrants are happy to celebrate the wedding at any number of locations. You will find some that due to factors such as religious reasons may only perform the ceremony in specific locales. Before getting too deep into the negotiations, make sure that the celebrant is ready, willing and able to officiate at the location you have in mind for your ceremony.
4. Paying for the Services
There is no across-the-board standard for tendering a payment to the officiant. Several factors affect the cost of providing this type of services. Some religious traditions forbid their ministers from accepting payment for performing the ceremony, but have no problem if the happy couple wants to defer the minister’s out of pocket expenses. Other traditions allow their ministers to receive gratuities up to a certain amount from the happy couple or whoever is paying for the wedding and reception. Still other traditions, especially elected officials who are empowered to perform wedding ceremonies, will charge specific fees.
Your job is to find out what type of charges are standard and usual for the officiant you have in mind and make sure what you can afford to spend is in line with those charges.
You also want to determine early on if the celebrant who has caught your eye is free to perform the ceremony on the date you have in mind. If not, then you will need to keep looking for someone who is a good fit for the type of celebration you have in mind.
Keep in mind if your first choice is not free on the proposed date, there is a good chance he or she can recommend you to a colleague who would be just right for your big day. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations, since a short list of possible candidates could save you a lot of time and frustration.
Whatever you do, don’t wait until the last minute. It is vitally important to have you officiant locked in early to ensure they are involved in rehearsals and getting to know you as a couple. This will make things run more smoothly on the day.
The bottom line is that you should feel perfectly at ease with the celebrant. A wedding day is nerve wracking enough without having to deal with an officiant who is cold, unreachable, and in general makes the hackles on the back of your neck come to attention just by entering the room. Go with someone that you genuinely like and your day will be all the more pleasant and special.
About the Author: Guest Post Contributed by Celebrant Zone