The choice of a minister/officiant for your wedding is a highly personal decision. After you've researched and reviewed many officiants, the choice should be easy... But then again, maybe not.
From the officiant's standpoint - mine, of course - the choice should be based on several factors...
* Personality - does the officiant's personality blend with yours? If you are talking to someone for the first time, and the person is interested in your wedding details and is interested in you and your intended's wants, needs and desires, that is a good start! However, off-color jokes, abruptness or focusing on only one aspect of the wedding - money - then that person is probably not a good fit for you.
* Availability - This point covers TWO aspects.
Availability for booking on your wedding day and time... and availability for you to contact and/or speak with them when you have a question. If the officiant is availale for your wedding date and time, that should be confirmed from the very start and should be very easy to answer. If not, do they have another officiant or minister to refer you to and will they do so? If so, you have found someone who cares about you as a bridal couple and not just as a source of income.
Are they available via phone, email, facebook/twitter, website contact, etc? Everyone has a schedule and appointments, however, you should be able to get a return phone call or message within a reasonable amount of time. What is reasonable? Depends on the day... if weddings or rehearsals are being held - usually Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but not exclusively - each and every couple deserves the undivided attention of the minister/officiant during their rehearsals and absolutely undivided and focused attention before and during the ceremony - phones off !!! Messages can and should be returned before and after these events, as soon as possible.
* Professionalism - This point is fairly obvious, but, then again, maybe not. If the person speaks professionally on the very first phone call, that is a huge plus - if not, then you may be better off calling someone else - see the "Not So Great Wedding Ceremonies" below... And of course, the officiant must be dressed appropriately for your ceremony - if you are having a theme wedding, that should be discussed beforehand how you want the officiant dressed; if a casual wedding, what do you want the officiant dressed in; formal - suit appropriate!
* Pricing - This is always a difficult discussion, and totally understandable. Of course, I believe the ceremony is the most important part of the entire day - I would, wouldn't I! - and while my rates will probably not be the lowest of the choices, the care with which I treat all of my clients is highly personal and unusual!
You will absolutely find officiants who are cheaper - notice I didn't say less expensive... Some are higher. It seems as though you are only paying for 15-30 minutes of the officiant's time for the fee - but, are you?
* The time that goes into the ceremony is not always obvious:
Initial conversation and time on the phone - anywhere from five to ten minutes on up to a couple of hours.
* Meeting time (including travel to and from), if requested, with the couple - depending on location, this could be anywhere from two hours up to five hours (again, including travel time to and from).
* Time developing, creating and editing the ceremony and the drafts - including email and phone time concerning the editing - time working and follow-up with emails/phone calls and questions that may or may not be related to the ceremony itself... where can we have the wedding? is it okay to have a memorial ceremony included for loved ones who have passed? ... and many others.
* Rehearsal time - for me, not a requirement as many coordinators, planners and even family friends can help with the smaller size bridal parties - if you have someone who is very familiar with the process, this fee can be used elsewhere in the budget. If not, and you are worried about having a no-stress wedding day, then by all means, book us for the rehearsal! You will know for sure that your wedding ceremony will flow and be as beautiful as you have always hoped it will be
* Officiating the ceremony - Sounds easy... but...
Arriving early so the bride and groom do not stress if of utmost importance.
Being prepared for the ceremony... and open for any last minute changes - this is all part of the "professionalism" that should be required for your wedding.
Checking in with the bride and groom to finalize any last-minute details and get the marriage license.
Double-checking the ceremony location and discussing any potential problems with the bride and groom - and getting them resolved!
Checking in with the venue, the coordinator/planner and the DJ so they know you have arrived and are ready to go so the wedding timeline goes smoothly.
Finding and getting the bridal party "rev'ved" (cute, huh?) and ready to go for both the ceremony and the reception.
Lining up for the ceremony with the bridal party, parents, grandparents, ushers, etc.
Officiate your ceremony! - Yep, this sounds easy too, but believe me, it's a blessing and a very important job! The officiant should be prepared for anything - and able to handle any crisis during the ceremony. Putting the couple at ease is a very important part of the ceremony - everyone's watching!
Post-Ceremony - The officiant's job after the ceremony is to gently help the guests moved over to the reception area so the couple and the bridal party and family can get all the pictures taken in as quick a time as possible - the guests, reception and dancing are waiting!!!
License follow-up - Depending on the couple's wishes and needs, the officiant takes care of getting the license back to the county where the couple registered.
Our fees reflect many things and all of the above are part of the process. Having a professional and experienced officiant for your wedding day will take light-years of worry and stress out of the process. And our fees reflect this professionalism. This isn't greed speaking, just the reality of time and care involved, and a fee that allows me to do this work full time, which contributes to the quality of both the the finished ceremony and the process that leads up to it.Part of the fees reflect the distance to the location - travel time, etc. - but only a small part, gas isn't cheap, nowadays... Part of the fees reflect the day and time of day that the ceremony is to be held - if the couple is flexible - i.e., morning or early afternoon weddings - then the fee will reflect that. If a rehearsal is not needed - in the couple's viewpoint - then why have it? And if you have questions about the rehearsal and have booked us for the ceremony, ask away!!!
We pride ourselves on going beyond the expected - both with the ceremony creation and all aspected before, during and after. We have helped set up receptions - if we are sitting around watching everyone work and can help in any way, why not? We have helped move chairs and tables so the bride and groom can get ready for the ceremony. We have written last minute mini-ceremonies on-the-fly - can you say "S'Mores Blending Ceremony" ?
Okay - now on to the "Not So Great Wedding Ceremonies" part... these are second-hand, third-hand and some may be totally hearsay, but do you want to take the chance...??
* "My brother's minister totally ruined his wedding by launching into a totally unexpected... and unrelated sermon... then he trailed off into complete silence... and then opened up for aan altar call - with the couple standing stunned at the altar... during the ceremony!!!!" And when the perplexed guests just sat there (after being bored out of their minds for a long unrelated sermon), the minister then went on into the ceremony as though nothing unusual had happened... sigh...
* The officiant that showed up for the wedding was wearing sweats and tennis shoes... and had no intention of changing... for the couple's fully formal wedding!
* One couple's officiant cancelled their wedding on the Thursday before their Saturday wedding... via text message! And no, he did NOT answer the phone when they tried to call him back...
Sigh... and double-sigh... unprofessional? Not even close... Don't take a chance with your wedding day plans and memories.