7 TIPS ON CHOOSING A WEDDING OFFICIANT
WHO CAN MARRY YOU? In the Province of Ontario, judges, justices of the peace, clerks and other persons specially designated by the province as well as clergy can officiate weddings. All of these have to be licenced by the province. If you are married by a minister or other religious official who is not licenced by the province, your marriage will be recognized by their religious institution but you will not be considered “married” in the eyes of the government.
It is a good idea to ask any wedding officiant you might be considering whether he or she is “licenced by the province” to officiate and register your wedding.
- TYPES OF OFFICIANTS: Most often judges or justices of the peace are too busy to officiate weddings. In practice the vast majority of wedding officiants fall under the category of “clergy”. Some of these clergy are professional full time clergy while others are part time officiants legally “licenced to marry” because they have been sponsored as wedding officiants and licenced through a recognized religious institution.
- WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? In general, clergy who pastor a church, synagogue or other religious institution have to adhere to the rules, rituals and guidelines of their religious institution. The ceremony will be religious and you will usually have little (if any) freedom to customize your wedding. There may often also be restrictions on photography during the ceremony.
- “OFF-SITE” WEDDINGS is a term used to describe wedding ceremonies held in venues other than churches and religious institutions. These may include for example, banquet halls, historical and cultural sites, parks and outdoor venues. Most “off- site weddings” are officiated by wedding officiants who are not full time professional pastors of religious institutions.
- NON-DENOMINATIONAL WEDDINGS –Strictly speaking a “non-denominational” wedding is a ceremony which does not have to follow the rules, rituals and guidelines of any specific religious institution. In practice, however, these days, “non-denominational” is used to mean “non-religious” – a ceremony which offer the couple freedom to give their own input into their wedding ceremony.
- COMPANIES SPECIALIZING IN PROVIDING WEDDINGS OFFICIANTS vs “FREE LANCERS”
There are numerous companies these days which specialize in providing wedding officiants. Some are very large and province-wide; others are smaller and more local.
Here are SEVEN Tips in “Shopping for an Officiant”
- Never allow yourselves to be married by an officiant you have not met or interviewed.
Sometimes you may meet with the “President” or “head” of a wedding company but you might have another officiant assigned to you. Always insist on meeting with the person who will marry you.
- Qualities to look for in an officiant: – first and foremost PERSONALITY! You want someone who is well-spoken, flexible, enthusiastic and friendly. If you want a more informal service, look for someone who is warm and won’t be afraid to crack a joke.
- Avoid officiants who are controlling! If you getting married “off-site” in a non-denominational wedding, you should be allowed to have considerable input into your wedding ceremony content and style. As well as your wedding ceremony photos!
- Different Wedding Ceremony Styles: “Set piece” ceremonies are in effect, “cookie cutters”. The wording of each ceremony is the same. Sometimes you are offered a choice – “set-piece” ceremony A, B or C.
- Constructing your own unique Ceremony: This involves choosing your own texts for parts of the ceremony, writing your own vows and/or messages and choosing from a wide variety of ceremony ideas – such as hand fasting, candle, wine, or sand ceremonies and many others. If you want creative control over your wedding choose an officiant who offers you lots of choices.
- Prices vary for wedding ceremonies. Some officiants quote fees which simply involves arriving at the wedding site, reading their fixed text and doing the legal paper work. Other officiants may charge for each meeting with you or for other forms of assistance. A rehearsal may (or may not be included in the price.) Other officiants quote a blanket price. Check what you are getting for your money. (prices range from $300 – 500 plus)
- Saving Money: Generally you will pay top price for all wedding related services held at “peak times” – summer weekend afternoons around 3 p.m. Almost all wedding service providers sell out these spots. You might negotiate a reduction in price by holding your wedding during the “off season” – November through to the end of April, or by holding your ceremony before 1:00 p.m. or after 5:00 p.m.