Who Will Marry You?
Traditionally, a couple got married at the church they regularly attend, with the church’s priest or minister officiating the ceremony. Over time, however, as more and more couples began having interfaith weddings, or one or both didn’t belong to any specific church, the necessity of finding someone else to officiate grew larger. Of course, a quick trip to the courthouse to be married by a Justice of the Peace has long been available as an option, but in time, many couples decided they needed better options.
The best choice for those couples who want a more memorable and personal ceremony than a courthouse wedding will provide is usually to hire a professional officiant. A professional officiant is also an ordained minister, but her primary focus is on officiating at big life events (weddings, funerals, baptisms, baby naming ceremonies, vow renewals, commitment ceremonies, etc.), but may or may not include traditional services held for a congregation.
Depending upon where you are getting married (states, parishes / counties, and cities may all have slightly different laws), there are generally four types of people who are legally allowed to marry couples:
- Church Clergy
- Justice of the Peace
- Professional Officiant / Ordained Minister
- One-time, temporarily licensed officiant (usually a friend or family member of the couple).
Here in Louisiana, for example, anyone performing a marriage ceremony must be registered with the state to do so. If a couple is married by someone who is not a legally registered officiant within the state of Louisiana, the marriage will not be legal.
Some couples choose a friend or family member as their officiant, and while this can add a very special touch to the ceremony, it can also be fraught with problems. That friend or family member may be a lot more nervous about his or her assignment than they’ve admitted. They will often decide to not participate at the last minute, and couples are left scrambling to find someone to perform the service. Or, more often, the chosen friend shows up, but bumbles and stumbles throughout the ceremony. Your special day doesn’t generally come with a do-over, so that friend or family member might not be the right officiant, after all.
Think about every facet of the wedding day event. Your wedding ceremony is the central and most important part. Take away all the words of the ceremony, and what is left? The walk down the aisle, the dress, the kiss. Important bits, to be sure, but it’s the ceremony that will always leave a lasting impression on everyone in attendance. And of course, it’s the only part that makes the marriage actually legal!
If, for some reason, the traditional church wedding won’t work for you, and you’re hoping for a bit more than a quick, cold trip to the courthouse, hiring a professional officiant is usually the right choice. There are many reasons why, actually, but here are a few:
- Experience and Reliability: You won’t have to worry about your friend stumbling over the words, or cancelling at the last minute. A pro officiant will be there on time, and will have the experience to smoothly carry out the ceremony from start to finish. Distractions and disturbances won’t trip her up. In fact, she’ll be able to resolve many of the little problems that often crop up, and her poise and patience will help keep everyone calm while moving things along nicely.
- Flexibility: Church services are usually rigid in format and rarely extend beyond the formal traditions imposed by the church. Likewise, the quick courthouse ceremony will be the same for every couple, with no personal touches. The professional officiant, however, will create an entirely custom ceremony designed specifically to accommodate each couple’s personalities, beliefs, and traditions. Different heritages may be combined; stories of the relationships may be presented, fun aspects might be included for some. The point is that each couple ends up getting a ceremony that is custom-tailored for them. This is what truly makes a ceremony special and memorable and unique.
- Service: A professional officiant has one goal in mind – to help the happy couple have the best ceremony possible! The church clergy’s main mission is rarely to officiate at weddings, nor is that the mission of most judges. That is the main mission of a professional officiant, however! Everything they do is based on making your wedding ceremony perfect for you! It’s not about the officiant, it’s not about the job, it’s all about the happy couple. When a professional has your best interests at heart, you get the best service imaginable.
- Offers Peace of Mind: After all the planning, the rehearsals, the fittings, and the nerves, what a couple needs is peace of mind. A professional officiant – the right one – will always be the calm presence that helps ease tensions, while reassuring everyone that it will all be ok. Of course, she doesn’t control all aspects of the day, but she will make sure that the two people standing before each other, vowing to love and honor one another for the rest of their lives, will be as calm and peaceful and joyful as possible throughout the ceremony.
- Reasonable: Considering the fact that the ceremony is really the highlight of the day, it is amazing that officiants are so reasonably priced. Most wedding favors cost more than the typical officiant charges for her services. With so much experience, flexibility, and service being offered, being reasonably priced is just an added bonus!
So who will be marrying you? For some, their priest, minister, or rabbi is the logical choice. For others, a Justice of the Peace will be fine. But for everyone in between, the right person is probably going to be the one who will provide them with the perfect, custom, personalized wedding ceremony they’ve always imagined. That person may be a friend, but more often, it will be a professional officiant. Talk to several officiants in your area. Then get in touch with me. If I’m the right fit for your wedding ceremony, you’ll know very quickly. Whoever you choose, I hope your day is as special and wonderful as possible! Cheers!