Congratulations!  You’re getting married! The checklist is started, a date chosen – so much to think about, isn’t there?  Where will we hold the celebration? What colours do I want? What will I wear and what about my makeup?  I have the bridesmaids to get sorted out and dressed, I have the groomsmen to worry about……and the decorations!!  I can’t forget the photographer, the music, the rings, the flowers, the tables… oh, and I guess that I need to find someone to marry us legally!

Ah yes…. So often the Officiant gets dropped to the end of the checklist for that special day. And yet, without that Officiant to perform your legal wedding, it’s just going to be one big party for family and friends – not that it’s not going to be fun anyway! The Officiant’s services and your personal ceremony is at the very heart of your special day.  Finding the right Officiant to represent you and your fiancé should be one of the most important steps to complete early in the wedding day preparation process.

So, what does an Officiant do for you?

Good question – thanks for asking!  Many people only have to choose an Officiant once for their wedding, so the process for finding one and making sure the fit is right is not a well-known process. Some Officiants perform other ceremonies as well, such as Baby Welcomings and Memorials (as I do!) but primarily the Officiants perform weddings. The Officiant’s role is to:

  • Ensure that their licencing is up to date so that you are getting married – legally;
  • Create a meaningful and personalized ceremony that best represents this most important moment in your lives – even if the ceremony is short and sweet;
  • Perform a professional delivery of your service;
  • Ensure that the completed licence is mailed off to the Office of the Registrar General within the required 2-day timeframe.

Many Officiants enhance their services by including reminders for important dates (licences can be purchased 90 days prior to your wedding date), a copy of your ceremony for you to keep, customized Marriage Certificates for you to frame if you wish, follow up reminders when you should be able to apply for your legal copy of the licence (6-8 weeks after the ceremony).

All right….so I need an Officiant. What things should I consider when looking for one?

Another excellent question.

First, what kind of a ceremony are you looking for?  Are you religious? Do you want a wedding with your family minister? Or are you non-religious and looking for other options that will focus on family and friends and your special community’s support of you? There are plenty of Officiants out there representing all types of wedding ceremony approaches.

If you are choosing the family church and minister, your decision is simple. You just have to check to ensure that the minister and church are available for your chosen date. But what if you are looking for more of a civil ceremony, secular, or alternative religion?

Many alternative or philosophical groups will post the names of their Officiants on their websites. For example, I am a registered Officiant under the Ontario Humanist Society. I am listed both on their websites and in the list posted on the Province of Ontario website (link further down). Most of these officials will attend and perform your ceremony at the location of your choice. Some city and town halls do perform civil ceremonies as well, but flexibility as to location, format and timing is usually limited.

Are you using rings to seal your vows?  Or maybe you are considering a different kind of symbolic element for your ceremony like handfasting, or wine ceremony elements? What best represents the two of you? And what types of readings, poems or lyrics speak to you? And what about your vows? Your Officiant can guide you through the process of building your special ceremony. Meeting with your Officiant to ensure that you are comfortable working together is important too.

Okay, so the next question that I hear is, “How do I find an Officiant?”

Let’s go over a few of the ways you can find an Officiant:

  • Google “Wedding Officiants” – local providers should pop up, but not everyone is listed online;
  • Take note of officiants at your friends’ weddings, check in with your married friends;
  • Visit wedding shows – most wedding shows have a few officiants represented;
  • Wedding Facebook groups – some brides just throw the question out there and see what comes out of it;
  • Check with your local town hall or licence-issuing office – sometimes they have flyers for local officiants;
  • MUST DO: check the official Province of Ontario listing to ensure that the Officiant that you choose is on their authorized list of registered and licenced officiants. The only listing that they have is called “registered religious officials” but it includes non-religious and other alternative “religions” or philosophies as well.
  • Link to Licenced Officiants in Ontario: https://data.ontario.ca/dataset/registered-religious-officials

Last Question: What will an Officiant cost me?

Budget is usually a big question but for that service that is at the heart of your wedding and the real reason for gathering family and friends together to celebrate, the cost is much less than your big-ticket items like venue and food. The range for most Officiant services runs from $200-250 for a weekday wedding to $400 for a prime weekend ceremony.

Your wedding ceremony is one of the most important events in your life.  Make sure that you make it a priority to select the Wedding Officiant that best represents you as a couple and who makes you comfortable for your big day!

Be sure to visit my booth at the Bride and Groom Show, being held February 29 and March 1, 2020 at Century Weddings and Events in North Gower, ON.

 

Written by  Ann MacLaughlan, The Ceremony Company  613-619-7317