Over the years of being a wedding officiant I have learned a lot and have had a lot of questions. Here are the most common:
How long should my ceremony be? Well, this is up to you. You have just spent months, possibly years planning your wedding, do you want it to be short and sweet? Or do you want to show off your beautiful dress and handsome wedding party for as long as your guests are comfortable? The average ceremony is 17-22 minutes in length. Factors to consider for timing: is it inside or outside, is it HOT or COLD, how many elderly and young children are present, is what’s being said IMPORTANT to you, how long have the guests been sitting (did you start on time or even 5 minutes late)?
Is it OK to start late? Consider this the first impression your family and friends will have of your FIRST party as a couple. Never intentionally start late, this shows lack of respect for all of the thoughtful family and friends that honored you by arriving on time to celebrate with you. If you’ve been at the venue all day and planning this for weeks, months or years and you start late, it is not the impression you want to leave. Do NOT wait for late comers at the cost of disrespecting the time of those honored you by being on time!
Should I ask a family or friend to perform my ceremony? This is an initial thought in some cases, but most couples want their family and friends to enjoy their wedding, not be working (putting together the content and delivering it while be stared at by everyone can add stress for the bride, groom and that family/friend). There’s numerous moving parts to a ceremony, an experienced professional Minister/Officiant will orchestrate all of the details and know how to handle any “situations” that arise.
Do I have to repeat my vows? Nope. Some individuals are scared to speak at all in front of anyone so a simple “I do” or “I will” is fine. I have multiple options I share with you.
Should I have a rehearsal. If you will have attendants, music, and various elements in your ceremony, a rehearsal is beneficial. Having a rehearsal with an experienced wedding officiant ensures you have a smooth wedding ceremony. (If you have an experienced planner that coordinates rehearsals, do not pay for two people to show up).
Can my mom give me away? Yes. This is your wedding you can do what will make you happy. Sometimes brides have lost their dad either to death or divorce causing undue stress on their wedding day. Some brides opt for a brother or uncle or even a friend to give them away and this is completely appropriate. It is also completely appropriate to have your mother give you away…what a precious moment for a mother to give her daughter to the one who will love and take care her for the rest of her days.
What do we “have to do” during our ceremony? You must both confirm you wish to marry the other and someone authorized to perform the ceremony must pronounce you. EVERYTHING else is optional and can be done the way you want it.
What do Officiants charge? Rates can vary greatly for Officiants/Ministers. TheKnot has an article that addresses this question: “Civil Wedding Officiant Fees – Hiring a civil officiant is the most similar to hiring any of your other pros. They’ll give a price or quote that’s standard for their services. A standard fee for a wedding officiant usually ranges from $500 to $800. Some civil officiants charge more for add-ons such as custom ceremony scripts, premarital counseling and/or a rehearsal.” Our rates are below the “standard fee”.
Should we tip the Officiant? Again, TheKnot and many other sites address this: “Tipping a Civil Wedding Officiant – Just like with your other pros, tipping your wedding officiant is optional—but expected. Typically, $50 to $100 is standard, and you can give it to your officiant when you pay them in full just before or after the ceremony.”
We aren’t very religious but our parents are; do we have to pray? While you don’t have to pray, it is a respectful gesture to your parents and encouraged as a peace-offering.
Can you incorporate our cultural traditions? Yes, share with me what you would like to include and I will help you work it into your ceremony. I have included German, Irish, Egyptian, Jewish and other traditions in ceremonies and it adds a beautiful personal touch to your ceremony.
Can we keep our marriage license? No. I am liable for turning it in, however I can supply you with a copy for needs like honeymoon or buying a home. We generally file your marriage license the next business day and the County Clerk generally returns it within 30 days.
We have a family member who can very bossy and we are worried they will try to take over the rehearsal. Can you help us? Yes. I am happy to play “bad guy” to protect your wishes. Because you and I cover everything extensively before the rehearsal it makes it easy to state the way things are going to be done.
What will you wear? I have dressed in linen pants and white linen shirt, western/cowboy (including boots and hat), converse shoes, casual wear, and many traditional suits, ties and shoes in various colors to blend in with your wedding party.
Remember, this is your day about your love story. Think of the traditional wedding ceremony as a guide, not a rule. Your officiant should support this.