He's pronouncing you husband and wife, and his guidance leading up to the big day is pretty important, too.

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For most people, a wedding is more than just an opportunity to don a beautiful gown and throw a lavish party. In fact, the first dance and bouquet toss take a serious backseat to the reason why you and everyone you know have gathered together in the first place -- the ceremony.

Although the music and floral arrangements are certainly important components of any wedding service, it simply wouldn't be happening without the bride, groom and the officiant. So why do so many couples gloss over the selection of this vital third party in their quest to walk down the aisle? The sheer, unadulterated truth is that your wedding officiant has the ability to make or break your ceremony with his (or her, for that matter) planning skills, professionalism and knowledge of your special relationship.

Keep reading to find out why you should take extra care to choose the ideal officiant for this once-in-a-lifetime event, rather than just the first person who takes your call.