Why Your Wedding Officiant Matters

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

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.

He's Got the Power

In the most practical terms possible, you want to be 100 percent sure that your wedding officiant has what it takes to make your nuptials run smoothly. During your pre-wedding interview, you should consider asking him a few standard questions to get a feel for his personal style and organizational skills. For example, how long has he been officiating these blessed events? Everyone has to start somewhere, but I'd be hesitant to plop a first-timer at the end of the aisle for fear that he'd forget his lines or even the names of the happy couple. Also, since you're a reasonable gal and you know that emergencies crop up from time to time, it wouldn't hurt to find out how he'd handle a situation that would require him to bail at the last minute. And if your officiant is signing a marriage certificate, make sure he's been ordained with the power to do so.

Attend your meetings armed with these and other smart questions. Bear in mind that it's vitally important for your personalities to be complemented by the officiant, so if he's the kind to pop too many jokes while you're a by-the-script kind of bride, you should continue the interviews until you find the perfect match.

He's the Ring Master

Your wedding officiant runs the ceremony -- kind of like a ring master.
Your wedding officiant runs the ceremony -- kind of like a ring master.
Hemera/Thinkstock

Occasionally, men and women who share similar religious beliefs and already have strong ties to a particular church tend to pair up. For the rest of us, juggling spiritual differences between families and finding an officiant who "gets" you and your fiancé can be a bit tricky.

Avoid awkward wedding-day snafus by spending some quality time with a prospective or chosen officiant. Discuss bluntly what your religion means to you and your fiancé and how you see it playing out over the duration of your lives together. Be sure to include your differences of opinion and beliefs, since most men and women of the cloth are trained to help couples work through fundamental spiritual issues. You should also provide him with some background into your relationship so that his sermon will speak more personally to you and your family. If you've ever tried speaking publicly on a topic you know little about, you'll understand how knowing your relationship history will make it easier for him to deliver a moving speech. So, give him something to work with! A seasoned officiant will be able to deftly weave your personal anecdotes in with your chosen theme or scripture at your nuptials, if he has the right tools to work with.

If you're having a secular ceremony, you'll still want to seek an officiant who's willing to get to know you. He can help you select passages of literature or songs to express your commitment and emotions. Asking a friend or relative who's ordained to officiate at your wedding can make the event that much more meaningful and intimate, so bear this in mind if your search isn't leading you anywhere.

He Could Be Your Tour Guide Through Life

With a little bit of luck and hard work, your marriage will thrive for years to come. It's that much more important for you and your hubby-to-be to feel confident in your choice of officiant if you hope that he'll evolve into a spiritual guide or a mentor throughout your relationship.

Few people manage to navigate life's rocky waters without a few bumps along the way, whether they're directly related to your marriage or caused by other major life events. If you choose carefully, your wedding officiant has the potential to assist you through dark times and help you more fully embrace your partner's strengths and gifts. He'll possess this insight because he clearly knows where you came from and where you hope to go -- together.

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