Wondering how to choose a wedding officiant? There are many options out there…and if you’re not a member of a church or other religious organization (or won’t be getting married in a church setting), it’s up to you to find someone to marry you.

To help you out, we recently connected with Tricia Stehle of Boat Town Weddings; a licensed (and popular!) Michigan-based officiant, she has some great insight into this topic! Read on…

One of the questions I am frequently asked is how to choose a wedding officiant.

Maybe a better question is: What makes a good wedding officiant?

In other words, how do you know that the officiant you choose is right for you? And furthermore, will this person perform a ceremony that is destined to leave you and your guests with wonderful memories and – dare I say – tears (of happiness)?

That’s a lot to consider – so here is my short version of what you should look for:

  1. They will NEVER do a ceremony that goes against the grain of who you are (for example, if you are not religious, they won’t insist on a religious ceremony or chastise you for your beliefs).
  2. They provide a contract. Why would you choose someone who doesn’t have things in writing? (Believe me, it happens – and you would not believe the horror stories I have heard.) Just because they are friendly, doesn’t mean you can trust them! Get everything they plan to do for the ceremony (and beyond) in writing.
  3. They have a back-up plan…as in, a back-up officiant. Listen: life happens. People get sick, flat tires happen on the way to the ceremony…the list goes on. I always tell people that I have 3 backup officiants, as well as my husband (who is also ordained). Do I want to be on my death bed? Nope. Do I want to get a flat tire? Nope. But things do happen, and you can’t predict them. This is your day, so you can’t afford NOT to be prepared! Don’t be afraid to ask your officiant.
  4. They understand marriage licensing requirements. Ask yourself this question: When you got your driver’s license, did the Secretary of State say, “You are super awesome and so sweet! Your driving license is granted!” No…you went through a process – and marriage licensing is a process. At the very least, your officiant should know WHEN to apply, where, and how long the license is valid – and furthermore, what to do AFTER the ceremony. (That is the important part!)
  5. They can roll with the unexpected. Some prime examples: I have had a groom faint on me (all 275 pounds of him!), a ring bearer drop the rings in a pond, a groom drop his bride’s ring in the grass, a no-show on a photographer, a wedding that started two hours late, marriage licenses forgotten…I could go on and on. You want to know that they can handle it and won’t be rattled. No wedding is 100% perfect! Your officiant needs to expect the unexpected.
  6. I could go on and on with this ( I do plan to write a book sometime!) but I will wrap up with these FINAL things rolled in together to look for in a good officiant: A good speaking voice (crucial!); humility – a willingness to admit that they don’t know everything and ask questions when needed; and understanding that they are human, just like you.

Your wedding is just that – a wedding; it’s not the marriage. No one can guarantee a perfect day…but when you know how to choose a wedding officiant that’s right for you, he or she can make all the difference in helping your big day to run smoothly!


What are some of the great wedding-day moments to get on video before your wedding officiant makes it official? Check out our Wedding Videography Checklist: Before the Ceremony!

Ready to capture your wedding day in the way (and budget) that’s just right for you? Check out Weddeo’s wedding videography packages and pricing!

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