7 Must-Ask Questions for Your Wedding Officiant

Don't sign on the dotted line until you've asked a potential officiant these important questions.
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
Jessica Estrada
Jessica Estrada - The Knot Contributor.
Jessica Estrada
The Knot Contributor
  • Jessica contributes wedding planning, wedding etiquette and relationship content to The Knot.
  • She also covers lifestyle and wellness topics for print and digital publications such Refinery29, Bustle, Well + Good, Cosmopolitan, Byrdie, The Zoe Report, The Cut and more.
  • Jessica has a journalism degree from Cal State University, Northridge and is certified as a life and success coach.
Updated Sep 27, 2021

Your wedding ceremony is the most memorable part of your big day, so it's crucial to hire an officiant who understands you and your partner, and whose energy resonates with you both.

To support you through this important part of the wedding planning process, we compiled a list of questions to ask wedding officiants before booking them. Below, you'll find everything you need to get started.

1. What do you do as an officiant?

If you're unfamiliar with what officiants do and their overall role during a wedding ceremony, this is a good first question to start with.

There are many different types of officiants, including life-cycle celebrants, professional wedding officiants, religious leaders, civil servants, and family members or friends.

Generally, an officiant's scope of service includes preparing a wedding ceremony according to the couple's specifications; dressing for and traveling to the wedding venue; performing the ceremony on the wedding day; and completing the legal paperwork and returning it to the issuing courthouse, says Alisa Tongg, a certified life-cycle celebrant and creator of Wedding Ceremony Master Class. Some officiants may also participate in rehearsals and provide a backup officiant to stand in if for whatever reason they are unable to, she says.

2. Tell us about your experience as an officiant.

Don't be afraid to ask a potential officiant about their credentials and past experience. How many years have they been officiating weddings? How many ceremonies have they officiated, and what types of weddings were they?

Tongg says asking an officiant to see a video of someone else's ceremony is not recommended, as they are kept confidential just like you'd like your wedding ceremony to be should you end up hiring them. You can, however, ask for testimonials from other couples. Tongg also suggests browsing the officiant's website and social media pages to get a good feel for their style, what type of clothing they wear when they're officiating, and how people respond to their presence.

3. What's your process for creating a wedding ceremony?

Next, Tongg recommends asking a potential officiant about their process for creating a wedding ceremony. This question will cover various other subtopics, including how the officiant gets to know the couple; if they create a personalized ceremony or use a standard template; whether or not the couple will have input in what they say during the ceremony; and whether they can help you write your own vows.

Tongg notes that many professional wedding officiants will have the couple fill out a questionnaire asking about themselves, their families, how they met, and their hopes for the future. The officiant will then use these answers as a starting point in creating a custom ceremony. Some officiants may also want to meet with the couple before the wedding.

Religious officiants may also require premarital counseling, Tongg says. In addition, civil servants typically don't prepare custom ceremonies, so their process is simpler and more focused on legalities.

4. Are you able to perform rituals that are important to us?

Whether you decide to have a nondenominational wedding ceremony or an interfaith or intercultural wedding ceremony, this is an important question to ask. If you and your soon-to-be spouse want to incorporate specific cultural or religious rituals into your wedding ceremony—such as breaking the glass, exchanging garlands or leis, or saying prayers—Tongg says you'll want to ensure your officiant can properly administer those rites and lead the rituals authentically.

5. How long are your wedding ceremonies?

Every couple is different. Some may want a quick ceremony, while others may want to savor the experience and really tell their whole love story. Tongg recommends asking the officiant this question to ensure that their style matches your vision and will go well with your wedding day timeline.

As a general rule of thumb, she says most modern wedding venues allot about 30–45 minutes for the ceremony. "A ceremony that runs 25–30 minutes is ideal for guest enjoyment, and comfort for the couple and the wedding party, who most likely are standing," Tongg says.

6. What are your fees?

Discussing cost is an important part of the conversation. Fees will vary depending on the officiant. According to Tongg, professional officiant fees range between $800–$2,200. Religious leader fees start at $500, while fees for civil servants, such as mayors or judges, typically range from $250–$400.

Be sure to ask about any additional fees, such as travel or meal fees. Also, make sure you look over the proposed contract thoroughly and ask any and all questions you may have.

7. Do you meet the legal requirements for an officiant in our state?

Ask your potential officiant this question to avoid any issues down the line.

"Each state has different laws about when and where couples can apply, how long the marriage license is good for once issued, where the license can be physically used, and who is recognized by that state to sign the legal paperwork," Tongg says. She recommends looking at the requirements for authorized officiants in the state where you're saying "I do" just to make sure your officiant is included.

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