How to interview your Officiant

The best advice I could give to all couples is this; Meet with or talk with as many Officiants as you can to make sure you’re selecting an Officiant that is going to make the ceremony a direct reflection of you. Never settle with anyone and never, ever, base your Officiant by price alone. You can find an Officiant in San Diego and Temecula anywhere from $50 on Craigslist to $800  for the well seasoned professional. Bottom line, the Officiant you select can make or break your wedding day! Just like a DJ, it’s a Wedding day you’ll never forget or a Wedding day you’ll wish no one would remember!

  • Always meet at a neutral location such as a local coffee shop or the like rather than their office or at your home. This allows for less distractions.
  • Never book on the spot at the meeting even if you feel you “click”. At least take a few moments after to talk things over. You may find that one of you really didn’t click. The Officiant will understand and hopefully encourage this! Never feel pressured to sign anything until you talk to each other alone.
  • In addition to talking to each other, research the Officiant after the interview for reviews, comments, ask other vendors what they like or dislike, etc. Note: Please, please, please… never take a referral from a vendor or coordinator as gospel. Some work with each other to promote each other. Take the referral as a suggestion to add this Officiant to your list of those you wish to interview and research.
  • Just like with all wedding vendors, the more effort you put into selecting your Officiant, the better your day will be!
  • Don’t fall for the words “Licensed” or “Certified” in their presentation. In California, there is NO license and NO Certification program an Officiant/Celebrant needs other than their Church Ordination.
  • Lastly, not one Officiant can be the end all be all to all couples. Each Officiant/Celebrant has a different style and personality that needs to match the couple. Any Officiant that says they can do everything is not being truthful to you or themselves.

Questions to ask your Officiant during the interview:

How many wedding ceremonies do you perform each year?
This is a very important question to ask as it simply translates to… Experience! There will be an Oops and an Uh-Oh on your wedding day and someone experienced can handle these issues, large or small, without anyone knowing there was an issue at all, in some cases, not even the bride and groom. Ask what they will do for you that other Officiants don’t and what “Plan B’s” they have. NOTE: Watch out for wedding vendors that are new to being a (online ordained) celebrant but mislead you into believing that their years in their field are the same years as an Officiant. One simply states on their website; “I have 25 years experience as a DJ, Emcee and Officiant”. That would make you think an experienced celebrant  right? Wrong, They have only done 10 ceremonies as an Officiant!

Can we help create the ceremony?
Don’t settle for an Officiant that does “Their” ceremony. Find one that gives you many options OR simply explain what you want or what vision you have for your ceremony. If you’re not religious or spiritual, don’t have that type of ceremony. If you don’t want the rosy, poetic and mushy type ceremony, tell them! The ceremony should be about the two of you!

Do you attend the reception?
Some Officiants expect it and are offended if they don’t see their name on the list OR some even expect you to allow them to bring a guest to keep them company. You need to know this for the reception headcount and is an unexpected and substantial cost to most couples.

Do you attend the rehearsal?
Many coordinators or on-site venue planners handle the rehearsal while some Officiants demand they do it without any interference from the coordinator. Some include this service in their fee while others charge an additional fee. A great reason to ask.

What do you wear?
Some Officiants can dress very formal while others dress very casual, some wear religious robes when your ceremony may be non-religious. Others wear advertising…. Ask! If you are having a themed wedding, ask if they will participate.

How much time do you book between weddings?
Another sad fact is; many Officiants overbook their day. What will your Officiant do to prevent this? Do they allow extra time between ceremonies in case of traffic issues? What if the ceremony ahead of your starts or runs late? Do you build in extra time? And lastly, have you ever been late and if so, how many times? There are horror stories of Officiants that have been up to an hour late to a wedding and this should never…EVER…happen. In addition; what if your ceremony starts late, will they leave?

Is this all you do?
Some Officiants are in this industry just for the money and also perform others tasks to take a bigger piece of the gold filled wedding cake. D-Jays are also online ordained Officiants; photographers are also caterers; florists are also coordinators; invitation makers are also photographers; etc. How can anyone give you 100% on one of your most important and special days if they are doing two jobs? How will this look to your guests when the Officiant leaves the altar and then jumps over and becomes your D-Jay? How serious was your ceremony?

As with any Wedding vendor, the costs associated with your Officiant will be based on the usual factors: Experience, location, travel, special ceremony needs, etc. Make sure you get the total costs up front and in writing. Why would they charge you for travel? Ask  if there are additional fees so not to be shocked later. Sadly, there are Officiants that charge a fee (One $250) if the ceremony starts 16 minutes late, can you imagine? Others charge for travel time and for filing your license. Simply ask and get it in writing!

Working with other wedding vendors
Some Officiants are set in their way of doing things so ask if they have restrictions. It’s better to find out at your first meeting rather than be shocked at your ceremony!

Pressure to book
Never feel pressured to book your Officiant at your first meeting. Some Officiants lead you to believe they will book quickly and you must book right then and there. At least take the time to drive home and speak with each other about the interview and the Officiant. Even if the three of you “click”, take the time.

Will you personally be performing my ceremony?
Some independent wedding celebrants simply run a referral company. They handle the interview with the two of you only to sub contract a far less experienced Officiant and send them to you on your wedding day…. SURPRISE! Some are from out of the area that simply have a local number and website. After you book their services they simply call around the area and sub contract a local Officiant that charges far less and pockets the difference for their time. Trust me, I get the calls! Here’s a horror story for you… A couple meets with 4 different Officiants, one was so not for them, they actually called the meeting short. On their wedding day, because they had actually hired a referral service and not the Officiant they met with, the one that they disliked the most showed up to their wedding! To add insult to injury, they paid more going with the Officiant they wanted than the guy that showed up.