While much of the wedding planning process focuses on the reception, don't forget that your ceremony is the reason behind the big party! Before the big day, you will meet with your officiant or potential officiants to discuss the wedding ceremony and any pre-ceremony requirements.
Discover whether the officiant is open to your ideas, and ultimately decide if the three of you want to work together. Here are the questions you must ask:
◾Are there any pre-wedding requirements, such as counseling?
◾What is the ceremony fee? Is the fee a donation?
◾Is the officiant open to any personal ideas for ceremony? For instance, is he or she open to non-secular vows, readings or songs?
◾Will the officiant give a sermon or a speech?
◾Will you have input in the ceremony, and will you be allowed to review the sermon or speech beforehand?
◾If you don't already have a ceremony site, can the officiant make any recommendations?
◾If the officiant is the site officiant, are there any ceremony site restrictions such as flash photography, videography, music, dress code, décor, tossing items?
◾What items does the ceremony site/officiant provide, and what must you bring yourself? (pews, isle runners, microphone, etc.)
◾What will the officiant wear?
◾What time will he/she be available for the rehearsal?
◾Should you bring your marriage license to the ceremony, or will you sign it beforehand?
Important Things to Consider
Demeanor - His or her personal demeanor should reflect the mood you envision for your wedding. Some ceremony officiants may be light and jovial - often interjecting sermons or speeches with bits of humor, while some have a more formal and solemn style.
If you don't already have a relationship with this person -consider whether you like his/her style and whether you would enjoy working with this person. Remember - your ceremony officiant performs the most important service at the wedding. He or she is the one who will officially pronounce you man and wife, which is the sole reason for the big event in the first place (don't lose sight of this!). You should feel comfortable inviting this person to share such an intimate moment in your life.
Your officiant can offer guidance along the way, spiritual and non-spiritual, such as resolving family conflicts etc. Don't hesitate to speak with your officiant regarding these personal matters.
Also consider inviting your officiant to your rehearsal dinner as well. It's a nice gesture that will be appreciated, and if your family does not already have a relationship with your officiant - this is a great way to introduce everyone.
For more ideas and inspiration for your ceremony, visit the complete wedding ceremony planning guide at Elegala.com - Elegant Galas Made Simple.
Cori Russell is editor for Elegala.com and Gala Weddings Magazine. Elegala.com is a comprehensive wedding planning resource with a national directory of wedding venues and services, along with articles, expert advice, checklists and photo galleries to lead brides through every step of the planning process.