Photo by Charles Ward

Wedding season is upon us

One of my favorite things to do is to officiate at the wedding of a couple in love.  It can often be easy to get caught up in all the details of your wedding day that you forget about the most important part - the ceremony.  After all, this is what makes you married, not all the other frills that couples tend to book early and spend money on.

While you can often find a judge or justice of the peace to perform your ceremony for $50-$100, you should expect to pay a basic fee of  $200-$500 for an experienced wedding officiant.  The right officiant can bring calm to your special day and craft a meaningful and memorable ceremony that you and your guests will never forget.

An experienced officiant will take the time to get to know you and will find out what you want for your perfect ceremony.  They will work with you to discover what rituals and traditions you want to include, whether or not you will be writing your own vows, whether or not both of you are exchanging rings.  A good wedding officiant is able to help you calmly make decisions about your ceremony and can guide you if there are any sensitive issues with your families about the marriage.

When you initially meet with an officiant, this is the time to decide whether you feel they are the right match for you.  Are you comfortable talking to them?  Are they listening to what you are saying?  Will they honor rituals and traditions that you want to include in your ceremony?  Will they be available to you if you have questions?

Once you have hired an officiant, you will want to work with them to craft a personal and meaningful ceremony.  The officiant will guide you through and make suggestions for various parts of the ceremony from the welcome, vows, rings, other rituals, and closing.  A good officiant can offer suggestions for readings and rituals that will make your ceremony unique and memorable.

Most wedding officiants will charge a flat fee for their services.  The fee will increase with the distance they have to travel to get to your ceremony.  You will also be responsible for covering any costs associated with travel to and from your wedding (flight/mileage, lodging, food, ground transportation, parking, etc.).  Most officiants will charge an additional small fee to be present at your rehearsal. 

After the wedding, the officiant is responsible for filing all the paperwork that has been signed at the wedding which makes your marriage legal.

Remember, the wedding officiant is the one who makes you legally married.  They are an important part of your wedding.  Book them early and make sure you feel comfortable with them.  A good wedding officiant is worth every penny.

"My job as a Rabbi is to bring people closer to be an extension of be with people in their happiness and in their sadness."