Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10 Cost Savings Tips For Hiring a Wedding Officiant

Many wedding officiants are independent ministers or civil officiants who run their own affairs entirely. This including setting their fees and what is included and what's not included in their fee. Some will run a very simple ceremony with not much to it, others will run a very elaborate ceremony which include vows, candle lighting, readings, and inspirational sermons and speeches and helps the couple out with a wedding rehearsal. It is very important to effectively interview officiants to understand what their fees are and what services are included. Here are some tips for when you are hiring an officiant.

Tip 1 - Hire An Officiant From Your House of Worship
Very often, your best deal is using the house of worship you grew up with. You know the church, temple, or chapel well. You know the officiant well and the officiant knows you well. Very often the officiant does the service for free or asks for a nominal fee, or gives you a big discount because you are a member or tells you to make an extra donation to the church. He/she knows you and tends to give a personal experience like they are part of the family. They also give a little more help to you in planning your wedding with advice and help you with planning your wedding program and helping with decorations.

Tip 2 - Hire a Justice of the Peace
Another officiant that tends not to be very expensive is a Justice of the Peace. A Justice of the Peace has many duties and one of their duties is to perform civil marriages. A Justice of the Peace is an appointed judicial official who handles many kinds of legal issues. Most are lawyers or have a law or judicial background. Their duties vary state by state. Generally besides marriages they preside over small claims courts, criminal courts, are involved in swearing in governmental officials, they issue warrants for bad checks, speeding, and search warrants. Their duties include hearing depositions, taking testimony under oath, witness legal oaths and affirmations and can notarize documents.

Tip 3 - Hire a Wedding Notary
A professional wedding notary have a legal license to perform weddings. In certain states they are allowed to perform wedding just as judges, justices of the peace, ministers, pastors, or rabbis. Some notaries perform weddings for a living and are involved with performing ceremonies, meeting with couples, reviewing what's to be included in the ceremony. Wedding notaries can perform civil, secular, or non-denominational ceremony but generally don't perform religious ceremonies. Make sure you check out their license. Their fees tend to be very reasonable.

Tip 4 - Officiants Who Specialize in Beaches or Lakes
Some wedding officiants specialize in beach or lake venues. Because there is not much overhead, they tend to have reasonable fees. Usually these officiants push for weddings near sunrise or sunset when the sun so the couple and wedding guests don't get too impacted by the weather, you don't want sun stroke or sun burn. Some of these officiants have special connections with vendors, can help you arrange for a wedding tent and caterer, have connections with a bed and breakfast, and often has arrangements with a wedding cake baker and help with a wedding bouquet with a wedding florist. These officiants beside the beach or lake are willing to officiate wedding in someone's backyard, someone's garden, a farm, a ranch house, ballroom, banquet hall, restaurant, and smaller hotels. They usually advertise their services on their own website and state some of the service they provide.

Tip 5 - Hire A Destination Officiant
There are a number of destination officiants that offer great deals. You might think of having your wedding in Las Vegas which is the top destination for weddings with about 120,000 wedding a year. Because of the competition of the amount of officiants to choose from, many officiants don't charge much for weddings and there are many little chapels. Shop around for a great deal. You also might consider having your wedding at a lesser known resort and have a destination wedding. You often can find an officiant that doesn't charge very much. Certain companies such as can help you plan your wedding and find an inexpensive wedding officiant. Just be sure to visit the location and meet your officiant before your wedding and learn the local requirements, know the documents you will need, and learn a little bit about the local customs.

Tip 6 - Find A Relative or Friend to Officiate
Couples on a budget might consider asking a relative or friend to officiate their wedding. Their are a few places such as the Universal Life Church which offers ordination online and can get credentials processed and emailed within a matter of days. Some states also offer a "Deputy for a Day Program". There are regulations of these programs state by state. Couples who are interested to go through this route should check with their county clerks office or marriage license bureau well ahead of time to see what needs to be done for their marriage to be legal. Make sure the relative or friend is comfortable speaking in front of a large audience, and work with him/her to create an exciting wedding program with a few wedding rehearsals. Use your judgement, having a relative or friend officiate your wedding can work out great or be a disaster, it takes a person with the right type of personality.

Tip 7 - See the Officiant in Action Before Booking
There are many officiants out there that can marry you. However, just because they are a wedding officiant does not mean they run a good wedding ceremony. A good wedding officiant can put a good story together that inspires and excites the wedding couple and the wedding guests and has all the congregation listening. If you aren't familiar with your wedding officiant, either see them live or try to get a video of them officiating another wedding. Also get referrals from other wedding couples that were married by him/her.

Tip 8 - Look for a Local Wedding Officiant
To find the best deal look for officiants at smaller churches and chapels. Make sure you draw up a contract with all your terms and considerations and put them in writing, this saves you from the chance of a cancellation. If the distance is far, the officiant may opt for an invitation which requires less travel. Finding an officiant nearby also saves in having to pay the officiant out in travel costs. Sign up for services you want, don't sign up for an upgrade if it doesn't interest you such as a candle lighting ceremony, stating wedding vows, giving a blessing, or having additional readings. Also ask the officiant about their wedding day schedule, do they have a busy schedule covering other weddings and/or events or would their day be devoted to your wedding. The time of year is also important for some wedding officiants, they may charge more during the busy wedding season, charging higher prices to officiate weddings for May and June and again for weddings around New Years. Find local officiates in wedding directories on the internet, search for them in search engines, contact local churches and wedding chapels, check with family or friends, or look for them in the yellow pages.

Tip 9 - Have a Conversation with the Officiant
If your budget is tight, ask your officiant if he/she can recommend any wedding vendors. Many times the officiant is one of the first people a wedding couple talks to after getting engaged. The officiant often has a lot of connections, wedding vendors ask them to send wedding couples their way, the officiant also knows many wedding vendors from their church, they also know wedding florists, church decorators, and rental service companies that make deliveries to their house of worship. They also meet wedding vendors when they get invited to wedding receptions. They also know of banquet halls to have wedding receptions in that the general public might not know of and of venues that are not readily advertised. The officiant by offering referrals to the business, often can get the wedding couple a discount.

Tip 10 - Use an Officiant that is Connected to a Venue
Very often a venue has an officiant that can be part of the venue contract, usually the officiant can be contracted at a pretty good price from the bundling of services and the officiant is willing to do a lower price allowing them to get steady business. Some examples of this arrangement. A yacht captain at sea or on a lake or a cruise captain might also be a judge, a justice of the peace, a minister, or a recognized officiant such as a notary public. If you get married at sea you need to check with the local jurisdictions. For some cruise lines, they will require that once you are in port, you will need to leave the ship, swear before a judge that everything is correct with the prepared paper work, then you can go back to the ship for your ceremony. Also hotels, resorts, restaurants, banquet halls, and ballrooms have contracted officiants on a preferred list that are allowed to do weddings at the venue with bundled pricing. Many of these venues have a ceremony location built and beautifully designed for weddings.

As for pricing for weddings can be very varied. Sometimes a wedding at your house of worship can be free or at a nominal fee or you may be asked to make an extra donation to the horse of worship. Officiants may charge anywhere from $35 to $1500. The median price is around $200-$250. Shop around for an inspirational wedding officiant, see them in action and find one that will fit your budget.

See you on the other side!

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