Choosing a professional officiant to perform your wedding ceremony is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in planning a wedding – the ceremony is your guests’ first impression of the event you’ve planned and sets the tone for everything else that comes afterward. A boring, lackluster ceremony may leave your guests dreading your potentially boring, lackluster reception; even worse, an inexperienced, unprofessional officiant can produce cringe-worthy moments at the beginning of your big day and lead your guests to expect the rest of your wedding day to be awkward or embarrassing as well. Conversely, a well-crafted and expertly delivered ceremony can create a magical, sentimental atmostphere for you and all of your guests, which can carry through to the rest of your special day.
While disappointing or embarrassing scenarios are far more likely to occur when using a “friend” or an inexperienced amateur officiant, there are fairly simple ways to find an outstanding professional officiant in your area with experience, poise, and talent. Here are the top ways to find a wedding officiant, minister or celebrant for your wedding ceremony:
Free Classified Sites
While it may be tempting to treat your wedding the same way you might treat replacing your bathroom tile, there is a big difference between finding professional wedding vendors and, say, finding a handyman. Free classified sites such as Craigslist are full of people soliciting couples for all types of services for their wedding – DJs, photographers, officiants, you name it – but most experienced wedding professionals stay clear of sites like this. Because free classified sites don’t make any differentiation between professional wedding vendors and completely inexperienced people trying to make a “quick buck” doing weddings, good wedding vendors typically don’t waste their time on sites like these.
Craigslist may be a perfectly appropriate place to find a landscaper or any other service where the quality of their work doesn’t really matter, but the people youll find soliciting wedding bookings there are typically not established, experienced professionals. Instead, the “vendors” you’ll find on these types of sites are most often people who are completely new to the wedding industry and don’t have experience, a solid reputation, or an established business. This is the reason for so many of the horror stories like “Craigslist Minister Steals Wedding Gifts” that seem to pop up every year – there is nothing stopping any random person from posing as a wedding professional and scamming people on a free classified site because it costs them nothing to do it.
Lead Referral Services
While free classified sites like Craigslist may be the sketchiest place to search for wedding vendors, lead referral services such as Respond.com and Thumbtack attract a similar subsection of people looking to book more “gigs”. Lead referral services promise to “match” engaged couples with local wedding professionals, but most high-quality, experienced wedding professionals do not advertise on sites that focus on the vendors offering the lowest possible price for their services or that charge a fee for bookings they receive through the site. More often, the “businesses” that participate in lead referral services are people who are new to the wedding industry and are trying to “cut their teeth” with low-cost bookings to gain experience. Is that the kind of business you should be considering using for your wedding, especially your ceremony? Only you can decide that for yourself, but it’s important to note that the “choices” you’ll find on those type of sites often won’t include established, experienced wedding professionals because high-quality wedding vendors don’t normally maintain a listing on those type of sites.
Referrals from Other Wedding Professionals
A good place to turn to for potential wedding officiants to consider for your ceremony is the other vendors you’ve hired for your wedding. Assuming you’ve hired high-quality, experienced professionals for services like photography, your other wedding vendors may have suggestions for good local wedding officiants for you to interview. The top wedding professionals in any area will typically work together several times each year, and will normally recommend other professionals with a similar level of quality. You’ll still need to do your own research and interview anyone you consider hiring, but getting referrals from your other vendors is a great place to get started on your search.
Online Wedding Message Boards
Participating in online forums and message boards about your wedding can be fun and exciting, and everyone loves giving other people advice. Sharing the experience of planning your wedding with other couples online can be really helpful, and it’s common for vendor referrals to be passed around as well. You may find these recommendations to be helpful when trying to find a wedding officiant, but keep in mind that most people participating in online wedding forums and message boards haven’t actually had their wedding yet and therefore don’t know from experience whether they’ve made good vendor choices or not. Similarly, message boards are typically full of couples planning all types of weddings, from backyard barbecues to $100K blowouts. Every couple wants to refer the vendors they’ve chosen, but the officiant that’s right for a backyard wedding may not be the right choice for an elegant black-tie ceremony with 250 guests. Keep in mind that not all wedding professionals are the same, and not all weddings are the same either – consider the recommendations of couples planning a wedding like yours and you may get some good leads to follow.
Local and national wedding publications used to be the only way that wedding businesses could advertise their services, until the internet changed everything. Several major wedding magazines went out of business in the mid-2000s, and those who have survived have done so by increasing their presence on the web. While wedding magazines can be great for finding pictures of dresses or inspiration for your wedding decor, using magazine advertisements to find your wedding vendors can be a mixed bag. Large wedding companies with huge advertising budgets normally dominate the ad space in wedding magazines, while smaller companies normally concentrate on advertising online. Wedding magazines can be a fun place to look, but simply be aware that only a very small subset of wedding vendors will choose (or can afford) to pay thousands of dollars for magazine ads several times each year.
Wedding Directory Sites
There are only a handful of top-level wedding directory websites, and this is where you will normally find the high-quality wedding vendors in your area. Blog sites such as Style Me Pretty will often have a vendor directory component as well, which can be a good place to start. Large-scale wedding sites such as WeddingWire, The Knot, and Brides.com are often the best-known and most used of all the wedding websites online, and their directories often have a large number of vendors at all levels of quality. Finally, vendor-specific directories like WeddingOfficiants.com can help you find local vendors in specific categories, and will typically have a deeper catalog of vendors depending on the area.
Because major wedding directory websites charge wedding vendors each month to maintain their listing, they will typically have the most up-to-date catalog of local vendors and will normally attract the best vendors in each area. The fact that each vendor needs to pay for advertising also helps keep low-quality and inexperienced wedding vendors from being listed on directory websites – typically, only established businesses can afford to pay for recurring listings, especially on multiple websites. These are often the best places to find vendors in your area. You’ll still need to do your own research, visit each vendor’s website, and interview them, but directory websites make it much easier to find the professionals you should be considering for your wedding.
Find a Wedding Officiant
There are many different places to search when trying to find a local wedding officiant for your ceremony, but following this advice will get you started in the right direction. Here at WeddingOfficiants.com, we’ve been matching engaged couples with high-quality local wedding officiants, ministers, celebrants, priests, pastors, rabbis, and justices of the peace since 1999. If you’re ready to search for wedding officiants in your area, please take a moment and search our directory now!