Well, you have thought of everything else for your wedding but maybe the most important part. Who is going to lead you through your wedding vows? Keep in mind that they will have a huge influence on the tone and elements of your ceremony. There are a few things to consider before you start your search. Not the least of which is to make sure whoever performs your ceremony is legally able to marry you in your state. This will serve as a short guide in terms of what to look for in your officiant.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you are going to have a religious or civil ceremony. Keep in mind that a religious ceremony is recognized by the state and by the affiliated religion. A civil ceremony is usually performed by someone who has been certified to do so. For instance, a county clerk, justice of the peace, or mayor. One place you can get the names of potential officiants is via a wedding planner. Another place is possibly your own church if you have one. Even a friend's wedding that you possibly enjoyed might be a potential reference.
When you meet with a potential officiant, ask about their approach to a wedding ceremony. What is the process of events that they like to perform? Do they give a speech to start the ceremony? How much input can you have on the order of events or even what is said? What if you and your fiancé want to write their own vows? Will the officiant allow this and if so, will they help you write them. When discussing money, the amount charged or expected can really vary. If you are having a religious ceremony and you are a member of a congregation, you may not need to pay a fee at all. Sometimes in a case like this, the couple will make a donation or a gift to the pastor or priest or maybe the church as a whole. If you are not a member of the church, the fee can range from $100 to $250. A civil ceremony can cost in the same neighborhood.
Whether you are having a religious or civil ceremony, make sure the officiant you hire has experience. We cannot overstate this, you want the ceremony to natural and not like its just being read robotically. You also want to make sure that the officiant you choose is someone who actually cares about what they are leading you through. There is nothing worse that listening to someone in such an important event sound like they are bored or do a lackluster job as they mumble through the words. Related to this, make sure you pick someone who has some personality. Someone who is upbeat, has a sense of humor, and exudes some life will go a long way in making it more enjoyable for you.
There is something else about hiring an experience officiant that bodes well for you and for your wedding. Someone who has performed weddings for awhile and who has their heart into it will show up on time, will be prepared, and will know how to handle anything unexpected that comes their way. Nothing will be able to distract them even if its something out of the ordinary. And that is a great thing for you and for your guests. Also, they might be able to help you with the overall flow of your ceremony. If there really experienced, they have probably seen it all and they will know what works and what doesn't work. But no matter who you get to be your officiant, we recommend that you have a contract drawn up and have it signed by both parties. This will protect everyone involved.