Wedding sites are wrong
Would you be surprised if I told you most wedding planning check-list from well know, respected expert sites are wrong about when to hire an officiant? For the most part I believe they put this most crucial hiring in the wrong time-frame. Why do I believe this? Because I’m a professional officiant, and after doing this for over 10 years, I’ve learned a thing or two.
I know, I’m usually not thought of as the “exciting” vendor to hire. Couples love to meet with photographers, after all, you get to see all their beautifully created masterpieces right in front of you. Couples enjoy touring venues to daydream about what their perfect wedding day will look like in the space. Couples adore sitting down and tasting the catering menues. And I, for one, sat with anticipation when my wife and I went cake tasting. Who doesn’t love all that?!
By the time you’ve gone through all of this, and you’ve planned this enormous event, some couples wait until the last minute to start looking for an officiant. Afterall, without us, all it is is a huge party that you’re throwing, and feeding everyone you know.
You see, hiring the officiant shouldn’t be a “back burner” hiring. Meaning, you shouldn’t wait until 2 months before your wedding. In fact, in most cases, you shouldn’t wait 6 months! You actually should be considering your officiant well before the 6 month timeline, especially if you’re getting married during the busy wedding season!
You’re kidding? Really?
I wish what I’ve told you wasn’t true (for the most part). Here’s why: there are brides out there who are very organized. They see the need for an officiant like me, and get ahold of me sometimes 12-18 months in advance. They’ve done their homework, read the reviews, and recognize that once I’m booked for a specific day and time, that’s it! I can’t be in 2 places at once. So they reach out to me, and lock me down before anyone else can.
Just like any vendor and/or service that requires a specific person to perform it, the brides and grooms should be reaching out to those wedding vendors first. What that means is that, once you’ve secured your venue and wedding date, you should place a high priority on hiring any service which requires a specific person or group of people – planner, photographer, videographer, officiant, DJ, band, etc. – and book them as quickly as possible. The reason for this is simple – for services that require a specific person, you are competing with every other couple getting married on your same date for the services of the top wedding professionals in your area. If you wait too long, the best vendors will be booked before you even have a chance to start looking. (I have couples now who have booked me almost 18 months out!)
In most areas, the top talent books about a year in advance for all services. Ask the top photographer in your area, and they’ll be happy to tell you that they start getting calls for dates over a year beforehand. The same goes for any of the services where you are hiring, and relying on, the talent of a specific person to work your wedding. This is different than, say, a cake bakery which might be able to make cakes for several weddings on any given date. They can produce multiple products on your date because they aren’t relying on placing a specific person at your wedding.
Now it’s getting personal!
Also, consider this, officiants may be the most personal hiring you’ll do for your wedding. A professional wedding officiant gets to know the couple, they learn about the couples style and taste. They are actually performing a beautiful ceremony they’ve created for you! You should allow enough time to make sure your personalities match, that the officiant can create something specifically for you, and that you enjoy that person. This is an important, personal hiring.
My personality doesn’t allow me to reach every person. I may be a great fit with one couple, and not a great fit with another. That’s why there’s so many of us out there. What one officiant doesn’t mesh well with, I may be the perfect fit. You need to make sure this person, who is performing something sacred, understands you and your fiancé.
I want the couples I marry to be happy with the ceremony I perform. I want them, and their guest, to love it... to love listening to me. But that can’t be a guarantee if you’re reaching out to me on such short notice. Many couples I’ve married have become great social media friends of mine. I enjoy watching their marriage progress, hearing about them buying a new home, seeing babies born. They wouldn’t reach out to me, if they didn’t feel a personal connection.
Let’s get this party started
I certainly hope you understand where I’m coming from. It’s so disappointing when I have to tell an excited couple that I’m already booked for their date and time. It really does suck! Many times I’ve been booked for a year, and I have to tell them they’re too late.
Put an importance on hiring your officiant. Just like the other vendors that require specific people, officiant hiring should be at the top of your list.
Afterall, the ceremony is the red carpet to the big premiere; it’s the national anthem before the big game; it’s the Christmas Eve before Christmas Day, it’s the prologue before a really great novel, it’s the guitar riff right before Def Leopard starts singing “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, it’s the... well, you get it. Your ceremony is the kickoff to the big celebration. Don’t wait to hire the right person to help you with it, hire your officiant now.