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. In other words, once you’ve nailed down your wedding date, you need to begin hiring professional wedding vendors that have certain skills that require them to be involved in your BIG day - specifically photographers, coordinators, officiants, etc. Why? Because just like you, other couples will either be looking, or are currently looking for the same vendors as you. And if they have amazing reviews and ratings, or come highly- recommended by someone else, you’ll have to compete with those other couples for those exact same vendors. And if the other bride & groom are really organized, they may end up booking the same vendors you want before you’ve even had a chance to contact them. (For example: I have couples now who have booked me almost 18 months out!)
In most of the country, including right here in the Northwest, top talented vendors book a year, or more in advance. Some top photographers I know start receiving calls over a year in advance to book specific wedding dates. The same goes for most vendors where you’re relying on the person whose talents, and personality you’ve either connected with, or fell in love with, them and their vision for your wedding. You see, the difference between me and a baker, is I can only do one wedding at a specific time, whereas a baker may be able to do several wedding cakes and serve several couples at the same time, without having to actually attend 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.