We get this question a lot… ”Why are you charging us an officiant fee when my Aunt will do it for us for free?”
Let us start this conversation with “what is a wedding officiant?” According to Weddingoffiants.com, the term “officiant” refers to “anyone who performs a wedding ceremony, from experienced religious priests, pastors, rabbis, etc., to professional ministers and celebrants who perform wedding ceremonies for a living, all the way to someone’s random friend or relative who performs a single wedding ceremony one time and never does it again.”
So, because this term is so broad, you, as a couple, need to figure out what type of officiant you are looking for. To have “Uncle Joe or “Aunt Lucy” do your ceremony is terrific, but there are some things a couple needs to look out for. They need to a) be sure it is legal in their state for this type of ceremony and b) make sure all the legalities are met within your state and county because each state and county is different. What may be legal in one county may not be legal in another (and there are many rules and regulations that need to be followed within each.)
We at Ceremonies by Lori are considered a “professional wedding officiant” because we solicit business from the public to perform marriage ceremonies for a fee. Our fees are based on quite a few things. We base our prices on our time and experience, among other things. Lori meets with every couple for an initial consultation, and then based on the package the couple chooses, Lori writes a semi or fully-customized wedding ceremony for the couple. That takes time…time to write the ceremony, edit the ceremony, send drafts to the couple, another meeting, another draft, etc. You see where we are going with this.
Once the ceremony is written and approved by the couple, we then attend the wedding ceremony, sometimes the rehearsal the day before, sign the marriage license, return the license to the Marriage License Bureau, the Register of Wills Office, or whatever the licensing entity is in your state, follow up to be sure said license is appropriately recorded and follow up with the couple. This all takes time. Now all of this is not to say that having a family member or friend is not great (not to mention cost-effective for the couple) but having a professional officiant assures that everything is done correctly and legally within the guidelines that we are bound by in each state.
Hope this answers some of the questions. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss this in more detail. We look forward to hearing from all of our past, present, and future couples.