Finding the Best Officiant or Minister
Searching for the best officiant to marry you does matters. Regardless of whether your wedding is an intimate elopement style wedding, or a large traditional wedding, take time to select an officiant that will give thoughtful and respectful attention to your ceremony and contribute to a great start to your wedding day.
We have assembled questions and tips for selecting the perfect officiant. Remember – it is a very profound and personal decision when choosing an officiant. This person stands between the two of you for the most important aspect of your wedding day. Go ahead ask questions, speak to them over the phone and when possible meet with them.
How much do I need to budget to pay the Officiant or Minister?
Again, all officiates provide different levels of experience, professionalism and services. Rev. Dalton is ordained and holds an additional graduate degree and is licensed as a clinical therapist. Rev. Dalton generally commands higher fees. His refreshingly open and friendly presence keeps him in demand. Many couples stay connected to him long after the wedding day.
Why is an officiant’s fee more than I read about in a wedding planning book?
We don’t know, and we hope to re-write the book!. Perhaps it was written when couples were members of a church and offering a stipend to the minister. Often we hear that couples confuse stipend with a fee. You are choosing to hire a person who is not affiliated with a particular church and for many officiants this is a business service. Rev. Dalton and Your Ceremony Matters is a full service wedding ceremony planning business. As such, we charge fees that are in-line with your overall wedding budget.
An officiant’s fee will be a very small amount in comparison to your flowers, wedding cake or hired transportation. An ordained officiant has spent years in training and his or her experience needs to be valued and compensated like any other professional.
I want a simple ceremony and will only need the officiant to be present for a very brief time Why is the fee still so high? All officiates work within a range of fees. Again, your ceremony may be simple in content, but just like preparing your wedding venue with set-up details, an officiant spends hours in preparation and traveling to and from your venue. Many couples working with Reverend Dalton enjoy the meetings to get to know each other and the creativity and ideas that come from these meetings. If you value the officiant’s time you will have an original, unique and personal ceremony.
Will you work on a sliding scale if my wedding is very small, or on a limited budget or my wedding is held on a weekday?
Although we do not work on a sliding scale per se, we will work with your budget within our range of services. We have a commitment to the quality of the work we provide. What matters most to us is that your wedding ceremony provide joyful and lasting memories we think it is essential that the couple and the officiant feel great about the fee they have agreed to.
Do you offer Elopement or Special Weekday Services and Fees?
Absolutely. We work with many venues and wedding coordinators that offer beautiful wedding packages, some that include the minister or officiant’s fees. Otherwise, we will offer special rates for these special ceremonies.
What do I ask an officiant?
First of all ask yourselves how important is it to you to have a rapport or connection to your officiant? This is the person standing between the two of you and will guide you in saying your vows. You might consider what you do not want to happen at your ceremony? Rev. Dalton often adds that layer of comfort and predictability to honor what you want said, while being spontaneously joyful while tasteful and appropriate. The minister or officiant is a significant person that will bless and keep your relationship held with the best of intentions. Again, an officiant should bring lasting memories long after your wedding day.
Is the Minister or Officiant required to attend the rehearsal for the ceremony?
No, there is no requirement. First of all, it is not a minister or officiates roles to conduct or organize the logistics of the actual practice of the processional and recessional. On your wedding day the minister or officiant will be walking in with the groom and groomsmen, and will not be available to handle logistics.
Once the ceremony is under way, the minister takes charge of the ceremony and opens and closes. Ask your minister or officiant what his or her policy is for attending. He or she may be contracted for another engagement or a wedding on your rehearsal day and time. If it is important to have your minister or officiant present, his time and travel may be an additional fee.
Often, families request their presence at a rehearsal dinner and that can be a nice time to meet family and the bridal party. This is different from attending a rehearsal. And couples often confuse the two. Again, discuss this with your minister or officiant in your meeting. A couple having a large wedding will either have contracted for the services of a Day-of-Wedding Coordinator or an Site Manager who are responsible for ceremony rehearsals. Smaller or intimate weddings may not require a rehearsal.
Do you find his or her voice pleasing? And are they comfortable speaking in front of a small or large community of people?
Believe it or not, not every officiant is at ease with speaking. If you are intending to have a family member or friend officiate, it can be even more risky and important that the officiant has had experience with public speaking. The day will naturally bring some anxiety and it is important to feel relaxed and confidant as to what will be said during the ceremony. The officiant is the first voice you, your family and guests will hear to welcome the day. How important is that?
What is the difference between an Ordained Minister, Rabbi or Officiant and a Celebrant or Judge?
Rev. Peadar Dalton was educated with many years in seminary training before ordination. This training and education is similar to a graduate level degree. Many trained and ordained ministers have years of experience in the public and private sectors of church, education and public speaking. An ordained officiant like Rev. Dalton would have rigorous training similar to a Rabbi. Many officiates can become licensed through various on-line training, but may not have been exposed to training within a church or other affiliations. It is good to ask how comfortable an officiant is with speaking to groups of people and have some knowledge about their training and background.
What if I do not want any references to religion or God mentioned?
Every couple should have the opportunity to have the ceremony your way! Find an officiant that will honor and respect your choices, not the other way around. Rev. Dalton and Your Ceremony Matters’ philosophy and approach to the wedding ceremony is that couples need to engage an officiant that is flexible, listens well and will formulate a ceremony that is about you and not about their own religious or personal beliefs. We encourage our couples to have fun with creating a ceremony that is inclusive and makes their family and friends emotionally involved. Rev. Dalton will guide each couple to create a ceremony that is completely unique to you. Rev. Dalton has the ability to draw out those special qualities that are bringing you both to this defining moment in your lives. He can articulate the love, passion and commitment you feel towards each other.
Does the officiant obtain the Marriage License?
No, the officiant does not get your marriage license. The officiant is responsible to sign and file your original license. The officiant will take responsibility to have your witness (s) sign the license and then file the license.
Do we have to get a California Marriage license?
Yes, to be married in California you must have a California marriage license. You both need to be present to obtain a license and expect to pay at least $75.00 by personal check or cash. Both parties need valid identification. If you are coming from another country, you must have your passport and maiden name of parents, birthplace and birth dates of parents. Whether you are a US Citizen or not, if either party has been divorced less than six month, you will be required to bring a certified copy of the final degree of divorce. Check with the county recorder’s office where you intend to obtain your license.
Where do I obtain a Marriage License?
You can obtain a license in any county within California and up to 90 days before your marriage date. You can generally obtain a license by going to the local courthouse recorders office. It takes about 1 hour to obtain. Offices are only open weekdays. See the listing for phone numbers for further information.
After we get our license, what happens?
The license is given to the officiant who is marrying you. If there is a rehearsal and the officiant is attending this is a good time to deliver the license. You can choose one or two witnesses to sign the license (the officiant will obtain these signatures after your ceremony) The license is mailed in by the officiant and filed in the county recorder’s office where the license was obtained. Rev. Dalton’s office will mail you a copy of the license. This is only a copy and if you require a certified copy the court recorder at the time of obtaining your license will provide the details for getting a certified copy once your marriage license has been filed.
Northern California County Clerk’s Phone and Websites
Napa County 707 253-4246
Sonoma County (Santa Rosa) 707 565-3800
Marin County Civic Center 415 499-6094
San Francisco County 415 554-4950
Alameda County Clerk-Recorder (Oakland) 510 272-6362