Choosing an officiant for your vow renewal is one of the most important tasks on your planning to-do list. Your officiant plays a significant role in your day and can make it completely amazing or leave you feeling utterly disappointed. Technically, anyone can officiate a vow renewal ceremony since it’s not a legally* binding ceremony anywhere in the world. All you need is someone who can stand up in front of everyone and say all the right things. Sounds easy, right? Well, sort of.
The officiant’s tone, presence, personality, and comfort level with performing the ceremony will determine how you and your guests feel about the service. Someone who cracks a lot of jokes or laughs a lot when they’re nervous can ruin an intimate ceremony. Likewise, someone who is very serious and formal can put a damper on a fun, casual service. So how do you go about choosing the right officiant for your vow renewal ceremony? Here are the top five things you need to remember when choosing an officiant for your vow renewal.
Decide what kind of ceremony you want
Before meeting with potential officiants, you and your spouse need to discuss your vision for the mood and feel of your ceremony. The style of your vow renewal will help you make decisions on this. Still, you’ll also need to decide if you want it to be religious or secular, light-hearted or serious, custom or traditional, and so on? It would help if you also determined how long you would like it to be. Once you have these parameters decided upon, you can talk with each person you’re considering to see if they are a good fit for what you have in mind. Be sure to take note of any objections or alternative suggestions they raise. If they have a different vision than you do, move on.
Ask vendors for recommendations
Your other vendors can provide a goldmine of information about officiants they’ve worked events with. Check with venues, photographers, florists, and event caterers. Naturally, if you hire an event planner, they should also be able to provide recommendations.
Get referrals and read reviews
Professional officiants will have online listings where other couples have posted reviews. Make sure you read through them so you can get a feel for what the person is really like and if they could be perfect for you. Make a note of issues like tardiness and no shows!
Meet with the officiant personally
A phone conversation isn’t going to be sufficient when selecting an officiant, you need to meet in person or via video chat. Having an in-person meeting with your potential officiant is vital before choosing them, regardless of whether or not they are a professional, family member, or friend. Ask yourself if you like the sound of their voice, the way they speak, their presence and personality, and how they make you feel. Do they make you feel rushed, or are they willing to take the time needed to get to know you and understand your vision? Do you feel like they will be able to deliver your ceremony and vows in a way that feels meaningful to you? Take your vision for the mood and feel of your ceremony into consideration as you answer these questions.
When meeting with a professional officiant, it’s particularly important to consider if what they say at this first meeting resonates with you. If it doesn’t, it’s unlikely that it will on the day of your vow renewal. Trust your initial gut feeling about each potential officiant!
Check out their work
Many professional officiants have videos of ceremonies they’ve performed on YouTube or their website that you can check out to get a feel for their style. You can also ask to review their book of ceremonies and enhancement options, talk to past clients, or see testimonials to help make your decision. Beware of officiants that are reluctant to provide any of these things. Professional officiants should have experience working with a variety of vow renewal styles and be willing to work with you to create something personal if desired.
If you’re considering having a friend or family member act as your officiant, you’ll also want to check them out. Review their social media accounts to see if they have the right presence. Look for videos, examples of them making presentations in front of groups, or evidence that they are at least generally outgoing. You don’t want an officiant with stage fright!
*Once you’re married, you’re lawfully locked in until death do you part, or you get divorced. There’s nothing to renew legally.