If you’re planning a wedding you might be wondering: How do I find and choose a wedding officiant? Well, good news, your search is over: You’ve found us!

But in case you’re looking for a few more instructions, we’ve got you covered. Choosing the person who is going to marry you is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your wedding planning journey. This person has the awesome privilege of leading your ceremony and starting your marriage – so choosing the right person for the job is key. The last thing you want is to spend your entire ceremony grimacing and cringing while your officiant rattles on about something you didn’t want them to talk about!

Below we’re sharing how you can find wedding officiants in your area and how you decide on the right officiant for your ceremony. Let’s find out how to choose your wedding officiant!

First things first: Not everyone can be a wedding officiant

While you may think it’ll be easy to just ask a friend or family member to officiate your wedding, that’s not always the case. Not only are friendors (friends who are vendors) not a great idea, but in this case, it may not be legal. In Canada, for your marriage to be legal, it must be officiated by a wedding officiant or marriage commissioner. You can’t have a friend or family member get ordained online and marry you – you must choose a professional officiant.

And so, the hunt for the perfect officiant continues!

Vancouver wedding officiant Shawn Miller with Young Hip & Married
by Erica Miller Photography

Step 1: Have your wedding details worked out

Before you book your wedding officiant, you need to have some details of your wedding set. Your potential officiant will need to know where you’re getting married, when the wedding is happening and approximately how many people will be there before they commit.

If your wedding details are flexible, let your officiant know! For example, we’ve had couples elope in Vancouver from out of town and let us know they’re free any day during a certain week. This kind of flexibility works better if you’re planning an intimate wedding or elopement, but usually isn’t possible with larger events.

Step 2: Know what you want for your ceremony

Before choosing a wedding officiant, you and your partner should sit down and discuss what you’re looking for. What kind of vibe do you want for your wedding ceremony? Do you want your ceremony to be short or long? Do you want your guests to laugh or cry (or both)? Do you want your wedding ceremony to be religious or not at all? Are there any cultural elements you want to include? Do you want to write your own vows?

Take some time to discuss what the two of you want out of your wedding ceremony. That way, not only will you be able to craft a ceremony that best reflects you but you’ll also be able to find the perfect wedding officiant to lead it.

How to choose your wedding officiant, Vancouver wedding officiant Jane Halton, Stanley Park wedding, Ferguson Point elopement
by Erica Miller Photography

Step 3: Do your research

Now that you have your wedding details sorted out and you know generally what you want from your ceremony, it’s time to do some research. You can find wedding officiants by doing a Google search (for example, search “Vancouver wedding officiants”), looking up officiants on social media, or consulting online wedding directories like The Knot or Wedding Wire.

Don’t forget to utilize your network! You can find wedding officiants via referral from your friends and family, by asking for recommendations in any wedding groups or forums you’re a part of, or through chatting with newlyweds from weddings you’ve been to recently. Your other wedding vendors are also a great source of information and can often recommend wedding officiants to you.

Step 4: Confirm availability

With a list of potential wedding officiants in hand, you’ll want to weed out any who don’t work for logistical reasons. Before you get too caught up in the process, you’ll want to ensure your chosen officiant is available for your date, has a ceremony service you’re interested in, and can provide that service within your budget.

Pro tip: It can be helpful to work with a wedding officiant company (like, say, Young Hip & Married!) so you have a team of wedding officiants to choose from, as well as different ceremony package options at different price points. That way, you’re more likely to find a package that matches your needs and an officiant who is available for your date!

Vancouver beach wedding with wedding officiant
by Amber Leigh Photography

Step 5: Ask your potential officiant some important questions

By now, you should have narrowed down your officiant search to a short list of candidates. You know they’re available for your wedding date, but what else do you need to know about your potential officiant? Check out 15 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Officiant Before You Book to ensure you’re getting all the info you need!

These questions include:

  • Do you have any reviews?
  • What happens if you get sick?
  • Can we make changes to the ceremony script?
  • Do you facilitate our wedding rehearsal?

You can ask these questions via email or phone, or some officiants may offer a to meet with you in person or over video call. Young Hip & Married offers complimentary face-to-face (in person or via video) consultations for our Sweet & Simple and Custom & Creative wedding ceremony packages.

Step 6: Do a gut check

Now that you’ve done your research and asked the important questions above, you should have a really good idea of what to expect from your potential wedding officiant. If you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to ask more questions.

But at the end of the day, it really comes down to a gut feeling. We want you to be so excited about the person marrying you! We want you to be confident that the person you’re walking down the aisle towards is going to say and do everything you want for your ceremony.

We’ve all been to a wedding where it’s clear the officiant doesn’t know the couple or what they want at all. The officiant is saying things the couple would never agree with, stumbling over their words or boring the guests to tears. That’s hard to experience as a guest but imagine being the couple in that situation! The last thing we want for you on your wedding day is to regret your ceremony experience. The most magical part of your wedding day can quickly become a nightmare with the wrong officiant at the helm.

Choosing a wedding officiant isn’t as simple as booking the first person who is available for your date or the cheapest option you can find. It’s choosing someone who is going to create the ceremony atmosphere you’re looking for and trusting that person to say the words that will begin your marriage on the right foot.

How to choose your wedding officiant
by Emily Nicole Photos

Step 7: Book your wedding officiant!

You did it! You’ve found and chosen the perfect wedding officiant. Now all that’s left to do is book them and make it official.

What happens if I choose the wrong officiant?

So what happens if you go through all of the steps above but somehow end up with the wrong officiant? First of all, deep breaths. It happens! Sometimes plans change and vendors don’t work out.

Before you book, make sure you read through your contract thoroughly and understand the refund/cancellation policy. If you decide to make a change after booking, reach out to your officiant. Maybe they can accommodate your new plans or work with you to find a suitable solution.

As wedding officiants here at Young Hip & Married, we want to get you married in a way that feels good for you. If something happens and your plans change, please reach out to us as soon as possible. We have a team of staff and officiants who are excited to work together to get you married!

Vancouver wedding officiant Young Hip & Married
by Emily Nicole Photos

Top 5 tips for choosing your wedding officiant

  1. Rely on referrals and reviews. Nothing beats hearing about an experience with a wedding officiant firsthand from another couple. Reach out to your network and read online reviews to get to know potential officiants.
  2. Do your research but don’t wait too long! 2022 is the year of weddings and every wedding vendor is booking up fast. While officiants aren’t usually the first vendor to be booked, our calendars do fill up so make sure you’re booking your officiant with lots of notice.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You should be completely comfortable with everything your officiant is going to say and do during your ceremony. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to make sure your ceremony is right for you.
  4. Be confident in your wedding officiant at every stage. Not only do you want to be confident in your officiant’s abilities on the big day but you want to know you can rely on them beforehand and after the fact too. Your officiant should be communicative and informative leading up to your wedding and you should trust them to handle the legal paperwork after the big day.
  5. Choosing your wedding officiant should be a simple, stress-free and secure experience. If you find yourself waiting weeks for a response, unable to get a straight answer or feeling uneasy about booking, that’s a good sign that you should trust your gut and look elsewhere.

Ready to choose the best wedding officiants in the business? Get in touch to book your Young Hip & Married officiant for your wedding day! 

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written by Riana Ang-Canning
feature image by Amber Leigh Photography