By Officiant and Celebrant JP Payne

Choosing an officiant is an important decision to make when planning your wedding. If you are affiliated with a particular religious organization or group, your choice is likely obvious to you. But if you’re planning a non-denominational ceremony, there are a few things to think about to be sure your day is truly perfect.

Use Your Resources.
The best resources for selecting your officiant are word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews. See what others have written about your prospective celebrant. Ask friends and family about their experiences and do a few searches online to see if you and the officiant would be the right fit.

Second, ask your event planner or venue coordinator. They often have a list of their preferred officiants. After all, they want you to have an ideal day too.

richmond wedding jp payne officiant celebrant perfect finding expect
Paige Stevens Photography

Get to Know Your Officiant (and vice-versa!)
Your celebrant will ask you many questions before preparing your vows. If she or he does not, you may expect a more traditional delivery of commonly used words and phrases. If your celebrant is customizing your vows, information about your engagement, family relations, friends, favorite pastimes, and hobbies may be posed. Be open and honest and reveal your authenticity as a couple.

Your celebrant has studied the traditions of various cultures, public speaking, beliefs, and religions. He or she should be able to offer suggestions for enhancing the ceremony. Are you an interfaith couple? Perhaps a blend of religious traditions can be proffered. Or maybe another cultural reference is most befitting for you, such as using a rainbow scarf for LGBT ceremonies.

richmond wedding jp payne officiant celebrant perfect finding expect
Nicole Vance Photography

Be Honest About Your Ceremony Wishes.
Openly and honestly convey your wishes about the nature of the ceremony. What do you and your fiancé have in mind? Formal or casual? Participative or focused? Elegant or simple? Be sure to include if you would like to have any additional traditions such as a candle lighting or a sand ceremony.

Know the Cost.
You may expect to pay an officiant somewhere between $300 and $800. The fee will be determined by the length of the ceremony, the research involved to locate the best quotes for your day, the time to travel to and from the venue, and the level of expertise your officiant offers.

richmond wedding jp payne officiant celebrant perfect finding expect
Hayes & Fisk Photography

Make Sure You Click.
Finally, after doing your homework, meet the celebrant in person or by phone. Determine if he or she provides you with a sense of confidence, competence, reliability, and care. Your wedding officiant is the one who will be responsible for submitting the required legal documents to make your nuptials official. He or she will be your wedding guru and will be responsible for making your day extra special for you and your guests!

JP Payne is a writer by profession. She writes customized vows for every wedding ceremony honoring each couple’s unique relationship. JP gets to know her couples personally and creates tailored vows for every ceremony. JP officiates non-denominational, religious, secular, and LGBTQ ceremonies. You can find more information about JP at and