What Does a Wedding Officiant Do & Tips from an Officiant For Your Wedding Day

Bride signing marriage certificate on wedding day during ceremony.
Signing the marriage certificate during the ceremony.
Photo credit: Greenhouse Photo & Co

Is this you? You’re getting married, you want a beautiful ceremony that is unique to the two of you, but you’re not sure where to start…or maybe you wedding planning is well under way and you just realized you need an officiant (thanks to your photographer, wedding planner or mom that just happened to mention it). – these things happen more often than you may realize.

First, Congratulations on your engagement! This is an amazing time and planning your wedding should be fun. You’re preparing a celebration to begin the rest of your lives together. If you haven’t already, take some time away from planning to just breathe and enjoy the bliss of your engagement. 

I receive a lot of questions from couples who don’t even know where to start thinking about their wedding event, let alone their ceremony (the part during which they actually get married) and they start feeling stressed. Fortunately, while there can be a lot to consider when planning a wedding and putting together a wedding ceremony, you don’t have to do everything by yourself.

In fact, for every part of your special day, there is a wedding professional available and desiring to assist you: Wedding Venues, Wedding Planners, Florists, Stylists, and Stationary designers, Party Rentals, Caterers, Bakers, DJ’s, Musicians, Photographers, Videographers Jewelers, Tailors, Retailers, Hotels AND, of course Officiants (the person who actually does the “marrying part”. 🙂 Each professional can lead you to another.

As your Wedding Officiant, my basic role is to help you create a ceremony that fits your personalities and vision for your perfect elopement or intimate wedding, provide expert, caring officiating for you on the day AND make sure you’re legally married. Yep…that’s a thing. 

Intimate Family Wedding at Hug Point, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Some things to think about when making decisions about your wedding ceremony:

  • How do you want your ceremony to feel for you and your guests? If you start here, your Officiant can help you with the rest.
  • Do you want a faith based ceremony? Non-religious? A combination? multi-cultural? themed?
  • Would you like an outdoor ceremony or indoor ceremony?
  • Do you want a large event that includes all your family and friends, or an intimate affair with just a few?  
  • How many people (if any) you want to be in your wedding party;
  • Do you want any readings or music before or during the ceremony? These add to the feel, without adding to the length of your ceremony
  • Would you like some traditional vows, to create your own vows or have a combination of the two? and
  • What type of unity ritual you would like (if any)? This is a great way to honor your family/ cultural backgrounds.

Most ceremonies officiated by professional officiants take around 15-20 minutes to complete from the time you enter until you’re pronounced married. If you have lots of elements, it may go a little longer, but not terribly long. Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you want your wedding ceremony to feel. Just remember that it’s your wedding so it will be beautiful. 

Finally, as I mentioned above, as your officiant, it is my role to make sure your marriage is legal. Depending upon the state, there may be a waiting period, a witness requirement and there’s an expiration date that the marriage must take place within. For instance, in the State of Washington there is a three-day waiting period, and it’s only valid for 60 days, so once you receive your marriage certificate, you must wait three days to get married and the marriage must take place before the expiration date of the license. The state also requires your officiant, the couple and two witnesses, sign the license. The Officiant is then required to return it to the county of origin. If you have questions about this, remember to talk with your officiant or send me an email. 

Remember, your wedding is a very special day for you and your guests, but it is YOUR day as a couple. Thankfully, there is no right or wrong way to do a wedding anymore.  It can look and feel any way that you want it to look and feel and that will make it perfect for the two of you.

Photo credit Roxanne Best

About Chanelle: 

Chanelle Carlin is Your Celebrant for Life. She is an ordained minister, professional wedding officiant, coach, and owner of Chanelle Carlin Weddings, LLC. Believing that life and love should be celebrated every minute, she collaborates with couples who’ve already started building the foundations of their relationship over the years and are now ready to venture forth into marriage with a custom, memorable (for all the right reasons) elopement/intimate wedding ceremony. While Chanelle works throughout the Pacific Northwest and Ireland primarily, she gladly travels to wherever her couples prefer to marry. As their Celebrant for Life, Chanelle also celebrates all the special milestones and moments that matter in each of her couples’ lives. She lives with her family in rural Okanogan County, Washington, USA, and totally LOVES her life. You can visit Chanelle at www.chanellecarlin.com, on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest