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Limo Service Buffalo
Limousines and Limo Bus Rentals
For Buffalo, NY
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Wedding Guide- Officiants

This fantastic article is brought to you by David Viggiani, Wedding Officiant, This Day Forward Officiant Services, Canandaigua, NY

A wedding officiant is someone with legal authority to marry people. Officiants must fulfill the legal requirements of the state and municipality in which they perform wedding ceremonies in order for these marriages to be considered legally binding. In fact, in many places performing a wedding ceremony without legal authorization can constitute a crime. Requirements vary by state. A professional wedding officiant will have the proper credentials to perform a wedding in the jurisdiction they work.

There are two kinds of wedding officiants: civil and religious.

Civil wedding officiants receive their authorization to conduct marriages through their affiliation with a government body; typically courts and municipal offices. Examples of civil authorities who can act as a wedding officiant are: judges, justices of the peace, mayors and city/town clerks.

Religious wedding officiants are able to perform marriages because they have been given this authority through a religious organization or spiritual group. In turn states and municipalities recognize the authority given to officiants by their respective religious organizations. These officiants, in the broadest sense, are considered clergy in the eyes of the law and are duly authorized to perform marriages. What about family and friends performing a wedding? How does that happen? Non-professional wedding officiants can, in some instances, perform weddings. Typically this is done when the relative or friend obtains a rapid ‘ordination’ from a sympathetic religious organization. Technically, these kind of weddings are considered religious.

What kind of officiant is right for you?

If you simply want to be legally married and are not interested in all the things usually associated with a wedding, like a ceremony, reception, etc. then getting married by a civil wedding officiant is the right choice for you. This will typically involve going to a courthouse or city/town hall during business hours or by appointment and, after obtaining a wedding license, ask a clerk or judge to marry you. The event itself will only take a few minutes and that’s it, you’re married!

However, if you are looking for something more. If you want a wedding that involves a ceremony, large or small, then you will need a religious wedding officiant.

What kind of religious wedding officiant? As mentioned, a non-professional family or friend sometimes can, if they go through the legally required steps, perform what’s legally considered to be a religious wedding ceremony. However, this is not recommended. Since the wedding ceremony is the centerpiece of your ‘big day’ it would be unwise to entrust something this important to an amateur. When it comes to performing a wedding ceremony it is vital to have someone who knows what they’re doing. Knowledge and ability matter. Knowing what to do and the ability to get it done in all kinds of situations make hiring a professional wedding officiant worthwhile.

There are two kinds of professional religious wedding officiants. The first kind are those who are closely associated with a local religious organization such as a church or synagogue. These are often called denominational officiants and are usually pastors, priests, ministers or rabbis presiding over a congregation. The second kind are those who only do weddings and other related officiant activities such as funerals, dedications, etc. They are not associated with a particular denomination or local church. Officiating is all they do.

If you and your partner have the same or similar faith practice that involves regularly attending a particular kind of church such as Roman Catholic, Baptist, etc. then it would be natural to ask the clergy person associated with that church or denomination to perform your wedding ceremony. You should be aware, however, that ceremonies performed by denominational clergy usually have to follow the particular rules and regulations of that church body. Although, depending on the church denomination and individual minister, some flexibility in the ceremony may be allowed oftentimes it is limited in scope. Also, it is sometimes the case that because officiating wedding ceremonies is not a focus of a particular denominational pastor or priest, either because of lack of time or interest, the quality of their performance may be uneven.

Nowadays many people who consider themselves to be spiritual and have a faith practice do not go to church and are not affiliated with a particular denominational church. Others may not consider themselves to be religious at all. Many more find themselves somewhere in between. If you are this type of person, or you just want to have more say over what goes into your wedding ceremony then hiring an experienced, professional full-time officiant is your best bet.

Although most professional full-time wedding officiants are in the second category of religious officiants mentioned above, they usually wear their religious beliefs very lightly, do not require the couple they are marrying to have the same beliefs (or any beliefs at all) and are extremely flexible in the kind of ceremony they are willing to perform. These are the officiants you need when you want a custom ceremony, professionally done, that reflects your wishes and desires.

What do professional wedding officiants do?

A professional wedding officiant will design and write a personalized ceremony to your specifications. Designing a wedding ceremony involves selecting the right elements placed in the right order, finding readings that are meaningful and appropriately correspond to the other elements of the ceremony, and selecting or writing wedding vows or assisting the couple in writing their own. Including children or other family members in the ceremony, properly incorporating musical selections along with many other factors need to be carefully taken into account of as well when designing a wedding ceremony. A good wedding officiant will have designed and conducted many wedding ceremonies and will know just how to make everything fit together in order to express the vision you have for your ceremony.

A professional wedding officiant will properly perform the ceremony. This is critical. A well performed ceremony done with warmth and humor sets the tone for everything else that happens on the wedding day. Professional wedding officiants are experienced public speakers who will ensure that the ceremony is engaging for both you and your guests. They will know how to put everyone at ease and keep things flowing when something unexpected happens. A recalcitrant flower girl, a ring bearer who has run off, a reader with stage fright, decorations that fall over; when these and other kinds of mishaps occur a professional wedding officiant will not be thrown off or flustered, instead they will know just what to do to keep the mood light and festive and the ceremony moving along.

A professional wedding officiant is dependable. Professional wedding officiants show up early to the ceremony to make sure everything is just right. They coordinate with other wedding professionals such as the DJ, musicians, a wedding planner, and the venue manager to finalize last minute ceremony preparations. They verify and secure the wedding license, make sure it is properly witnessed after the ceremony and return it to the proper municipality. They may also, depending on the contract you have with them, participate in a ceremony rehearsal the day of or the day before the actual ceremony. Last, most professional wedding officiants have a back-up plan for the rare occasion an emergency prevents them from performing the ceremony. They will already have made arrangements with another professional wedding officiant to fill in for them if something like this occurs.

Where can you find a professional wedding officiant? This website provides links to some excellent wedding officiants in Buffalo and Western New York. Check them out! In choosing a professional wedding officiant be sure to visit their website (be wary of those who don’t have one), carefully read their reviews and meet with them in person or via Skype or FaceTime to make sure they can design and perform the kind of wedding ceremony you desire.

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