What’s the best way to set up a consultation or an appointment with a wedding officiant during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The safest way to conduct a consultation during COVID-19 is virtually. Ask wedding officiants near you if they can have a phone call or a virtual appointment over video chat. If they can, make sure to ask them any questions you have about upcoming work. Discuss what precautions, if any, they have in place to ensure safety. You might consider asking if they accept digital payments or if they can complete the work remotely, without any in-person contact.
Do wedding officiants offer remote or virtual services?
Reach out to wedding officiants in your area, and ask them if they can offer a remote or virtual ceremony. Some officiants may be willing to meet in person while maintaining 6 feet of distance, while others may prefer to conduct the entire service over the phone or a video call service such as Skype or Zoom.
Familiarize yourself with the social distancing rules in your community, city and state, and move forward only if both you and the officiant are comfortable with the arrangement.
Are there ways to be safe if I hire a wedding officiant when social distancing?
If you decide to hire a wedding officiant when social distancing, ask if the officiant can offer remote services. Some wedding officiants are choosing to conduct services virtually and/or stand more than 6 feet away from the parties. Discuss possible arrangements with your wedding officiant, and familiarize yourself with your local community guidelines, as well as the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing. Only move forward if you and the officiant both feel comfortable.
You may want to implement extra precautions, such as using digital payments instead of exchanging cash, sanitizing all involved spaces and waving instead of shaking hands.
Can I use digital payments to pay for a wedding officiant?
Ask your wedding officiant if they accept digital payments. Many professionals are accept payment via Venmo, PayPal, Square Cash, Apple Pay, Zelle and other online platforms. Professionals may be more willing to switch to digital payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, as this is typically considered safer than using cash or credit cards. You can see which digital payment options officiants accept by reviewing their online profiles.
How can I find out if a wedding officiant is considered an essential COVID-19 service provider?
The definition of essential services varies by location, so you will need to visit your state or city government website to learn what is considered an essential service in your area.
For more information on a national level, read CISA’s publication on critical infrastructure workers. Some, but not all, jurisdictions follow CISA’s definitions of critical infrastructure.
Does a wedding officiant need to enter my home?
This depends on the location of your wedding. Unless the ceremony is being held in your home, a wedding officiant will not need to enter your home before the ceremony. Some couples are choosing to stand outside or go to a vacant public place, so the officiant can conduct the ceremony while maintaining 6 feet of distance. Ask your wedding officiant what kinds of arrangements they offer, including virtual or remote services.
What does it mean to officiate a wedding?
To officiate a wedding is to oversee the official union of two people in marriage. A wedding officiant is vested with the power to legitimize your union in the eyes of the court. An officiant also sets the tone for your ceremony, leading the couple through their vows and shaping the experience with the words they choose and the pace they set. An officiant may be based in a religious faith, may be an interfaith officiant, may be a secular officiant, or may be a friend or family member who has received ordination online.
You can have a traditional wedding officiated, or you can also have an officiant oversee a commitment ceremony, a vow renewal or an elopement. Once the wedding is complete, the officiant will ask you to sign the wedding certificate, and will then submit the document to the court on your behalf. This makes your marriage legal. Wedding officiants work with you no matter how simple or elaborate you would like your ceremony to be. The more involved wedding officiants are in the planning and customization of the ceremony, the more they will typically charge.
How much does it cost to officiate a wedding?
The national average cost to hire a wedding officiant is $150-$200. Wedding officiant rates are affected by the date of the ceremony, the time of day, and how far the officiant has to travel. Some officiants may charge extra for additional ceremonies like unity candles or sand ceremonies, as well as the cost of the supplies. Many wedding officiants have higher rates for larger weddings and lower rates for smaller, more intimate ceremonies. Personalizing the ceremony means a lot to some couples. Wedding officiants may have flat rates for standard ceremony templates, perhaps $100-$125, and charge more for a more customized experience, such as $150-$200. This allows the couple to collaborate with the wedding officiant as they are building a unique ceremony script. At the pre-wedding meeting, the officiant will ask whether the couple plans to write their own vows and how much input they have about the rest of the wording and flow of the ceremony. Additional planning meetings and extra communication can add up to a higher overall cost. If your venue has parking or other fees, you may need to pay on behalf of the officiant. Often wedding officiants can rent sound systems and wireless mics if you have an outdoor wedding location or venue that is not wired. These extras will also increase the overall cost.
Who performs a wedding ceremony?
Anyone who is authorized by the court or a credible online source has the power to perform a wedding ceremony. Traditionally, wedding officiants were ordained members of a religious organization or civil officiants authorized by the court to legally marry two people. With the increasing customization and personalization of weddings, many couples are asking a friend or family member to become ordained and act as their wedding officiant. Wedding officiants can represent a wide range of backgrounds including Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, nondenominational, interfaith or nonreligious. There is no legally required structure for a wedding ceremony, so couples can customize the language of the ceremony and their vows in any way they desire (though members of some religions may have specific requirements). To legally validate the marriage, the couple and the wedding officiant must sign a marriage certificate after the ceremony verifying the date and names of those involved. The wedding officiant should then submit the certificate to the court, which will in turn mail an official marriage certificate to the newly married couple.