Choosing an officiant for your Marriage ceremony:
Choosing an officiant to deliver a professional wedding ceremony is just as important as choosing a photographer.
Anyone who wishes to perform a marriage in Maine can do so by means of a number of methods, some of which require almost no effort, education, experience or training. A Maine notary public who has been commissioned for years but has never solemnized a marriage can advertise their services as a Maine marriage officiant. In addition, anyone with a computer and internet access can submit their name and address online and become an ordained minister. Immediately, at no charge, with no proof of identity, and with no knowledge of the laws for solemnizing marriages in Maine. Anyone who goes this route can also advertise their services as a Maine marriage officiant. When vetting out officiants, couples really have no way of knowing how much experience an officiant has, short of asking to see copies of marriage licenses for every wedding they’ve ever performed. (Just for fun, here’s a photo of my most recent licenses…The ones which haven’t made their way into my archived files yet.)
This is not likely to be a problem for simple ceremonies as long as the officiant properly files the marriage license and maintains records in accordance with the laws of the State of Maine. It becomes an issue when a problem arises or when couples seek a professional for a complex ceremony. When it comes to choosing an officiant, keep in mind the following:
An experienced officiant has solemnized dozens or hundreds of Maine marriages. They have performed vow renewal ceremonies, same sex commitment ceremonies, opposite sex commitment ceremonies and elopements. They have married couples in kitchens and backyards, in churches, on beaches, on boats, in rented event halls and everywhere in between. They have run wedding rehearsals, met with couples, played wedding planner, dealt with town clerks, worked with other vendors, consoled brides, diffused family arguments, managed processional/recessional logsitics, written countless ceremonies, kept meticulous records and can probably give you directions to every single town office in Maine.
A marriage officiant becomes a professional by experience. There is simply no way around it. We become skilled at getting to know couples quickly so that we can compose their perfect ceremony. We master the art of public speaking.
It’s just like a teenager with a brand new drivers license. Sure, they can legally drive. But it doesn’t mean you’d want them driving your new Merecedes.
When choosing an officiant, here are some questions you may want to ask. Remember, a professional marriage officiant will be comfortable and straightforward in their answers.
- What is your title? (attorney, notary public, dedimus justice, minister, etc.)
- How and why did you start performing marriage ceremonies in Maine?
- What date (year) did you marry your first couple?
- How many weddings do you solemnize each year and how many have you solemnized in total?
- What are your refund and cancellation policies?
- Do you specialize in a certain type of event? (Large, non-traditional, etc.)
- Have you performed commitment ceremonies? How many?
- Have you performed same sex commitment ceremonies? How many and when did you start offering that service?
- How will you implement our personal style into the ceremony?
- How will you incorporate our faiths into the ceremony?
- Can we submit our own vows or write portions of the ceremony oursevles if we choose?
- Do you have a collection of vows, ring exchanges, readings, etc. we can use for inspiration?
- Can you provide us with ceremony script examples you have written and performed?
- How will you prepare us for the ceremony?
- Will you memorize the ceremony or read it from a script?
- What proactive approaches do you use to eliminate the possibility of errors during the ceremony?
- How and when will you file the marriage license at the town office?
- Could you provide us with a list of references?