You know what they say, knowledge is power. But I’m not here to tell you who or what’s right for YOU. I’m here to give you the TOOLS you need so you can make an INFORMED decision about your wedding ceremony. These are questions I know you need to ask, based on my years of experience as a professional wedding officiant in Maine & New England.
First, let me be clear about one thing: I don’t care how you get married. Or who performs your wedding ceremony. I care that you have options, and that you feel good about your decision. I care that you feel supported, seen, and heard. I care that you feel relaxed, comfortable, and confident.
I believe that regardless of who you hire or choose to officiate your wedding ceremony, it can AND should feel good. It can AND should feel like you. The energy between you, your spouse-to-be, and your chosen wedding officiant – professional or friend or family member* – MATTERS because it’ll impact how you FEEL on your wedding day, which in turn will impact your memory and overall wedding experience.
Remember: you didn’t settle for your partner. You don’t have to settle for your wedding ceremony either.
Be curious and choose wisely. I trust your instincts! And my greatest hope is that you do, too.
Thinking about asking a loved one to do the honors? Read about the Pros and Cons of Asking A Friend to Officiate Your Ceremony here.
Here are the top 13 questions to ask a professional wedding officiant before and after they’re hired
- Are you ordained and legally permitted to “marry” us?
Unless you’re already legally married or planning to get legally married at the courthouse or having a separate ceremony in the church of your choice then the answer to this question should always be YES.
Many modern wedding officiants are ordained through places like the Universal Life Church or the American Marriage Ministries. Visit my Resources page to learn more.
Marriage laws vary state to state. You’ll be want to assured that your officiant is in accordance with state and local laws.
I’m an ordained minister and able to perform legal marriage ceremonies in almost every state.
- How would you describe your public speaking style?
Some officiants lean more formal, others more casual. Some officiants have a more religious tone, others more spiritual.
I deliver wedding ceremonies with the poise of a skilled professional and warmth of a loved one. A Swoon Union ceremony is unique, modern, and feels like a story. Your story. I help you honor where you’ve been, celebrate where you’re going, and experience your moment.
Words matter, delivery matters, and how you feel matters. My public speaking style is open, honest, and real.
Swoon Union ceremonies are genuine, not generic.
Lighthearted yet Reverent
Personalized yet Relatable
Warm and Inclusive
Unique and Thoughtful
- What can we expect from you when we work together?
Having expectations does NOT make you a bridezilla. Let me say that again: having expectations does NOT make you a bridezilla. Likewise, having no expectations doesn’t make you chill or relaxed.
Expectation setting is KEY to having a mutually fulfilling experience. You’re allowed to have expectations. You’re allowed to have preferences and boundaries.
When we choose to work together, I become your ceremony hype girl. You can expect me to show up for you and support you throughout the ceremony creation process and beyond your wedding day.
Like anything in life, you’ll get out of the Swoon Union experience what you put into it. I’m looking for quality over quantity.
- Do we get to see/read the ceremony script before our wedding day?
If you’re hiring a professional wedding officiant then you SHOULD be able to read and offer any necessary feedback or edits BEFORE your wedding. Be aware of professional wedding officiants who are guarded or cagey about sharing your wedding ceremony with you in advance of your wedding. Especially if you’ve paid someone to craft something personal and unique to you.
Even with the world’s greatest planning, there are enough “surprises” on any given wedding day or wedding weekend, which is why I typically deliver the first draft of your wedding ceremony about a month before your wedding. This allows you ample time to read, review, give feedback, and make necessary edits. I never want my clients to be surprised or caught off guard by what’s being said during their ceremony. I want you to be completely on-board and comfortable with everything that’s being shared. You have a much greater chance of being present during your ceremony if you’re not anticipating or guessing what’s coming next.
In short: yes, you get to read the ceremony. I’ve been in your shoes and I know there are a million reasons to lose sleep while planning a wedding. Rest easy, darling. When you choose Swoon Union, your wedding ceremony isn’t one of them.
- Does your service include a rehearsal? If so, tell us about how you “run” the rehearsal.
I’ve been in enough weddings AND been in the wedding industry long enough to know that a smooth ceremony is the result of a clear, concise, and well-run rehearsal.
I collaborate with your wedding planner and/or site coordinator so that the rehearsal is seamless and playful, but I also ensure that ALL questions are addressed so that everyone is on the same page leading up to the big day.
Personally, I’d never hire someone who thinks the rehearsal “belongs” to them. I’ve heard of wedding officiants who are territorial over the rehearsal. This is a big red flag in my book. The reason for this? Generally, the officiant is the first person to enter the ceremony space. So, how can the officiant who’s now standing in front of the guests be responsible for lining up the bridal party and ensuring that everyone is on cue? They can’t. You need teamwork to make the dream work, baby!
So, in my experience, wedding rehearsals that are collaborative between the wedding officiant, wedding planner, and site coordinator work best and make for the most relaxed couples and prepared bridal parties and families.
Curious about how I “run” a Swoon Union rehearsal? Get on the waitlist here for a free tutorial on how to make it non-sucky, memorable, and impactful.
- Why do people love working with you?
Any professional wedding officiant should be able to point you to REAL testimonials. In addition to doing a consultation to see if you connect, these are going to be a genuine way for you to decide if this professional wedding officiant is the best and right fit for you and your fiance.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t care who “marries” you. I care that you have options and you feel supported. Choose someone who makes you feel relaxed, comfortable, and confident. And has the reviews to back it up.
Curious what past Swoon Union have to say about their experience? The reviews are in!
- Typically, how long are your ceremonies?
Personally, I’m a fan of “short-and-sweet”, which I consider to be between 20 and 30 minutes. I know, I know, you might be thinking, “Michelle, 30 minutes isn’t short!” But it is the sweet spot.
Your wedding ceremony isn’t an afterthought. It’s the reason for the party.
It’s an investment in your memory and the legacy of love you’re creating.
You want to create and hold enough space to slow down time, hit pause, and soak in some of the sweetest moments of the day. It’s likely the only time of the day that ALL of your people are in the exact same spot, doing the exact same thing: witnessing you and your beloved become spouses, which is pretty cool if you think about it that way.
Now hear me out: don’t fill the space just to fill the space. Make those 20 to 30 minutes count. Invite your loved ones into your relationship. Give them a front row seat into who you are as individuals and as a couple. Share your intentions and your values. Laugh together, cry together. Be thoughtful and intentional. This is an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime-emotional opportunity. Seize it!
Need help navigating this? Enter Swoon Union. You got this, and I got you!
Word to the wise: don’t hire someone who reads the same generic script over and over when you’re looking for something personal and custom to YOU. Likewise, don’t hire someone who specializes in long ceremonies when you’re looking for a very brief or basic wedding ceremony.
- What’s included in your service?
You deserve to know what you’re paying for. Like all wedding related decisions, services vary based on each individual wedding professional or vendor. Before signing contracts and making deposits, it should be crystal clear what’s included in the service. You don’t want to be caught off guard by surprise costs.
- What’s your process?
Most wedding officiants are solopreneurs, meaning they’re a one-person business. The process each officiant uses will be as unique to them and everyone’s process is going to look slightly different.
The Swoon Union Process is collaborative and based on mutual trust, respect and honesty. You can read about “the steps” in my process here.
- Will you write the vows for us?
It depends. This varies from officiant to officiant. You see a pattern here, right? This is why it’s important to connect with your potential officiant BEFORE you hire them.
Personally, I don’t and won’t write your vows for you. Your vows belong to YOU. They are promises you’re making to your partner, the love of your love, and your spouse. The only way for them to be sincere and honest is for you to write them yourself.
That said, I’ll HELP you write them! And I’m always happy to read through to ensure that your vows are appropriate and aligned in sentiment and length.
When we work together, you’ll get access to my “Vows Vault.” Or in other words, a treasure trove of inspiration!
Here are two pieces of advice I ALWAYS give my clients:
- You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Trust me, NOBODY’S gonna hear your vows and say “those are plagiarized!!”
- Only make promises you can actually keep. Yes, you can add humor and levity, but promising to take out the garbage for the rest of your marriage is unrealistic and sets you up to break your promise.
- When will you arrive on our wedding day?
Part of what makes a wedding day great is the logistics. Sexy? No. Romantic? No. Necessary? A hundred percent!
Knowing when your vendors are scheduled to arrive and TRUSTING that they’ll stick to it will make you feel better and more relaxed. It’s one of the key reasons I recommend working with a good wedding planner. Need a short? Check out my favorite planners here.
For my part, I arrive 30 to 45 minutes before your wedding ceremony. First, I check-in with the planner or site coordinator then I find you and rave about how stunning you are, how gorgeous your squad is, how breathtaking your flowers are aka I hype you up. Practically speaking, I want you to know I’m on-site. From there, I do a full walk through of the ceremony space, touch base with the sound crew, and get mic-ed up so we’re ready to rock’n’roll whenever you are!
- Do you stay for the rehearsal dinner or reception?
To each their own. I’m flattered when I get invited to attend rehearsal dinners and/or wedding receptions, but my answer is always, “No, but thank you for the invitation.” (There was a time early in my wedding industry career that I occasionally said YES to a rehearsal dinner, but I learned that I need to save my energy, magic, and mystery for the big day!)
Here are my reasons:
- I want your friends and families to bond with one another, not me.
- Your focus should be on your soon-to-be-spouse and your loved ones. Yes, we’ll inevitably build a relationship and we’ll truly be friends by the time you walk down the aisle as newlyweds. Please trust me when I say that I stay in contact with many of my clients way beyond their wedding day. I also offer a post-wedding recap so we have a chance to gush about your wedding day and revel in the incredible lovefest you just experienced.
- After the ceremony my job is “done,” but my colleagues are still on the clock. It’s about keeping things professional and maintaining boundaries – for all of us!
- Finally, the cost of weddings is not lost on me.
So, what happens after your ceremony? I ensure that your marriage license is properly signed and handled then I tend to stick around for about 30 minutes of cocktail hour. I mingle while you bask in the post-ceremony bliss, sip champagne, have a snack, do photos, make-out, whatever! I never leave without giving hugs and saying goodbye first.
- What will you wear to our ceremony?
Great question! Everyone has their own style, obviously. I personally tend to wear navy blue because it photographs nicely in natural light (99% of my ceremonies are outdoors) and it isn’t a distraction and doesn’t compete with the bridal or bridal party.
I shy away from brown and gray because they can dull skin tones. Unless I’ve been specifically asked to wear black then I also avoid wearing black.
Occasionally, a client asks me to wear something more colorful. One even said, “We want you to wear what you’d wear if you were a guest at our wedding!” So, I did!
A wedding officiant buddy of mine wears a variety of shirts, pants, blazers, and neckties with the goal of his attire aligning with your style for the ceremony and one that matches your color scheme. I think it’s pretty cool.
He’s got me inspired and I’m thinking about investing in a new suit for the upcoming “wedding season.” A little throwback to my days working on Capitol Hill! (Curious about how I got started? Follow my story here.)
For inspiration, here’s a post of 5 outfits that I’d wear to your wedding.
Looking for more help with your officiant decisions? Don’t miss:
- Pros and Cons of Asking a Loved One to Officiate Your Wedding Ceremony
- My wedding ceremony writing service, for couples who want a professional ceremony written that a loved one will deliver