Here are some simple words of advice as you shop wedding officiants:
● Never hire someone to officiate your wedding if you don’t like them as a person. Make some calls, and check your chemistry – and your gut! Do you like them? Do they seem intelligent and sincere? This is a wedding officiant; not an auto mechanic. Chemistry does matter.
● I know you have questions for the officiant, but do you like the questions the officiant is asking you? I recently officiated a wedding for a couple who had met with another rabbi for the first time, to discuss their wedding. This rabbi apparently only had two questions for them in their meeting: A) How much money do you have? (Obstensibly because the No. 1 problem in marriages is money) and then B) How is your sex life? (That’s just so wrong … I don’t even know where to start. Save my incredulity for another blog post, I guess.)
● Does the officiant treat your liturgical requests like something they genuinely want to provide? Or do they have the attitude that you are bugging them by asking them to depart from what they usually do, or act disapproving that you are departing from “tradition?” (Personally, I think life is too short and weddings are too important to get into all this.)
● Will the officiant be able to communicate well with your guests, and in particular your parents, who probably care a lot about who their kids’ wedding officiant is?
● Check the person’s references. I have a ton posted on my web page, and I’m always happy to give out email addresses of previous clients to anyone who asks.
Other Ways to Save on Your Budget
No one becomes a rabbi or a minister because they want to be rich. More than anything, we love working with people and helping them honor the major milestones in their lives.
At the same time, we also have to make a living. Ours is a precarious career that does not afford the protections many jobs provide: health insurance, retirement plans, paid sick leave.
If you find an officiant you like, but are hesitating over the price, take a simple look at your larger wedding budget and see if it is as “fixed” as you think it is. Here are two simple cost-saving ideas:
- You can buy a hand-held chuppah for $250 versus renting a free-standing chuppah for $800-$1000. You can pay for the cost of your officiant just by using a less-expensive chuppah (and the hand-held ones, by the way, are beautiful!)
- Reconsider your venue. There are beautiful venues out in Glen Mills that can be rented for $3000. That’s a far cry from the $6000 or $10,000 routinely charged in Center City. In fact, some of the most beautiful weddings I have attended have been the lower-budget varieties, including a few that were held in the backyards of friends’ homes.
I’m sure you can find more great budget advice out there, too. Those are just two easy ones that come to mind.
Good luck on your search. As we say in Hebrew, Hazak, hazak, hanithazek: May we all go from strength to strength!