Choosing Your Wedding Officiant

    Megan . April 20th, 2021

    There are many key aspects to consider when planning a wedding, such as the venue, photography, and catering. However, one key participant that often doesn’t get the attention he or she deserves, is the wedding officiant!  No matter where you decide to have your wedding or what type of ceremony you opt for, you need someone to officiate the wedding.  It’s important to find an officiant that is right for your desired ceremony!

    Bride and Groom Holding Hands in Front of Officiant

    The Role of the Officiant

    Without question, the officiant has an essential part to play in the wedding ceremony. He or she presides over and sets the tone of the ceremony and makes the pronouncement that the couple is married. Yet wedding officiants aren’t simply announcers. They perform an official function and ensure that the marriage is legal. He or she needs to have the legal authorization to perform a marriage ceremony.

    Depending on whether your wedding is going to be religious or secular, you can choose from the following types of officiants.

    • Religious – Traditional marriage ceremonies are officiated by a religious figure such as a priest, minister, or rabbi.
    • Non-denominational – This is someone who has a religious or spiritual message but doesn’t represent a specific faith.
    • Civic – Secular weddings can be officiated by a civic officiant who is authorized by a local or state government to perform the ceremony.

    What to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Officiant

    Choosing the appropriate officiant for a wedding can be simple or complicated. This often comes down to the backgrounds and preferences of the couple and, in some cases, their families. It’s always simpler when everyone has the same vision for the wedding. However, it is not uncommon for differences of opinion to arise in this area.  Here are some of the most important points to consider.

    • Religious vs. Civic. This is the biggest consideration. If everyone hails from the same tradition, whether religious or secular, the choice is usually straightforward. However, if there are significant differences of faith, it may be necessary to compromise. One potential option is to have a non-denominational religious ceremony.
    • Style and personality. Even two officiants from the same tradition may have very different styles. For example, some have a formal and serious tone while others are more casual or humorous. It is important that you feel comfortable with the person who will be officiating the wedding.
    • Traditional or customized wedding vows. Some couples create their own vows or have a customized message while others are content to have traditional words recited. Therefore, it is important that the person you choose be accommodating to your preferences in vows.

    Bride & Groom Getting Married at SoHo63

    Where Can You Find a Wedding Officiant?

    Most couples have never given any thought to where to find a wedding officiant until they are planning their own wedding. But just like any other service or need, the internet will have a lot of information and how to contact officiants for hire. In addition to online searches, there are other ways that can help you find the right person.

    • Ask married friends and acquaintances for recommendations. You can casually ask people you know, who officiated their wedding and if they were happy with the results.
    • If you’ve chosen a venue, ask the owner, manager, or event planner to suggest officiants. They likely have developed a feel for the tone of your wedding based on the arrangements you’ve been making with them. Plus, they have probably seen dozens, if not hundreds, of officiants in action!
    • Check out reviews. If you do end up relying on Google to help you find someone, check out previous customer reviews to help you decide.
    • Get a friend or family member to officiate.  However, if you want someone in your circle to take on this role, give them plenty of notice so they can obtain the necessary authorization.

    Bride & Groom with Officiant and Wedding Party

    Tips for Choosing the Right Officiant

    Every couple should discuss this issue in some detail and consider multiple candidates. Here are some guidelines to help you find someone who is the perfect fit for your wedding.

    • Have an open and honest discussion with your fiancé about what is important to each of you. Talk about things like; how formal or casual you want the ceremony to feel, if either of you have a preference on whether the officiant is male or female, do you want the officiant to show a sense of humor or be more serious.
    • Interview several potential officiants. Make sure they have ample experience, are available on the date of your wedding, and have the right style for your needs.
    • Ask about cost for officiant service and what forms of payment are accepted. With religious officiants, this may be a voluntary donation.
    • Make sure you clarify every point regarding the ceremony. It’s important that the couple and officiant are on the same page on every issue. For example, if you’re having a religious ceremony, ask if they plan on quoting any particular passages. If you want to write your own vows, make sure they are amenable to this. How much can you change the order of events? Can you add or omit parts or certain words?

    Make Sure the Ceremony Proceeds as Planned

    Ok, you’ve chosen your wedding officiant and everything is planned, what is next?  You should still make sure that you’ve covered all bases. You don’t want any surprises during the ceremony. It’s best to discuss everything in detail, whether you’re acquainted with the officiant or not.

    • Legality.  If the officiant is an ordained religious or civic authority, you probably have nothing to worry about.  However, if you are going a less conventional route, you should do your research. For example, if a friend is going to officiate, make sure they understand the requirements, which can vary significantly by state. Leave sufficient time for any paperwork to get processed and make sure everyone knows who is responsible for each part of the process.
    • The content of the wedding ceremony.  If the couple is going to write the ceremony, you need an officiant who is open to this. If they are going to write it, or use a prepackaged ceremony, you’ll want to look it over and make sure it’s what you want. Either way, the couple and the officiant should all be 100% clear on what is going to be said during the ceremony.
    • Length of the ceremony. Do you want a quick and simple ceremony or one that is more elaborate?  If your vision is a long ceremony filled with quotations and scripture passages, you don’t want to select an officiant whose style is to wrap it all up in five minutes.
    • Timing. You will want to make sure your officiant is aware of the timing of any parts of the ceremony where music will be played or particular unity ceremonies will happen.
    • Reference notes for the officiant. Discuss with them the manner in which they will deliver the wording of your ceremony. Often officiants will reference or read the words that they will say. If it is at all important to you, there should be no surprises if your officiant reads from a piece of paper, a religious text, or a tablet.
    • Attire of the officiant. You probably won’t have much of a choice with certain religious officiants as they will likely be wearing clothing traditional to their faith. But with secular officiants, discuss what you would like them to wear. Their attire should be more neutral and not a focal point. Their attire also should not clash with your wedding party or décor and should be in keeping with the formality of your ceremony.

    While the officiant is usually only front and center for a brief period of time relative to your wedding day…he or she can really make that moment special and in line with what you and your fiancé had envisioned. Taking a few extra steps to find the right wedding officiant can make your wonderful day even more special!

    Happy Bride & Groom at SoHo63

    Getting The Most Out Of Your Wedding Photography

    Megan . October 9th, 2020

    As magical as your wedding day will be, despite all the research, resources, planning and additional efforts put into it by all…the wedding itself will be over in a single day. This is why getting the most out of your wedding photography is so important.

    Wedding photography immortalizes this very special occasion and allows you and your loved ones to revisit it over and over again. As is the case, it’s so key to think carefully about every decision regarding the way your wedding will be photographed.

    Photo by Monique Hessler Photography
    Photo by Monique Hessler Photography

    Identify Your Preferred Style
    The first step is to come up with an idea of how you want your wedding to be photographed. For most, this type of research is a lot of fun. You can check out wedding magazines, websites, social media accounts and photographers’ portfolios for inspiration and to determine different looks or styles that you and your partner like. For example, you may like the more light and airy style or perhaps the moody style of photography with deeper contrast and colors. The important thing is to find a look or style that fits you and your husband to be.

    In some cases, you may already have a fairly clear idea of what you like and want. But unless you’re a photographer yourself, we feel there is value in being openminded as you listen to thoughts and tips from wedding photographers as they are the professionals in this area.

    While you may be able to research what your favorite styles of wedding pictures are called, it is still a good idea to collect photos of these preferred wedding shots to review with potential photographers. Some photographers are well versed in a variety of styles and looks, while others specialize in certain styles. If a wedding photographer says they can provide that for you, it is appropriate to ask to see some of their work, shot in that style.

    Consider the Setting
    Some other factors that can lean you towards a particular photographer are environmental elements, such as, the venue, lighting and time of day. It is always best to be clear on most of these elements before choosing a photographer. The same photographer likely will not be the best match for every setting. Some photographers specialize in indoor or outdoor venues, for example. On the other hand, if you’re committed to a certain photographer, you can consult with him or her about lighting and other details specific to that venue, location or time of day.

    Choose the Right Photographer
    As we continue to expand, it is easy to see how choosing your photographer will be one of the biggest decisions you will make regarding your wedding. So, you will want to find someone who’s in sync with your vision and preferences. While you want to book a desirable photographer sooner than later, it is still recommended that you spend a little time, researching, comparing and vetting them out.

    • Set your budget. You naturally want to choose the best of everything, but you also need to consider what’s affordable. Compare the rates of some wedding photographers and come up with a budget that is realistic.
    • Study their work. In the era of websites, social media, and Instagram Stories, it’s easier than ever to research a photographer’s portfolio. Keep in mind that many photographers are able to work in multiple styles. For this reason, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a few shots. Take the time to go through their work so you get an overall idea of their capabilities.
    • Be clear about who will actually be photographing your wedding. If you’re dealing with an individual photographer or small agency, this isn’t usually an issue. Larger studios, however, may employ multiple photographers who may have different styles. You don’t want to choose a photographer based on a portfolio only to find out that someone else shows up to shoot your wedding.
    • Ask plenty of questions. There’s more to photography than the pictures. There’s also the photographer’s working style. Do they stage shots or prefer to capture natural moments? Have they shot at your selected venue before, and are they familiar with the area? The photographer is an iconic presence at a wedding so make sure you’re comfortable with their personality and mode of working.
    • Know what’s included. Pricing for wedding pictures can be more complicated than it first appears. Most photographers offer several options depending on what you want. There are a whole range of extras that may or may not be included in a particular package. If you want photos for events such as the rehearsal dinner, you may need to upgrade your package. You should also inquire about extra fees such as travel if the photographer isn’t in your city. Finally, ask about post-production work and album design.

    Consider an Engagement Photo Session
    Having an engagement or pre-wedding photo shoot can help you get acquainted with your photographer and help you and your future spouse feel comfortable with being photographed. This session can be held months before the wedding and somewhere other than your selected wedding venue to provide an array of photo backdrops. Many professional wedding photographers include an engagement shoot in your wedding photography package. It can make you feel more confident when the actual wedding takes place.

    Photo by Monique Hessler Photography
    Photo by Monique Hessler Photography

    Prime the Guests
    We have seen wedding guests sometimes get in the photographer’s way. They may try to capture their own shots with their smartphones or just not pay attention to where they stand or walk. While you don’t want to give wedding guests a long list of rules and prohibitions, at the same time, you can gently advise them to give the photographer the space he or she needs. A good way to accomplish this is by having an “unplugged” sign for the guests to see when they enter. “Unplugged” signs are a wonderful way to encourage your guests to put their phones away and be fully present for your wedding. Another approach is to request that the officiant or DJ make that announcement prior to the beginning of the ceremony. Either or both have become commonplace in today’s weddings.

    Enjoy Your Special Day!
    You can and should make the necessary preparations for getting the best possible wedding photos. At the same time, you don’t need to spend your wedding day hyper-vigilant about the photographer and whether you’re striking the right poses. The photographer will ask you to pose for certain shots. Beyond this, the best photos are usually the most spontaneous ones. Yes, photography is a big part of your wedding, but the live event is still the main thing. So, the best advice for the wedding day is to keep your attention on each other and let the professionals take care of the rest!

    Photo by Step on Me Photography
    Photo by Step on Me Photography

    Weddings During Covid-19

    Megan . October 7th, 2020

    Weddings During Covid-19

    First and foremost, let us congratulate you on your engagement! We are so excited to be a part of your big day. We understand that you may be nervous about planning a wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopefully we can shed some light on things to ease your fears. Although we have to be diligent and more cautious while maintaining the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, it is important to remember that some of the most significant aspects of weddings during this time are not drastically different from weddings you may have attended or read about during pre-COVID times. For example, you still get to walk down the aisle, exchange vows, dance with your new spouse, take silly photos, and make beautiful, long-lasting memories. These are just some of the wonderful things that happen during a wedding day that will still shine through!

    As we all know, there are going to be a few adjustments and differences as we need to take several precautions in order to keep everyone as safe as possible and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


    One considerable difference will be that the guest count of your event is likely to be lower than it would have been before COVID-19. This is due to some guests being older or otherwise having pre-existing health conditions and needing to exercise more caution as it pertains to travel and attending events with other people. It is understandable that they may be unable to take the risk of going your event, despite our precautionary measures, and it is also important to respect that.

    It is also possible that your final guest count may vary as a result of last-minute cancellations due to the dynamic nature and trends of the virus. For instance, if a guest begins to feel ill leading up to your event, they might cancel at the last minute for the sake of everyone else. On a positive note, we are able to be prepared for this possibility while planning the event. Although it is unfortunate that not everyone will be able to attend your event, we like to suggest that you consider that they will be there in spirit. As these are unprecedented times, it doesn’t hurt to think outside of the box! Through the magic of smartphones and social media, perhaps those unable to make it, might be able to catch a glimpse of an image or video online. Your desire to allow this kind of access and participation can be discussed with a family member or friend to allow them to interface with absent guests via a watch party or with an app like Facetime. Announcements communicating your wishes can be coordinated with your wedding planner, officiant, or DJ.

    Safety & Facemasks

    Your safety and the safety of all your guests are a priority for us. To ensure that everybody is as safe as possible, we have been practicing an abundance of caution while hosting weddings and other events.

    As recently as six months ago, we might have found it quite odd to be at any event and see people wearing facemasks. In fact, could you imagine prior to COVID, wedding guests seeing the staff all coming in wearing masks? That would have been unusual and worrisome.

    But during current times, wearing a facemask is quite commonplace. And not only is it accepted; it’s expected in situations where there is a group of people gathering. If our servers were to not wear masks, not only would we be breaking guidelines set out by the CDC, but we could be making many of your guests uncomfortable.

    To maintain a high level of professionalism, our vendors and servers will be in matching masks to provide a cohesive look that matches their uniforms.

    Even if it is not required, it is encouraged that guests wear masks and the staff can enforce such guidelines at the request of the wedding party.

    Physical Distancing

    In addition to both our servers and vendors wearing masks, we are following physical distancing guidelines set up by the CDC.

    One of the main guidelines from the CDC is to maintain a social distance from one another. This is because maintaining a safe distance from one another helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, we have come up with many ways to provide options for guests to physically distance themselves from one another without taking away the look and ambiance of your wedding. For instance, we provide distanced seating within the ceremony so that individuals can be physically distant while witnessing you walk down the aisle. In addition, we are spacing the tables in a manner so there is a minimum of six feet between them. Doing this allows you to be at a close distance to individuals you feel safe around but be distanced from other guests.

    One innovation that has come up because of coronavirus are color-coded wristbands. The wristband system allows individuals to decide on their own and then wordlessly communicate with others their level of comfort in interactions. For instance, a red wristband could mean that you are asking others to keep their distance and not to touch you, however, another color would indicate that you are open to being greeted with a hug or handshake. These wristbands help avoid awkward conversations and uncertainty. They discreetly allow individuals to feel free and safe while attending your event. And most importantly, they help us respect one another.

    All of these changes may seem daunting, and like you, we look forward to a day when these precautions are no longer necessary. But we can assure you that not even COVID-19 can derail you and your loved ones from some of the most incredible memories from your wedding. Hopefully, you are not going to remember tables being six feet apart. You are going to remember being surrounded by your friends and family. And most importantly…you are going to remember the celebration of your love on this very special day.