I ran across this excellent article today. It is by Joseph Francis Cano who is a non-denominational minister in California. Click here to see the original article and the author's other good information.
1. Don't Assume "Real" Ministers Are Always the Best Wedding Ministers.
The fact is theological seminaries are primarily academic institutions. I know this first hand. They earn accreditation based primarily on meeting academic requirements. Thus, those who earn degrees from these institutions are women and men who have demonstrated academic excellence and thus qualified to impart theological understanding to others through preaching, teaching, and church program administration. That is what seminaries are designed to do.
The problem is that many who are highly intuitive, relationally and spiritually discerning - that is, gifted people persons - are not necessarily academic scholars. Personal integrity, character, compassion, and sensitivity - the characteristics of great wedding ministers - can neither be taught nor objectively measured academically. Thus the most gifted, loving ministers might not make the grade academically.
The best wedding ministers are those who combine specialized training with developed ministry gifts.
2. Don't Be a Last-Minute Officiant Shopper
Many wedding planners wisely suggest securing your wedding minister should be one of the first things you do. Ideally you begin your search within a month or two of your engagement. The reason is simple: The best wedding ministers book up to a year or more in advance for peak season weddings.
3. Don't Make Price the Primary Determinant
This is a repeated theme because it is probably the most common pitfall. More than any other factor, this is the difference between a nice little wedding and the wedding of your dreams. I simply cannot stress this enough.
Let me try to explain this another way. "Good" should never aptly describe a wedding ceremony. A once-in-a-lifetime moment cannot be merely "good" or "fine" - "good" and "fine" happens every day. It should be described in terms such as "unforgettable," "incredible", "magical," or "beyond my wildest dreams."
Well, contrary to what some might think, it doesn't just happen. The "fairy-tale wedding of your dreams" is the hard-earned product of a wedding minister's dedication, inspiration, and perspiration. The "magic" you two want to experience is actually the result of much careful and deliberate preparation, cultivation, understanding, wisdom, and craftsmanship on the part of the wedding minister.
Not every wedding minister can deliver. Those who can usually cost a little more than those who can't (and generally are booked earlier). It's the wise bride and groom who invest a couple hundred dollars more here to secure what is arguably the single most important wedding professional of all.
Whatever you do, do not rob yourself, your husband or wife, and your marriage of the power, beauty, and lasting importance of this life moment by getting someone who simply lacks the training, knowledge, experience, and abilities to deliver.
4. Don't Assume a Fancy Website Means a Fantastic Wedding Minister
More and more people are being drawn into the wedding ministry business. Competition has forced ministers to become more marketing savvy. As a result, there are a great many more attractive, sophisticated, and professionally designed websites for wedding officiants than just three or four years ago. Depending on the web design company, these websites may or may not reveal more about the web design company than the wedding minister.