Wedding Pastor, Wedding Minister, Wedding Officiant In Phoenix, AZ


How does a wedding pastor or wedding minister or wedding officiant differ in Arizona than other states?  If someone is looking to travel to Arizona to get married, what would you want to look for in choosing that person to actually marry you?

  1. Someone who has embraces technology to communicate with you over email, FaceTime, Skype, and Facebook the months and days before arriving in AZ
  2. Someone who has worked at all the venues in town so they can help you know what to expect at that particular venue.  Each venue and wedding director is different.
  3. Someone who doesn’t make you feel like you’re “bugging” them with questions and asking for advice.
  4. Someone who is willing to go the extra mile for you to make your day perfect.
  5. Someone who is going to respect your church background (or your lack of church background).  

Top 10 Things to Look For in a Wedding Pastor

The wedding pastor (or wedding minister or wedding officiant) is the one “vendor” who needs to be much more than a vendor to you and your partner.  He or she is going to provide very personal advise for your marriage and stand with you while you exchange your most intimate vows to each other.

So with that said, here are the top ten things you need to look for in a wedding pastor:

  1. Kind and gracious
  2. Warm and nurturing
  3. Competent public speaker
  4. Experienced in wedding ceremonies
  5. A “real pastor” not an Internet ordained “minister”
  6. Successful in his or her own marriage
  7. Open to your ideas
  8. Has many of his or her own ideas for you to choose from
  9. Will not make the ceremony about him or her
  10. Will make time for you to discuss your marriage not just your wedding

Questions to ask when choosing a wedding officiant in Phoenix, Arizona


Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Wedding Minister

by Bill Yaccino20130216-155010.jpg

So you’re looking for a wedding minister, eh? Not as easy as it sounds, right?

The officiant you choose should match your personal style and the type of wedding ceremony that you’d like to have. For instance, you may not choose the same minister for an informal wedding in the park versus a formal religious ceremony in a church. Your ceremony is the spiritual heart and soul of your wedding day. Yet, many people are uncertain about how to choose an officiant. Some couples are initially intimidated when talking with the person who may be partnering with them on one of the most important days of their life. If you and your fiancé are already members of an established church, then the choice is easy. But if neither of you has an affiliation with a local church, you’ll want to be looking for a minister who can serve you well on your special day. Here are some tips on where to look and what to ask.

How did you find your officiant?

If you receive a referral from a close family member, there may be a strong expectation that you simply accept this person as the one who will tie your knot. Referrals from friends or people you find on your own usually have fewer “strings attached.” In any event, remember that this is your wedding day, and while your families are welcome to share their ideas and opinions, the final decision must rest with the two of you. Thank your family member for the recommendation, tell them your fiancé may also be getting ideas from his or her side of the family, and assure them that the two of you will choose a minister who is best for everyone concerned.

Do you like this minister?

Do you like their voice? Is their voice soothing or shrill? Does he or she speak slowly and clearly? Are they relational and relatable? Remember, the officiant is communicating the special words and significance of your wedding ceremony to every single guest. If the voice is too soft, be sure that amplification is provided. The voice must be able to carry to the last row of guests, and hold their interest.

Is the minister flexible?

Can you write your own vows or add other special touches? Do you want a little humor in the ceremony? Can you use contemporary readings or are they required to be religious or scripture readings? Even if you don’t know up front what kind of wedding ceremony you want, are you confident that your officiant will allow for changes as the wedding day approaches? Will they work with you to develop a ceremony which honors the religious traditions and beliefs of both families while still speaking meaningfully to the two of you? For example, if you were raised Christian and your fiancé is Jewish, is the minister willing to read a passage from the Old Testament instead of a New Testament scripture? Will the minister allow flash photography during the wedding (usually this will help make the pictures look better)?

What is your minister’s background?

The government doesn’t issue licenses to ministers. That’s why pastors in our network are all aligned with a local church that issues their license or ordination to perform sacradotal functions. Ask how many weddings they have performed. This is not always the best indicator as many young pastors are just beginning to serve couples in this way, yet they may be very authentically engaged with the couple and do an outstanding job. Older pastors offer the most experience and warmth, but make sure they are interested in you as a couple, not just going through the motions. What other pastoral work do they engage in?

Are you also looking for a church to attend?

Some people are looking for a lifelong relationship with a minister and a church. Others just want a minister to officiate their wedding. Be clear about your preference, but be open to new relationships that may influence and impact your marriage for many years! If you are looking for a church group and a pastor, ask if you can attend an upcoming service. If not, say so, and see if that works for the minister you are considering.

What if you are living together?

If you and your fiancé are living together, already have children, are expecting a child, or if either of you have been through a divorce, it is important to tell the prospective officiant your situation during your first phone conversation. Some officiants have no problem with this and see it as an opportunity for you to take a step closer to a fully committed relationship. Others may require that you move into separate apartments, or express other expectations. It is better to find this out soon. Consider these factors when deciding if this is the officiant you want. For some people, this is an opportunity to begin fresh and invite the presence of God into their lives – but this is for the two of you to decide.

Is premarital counseling required?

Some couples want counseling, and others do not feel it is necessary. Counseling programs are only as good as your willingness to deeply participate. If you are simply fulfilling an obligation by attending premarital sessions, you will most likely not gain from them. While many do not require it, most of the pastors in our network either offer premarital counseling or will suggest going through the marriage enrichment program offered by Life Innovations called Couple Checkup. This is a wonderful program that is completed online in the privacy of your home. The results may be shared with your pastor or counselor if you desire. Research shows that couples who invest in this type of marriage enrichment are 31% more likely to succeed in their marriage.

How much do we pay our minister?

The ministers in our network will ask for a set fee. In the past, ministers would perform these services for a donation, but that becomes confusing for couples not familiar with church practices. We find it easiest to set a fee based on the area, the complexity of the ceremony, and the amount of time spent with a couple. You can expect fees to range between $300-$600.

How many times do we meet with our minister?

Most ministers will want to meet with you at least once so they can get to know you and you can get to know them. Others require premarital counseling with multiple sessions. Some will offer one or two preparatory meetings and a rehearsal. What do you want? Can the officiant meet your wishes? Will the officiant be available to talk by phone as questions arise? Can you trust them with personal information if you just need someone to talk to about personal matters? If possible, find an officiant who is as helpful as you want him or her to be but not overbearing.

Will the officiant be at the rehearsal?

An experienced officiant at your wedding rehearsal can be very helpful, but he or she may not be available at the scheduled time. If the minister is unable to attend the rehearsal, do they have other arrangements for someone to help organize things? We always suggest that you do not run a rehearsal yourself without some advance practical help! Many banquet facilities also have an assistant there to help. If so, the best way to run a rehearsal is to have the wedding coordinator help walk you all up to the front, then have the officiant rehearse the ceremony itself, and finally have the coordinator direct the recessional march at the end.

Should I invite our minister to the rehearsal dinner or reception?

If the officiant has a long-term pastoral relationship with you or the family, by all means issue an invitation. Otherwise, the decision is entirely yours to make. Many officiants politely decline the invitation, so if you want them to attend, it may be best to ask casually first.

What will our minister wear for the ceremony?

This may seem like a petty question, but it is a good one! Some officiants will wear a suit and tie (gray or black suits are best, because they blend in with any color scheme). Others wear ministerial robes. Ask to see the robe, or at least a picture, to see if it fits in with you style or preferences for your wedding day.

How elaborate will the ceremony preparations be?

A few officiants have only one ceremony they offer. If that is the case, be sure you get to read their ceremony and make sure it harmonizes with what you want said at your wedding. Others have a few simple choices (with the option of you adding some of your own ideas) so you can create the ceremony that most speaks to you. Most of the pastors in our network prefer to sit down and design a customized wedding just for you. Always ask how long they think the ceremony itself will take; this is critically important information for your facility, photographer, caterer, etc. Whatever you want, let the officiant know up front.

Do you feel taken care of?

The original meaning of the word “minister” is “servant.” Is this minister serving your needs on your big day? Are you comfortable in the minister’s presence, or do you always feel like you are hiding things so as not arouse his or her disapproval? Our pastors are eager to serve you and want your wedding day to be a beautiful and meaningful one for everyone.We hope these questions help you feel more comfortable and confident as you seek to find a minister to serve you on this most important of days! Blessings to you both, and may you remember your wedding ceremony as meaningful, fun and personal!

How to write your own wedding vows for a Phoenix wedding

20111217-112708.jpg Penning your own wedding vows is no easy task — it’s like writing poetry, public speaking and having the deepest conversation of your life all at once. Putting your promises on paper is an emotional, eye-opening and often extremely memorable experience. Up for the challenge? Here’s the homework you need to do (and the questions you should ask) to make your vows perfect.

Start Early

We can’t say this enough: Don’t leave writing your vows until the day before the wedding! You’ll be too nervous, excited and rattled to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month, or work on your vows in that pocket of time after you’ve set up all your major vendors and before you have to start thinking about the details. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, frame of mind. Some loose deadlines to aim for: Try to get a first draft together about three weeks before the wedding and have your final version completed at least two days out.

Look to Tradition

To get inspired, start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows — from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well — to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on.

weddingminister_chuckSet the Tone

Before putting pen to paper, decide what overall tone you want to achieve. Humorous but touching? Poetic and romantic? It’s your call — the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they’re from your heart. One word of advice: While your vows can be lighthearted (or even hilarious), they should, in some way, acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you’re about to make. One way to do that is to weave little jokes into traditional vows (for example: “I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch Monday Night Football with you”).

Figure Out the Logistics

Make sure you and your fiance are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you’re writing them separately, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? If you’re writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you’ve written to your officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.

Make a Vow Date

When it’s time to come up with the actual content of your vows, go out to dinner or set aside an evening at home to brainstorm. Talk about your relationship and what marriage means to each of you. Discuss what you expect from each other and the relationship. What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges do you envision in your future? What do you want to accomplish together? What makes your relationship tick? Answering these questions will help you make and keep your promises, and talking about your bond may expose your inner Wordsworth and help you come up with phrases and stories you can incorporate into your vows.

Schedule Some Alone Time

After chatting with your future spouse, take some self-reflection time to think about how you feel about your partner. What did you think when you first saw them? When did you realize you were in love? What do you most respect about your partner? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What about them inspires you? What do you miss most about them when you’re apart? What qualities do you most admire in each other? What do you have now that you didn’t have before you met? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.

Steal Ideas

Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts — even from romantic movies. Jot down words and phrases that capture your feelings. Widely recognized works ring true for a reason.

Create an Outline

An outline can get you started by helping to establish a structure. For example, plan to first talk about how great your fiance is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your promises to each other.

Remember Your Audience

Don’t make your vows so personal that they’re cryptic — or embarrassing! You’ve invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.

Time It Right

Don’t make them too long — aim for about one minute or so (it’s longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn’t mean they should go on for hours. Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you with your vows; pick the most important points and make them well. Save some thoughts for the reception toasts — and for the wedding night.

Practice Out Loud (Seriously!)

These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences — you don’t want to get out of breath or stumble.

How to choose a wedding officiant in Arizona?

Finding the right person to marry you is an important decision – after all, they will have a huge influence on the tone of the ceremony. You’ll want to make sure that you find someone who is willing to perform the kind of ceremony you are envisioning, or who has a style and belief system similar to your own. And of course, if you want to make it legal, you’ll need to make sure that they are legally able to marry you in your state.

The first most basic thing you and your intended bride or groom must do is decide if you want a religious or secular ceremony. This highly personal decision will have great impact for who will marry you.

Finding a Secular Officiant for Your Wedding

A Justice of the Peace Contact the county clerk’s office where you will get your marriage license. They should have a list of local Justices of the Peace who are willing to perform wedding ceremonies. You can, of course, look in the phone book, but it’s better to get the referral from someone who knows for sure that they are legally certified. Start by calling the ones close to you to get a sense of their personality, then ask if you can meet with them to get a better sense of the kinds of weddings they perform.

At City Hall Here, finding the person to marry you is typically easy. You’ll need to make an appointment and be willing to be married in a speedy fashion – no long drawn-out sermons here! Call your local city hall and they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

A Friend or Relative This is fast becoming a popular option, as couples look for a more personal element in their ceremony. In some states such as California, a friend can get a one day designation of Deputy Commissioner of Marriages to perform weddings for a $35 cost. Others have chosen to get ordained on the internet, but before you choose this option, you’ll want to talk to your county clerk’s office or Secretary of State’s office to make sure that it is recognized in your state. Furthermore, make sure that the person you are choosing understands the seriousness of the task you are giving them. You won’t want a drunk friend making inappropriate jokes at one of the most important moments of your life.

Finding a Religious Officiant for Your Wedding

If you already have a family clergy 20120605-175133.jpgperson, or you’re getting married in a house of worship, your choice is easy. I suggest still meeting with that person to discuss the questions below and making sure you’re comfortable with them.

Otherwise, you’ll need to decide first what denomination best fits with your beliefs. Once you’ve done that, contact your local house of worship to ask if their religious rules allow them to marry people in secular settings. You might attend some worship services to get a sense of different officiants’ styles, then meet with them to make sure that they are available on your date, and amenable to the type of wedding you envision. Like any important job, don’t just give it to the first interviewee! Talk to a couple different people and choose the one that you are the most comfortable with.

Some questions you might ask:

How much are we allowed to customize the ceremony? Can we write our own vows?

Will you marry us even if we are not current members of your church/synagogue/parish/temple/house of worship? How do we become members?

If we are of different faiths, or one of us is not religious, is that a problem?

One of us is divorced, does your religion allow you to marry us?

Will our non-religious friends be allowed to participate in the ceremony, including giving readings, singing, or (if appropriate) taking communion?

What is the difference between a wedding minister or pastor and a wedding officiant?

I am asked often the difference between a wedding minister and a wedding officiant. Although I hear the question often, it is a very good question.

In short, anyone who resides over a wedding and pronounces the couple married is an officiant. That man or woman could very well be a minister but not necessarily. They could be an attorney, and judges, justice of the peace, a chaplain, or simply a friend of the family.

Most people today still prefer a “minister” or “pastor.” Most couples still view the wedding ceremony as a spiritual event as well as a civil event. For that reason, I love to perform weddings because I view the event as a way to ask God to honor ad bless this relationship for years to come.


How to Choose a Wedding Minister

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best…

When choosing a minister or officiant for your wedding, you need to show up to the first meeting with a few questions for him or her. In fact, you may want some of those questions answered before you even take time to chat face to face. Of my many years of meeting with couples as an Arizona ordained minister, the following questions, I think, were some of the best:

  1. Are you a “real pastor” at a church? If so, which one?
  2. How long have you been a wedding minister? How long have you been a minister in a church?
  3. Do you require premarital counseling?
  4. Do you offer premarital counseling? If so, what kinds of things should we expect in our meetings with you? How much do those meetings cost?
  5. How many times would you like to meet with us before the wedding day?
  6. Is it a problem that our faith is different than yours?
  7. Are you open to our ideas with the wedding ceremony?
  8. How long will the entire ceremony be?
  9. What can we expect if you get sick and cannot be at our wedding? What is your back up plan?
  10. What will you wear at our ceremony? A robe or a suit?

Those are a few of the better questions asked. Because you don’t get married often, it’s good to arrive at your meeting with your own questions so you can make a good decision about who you are going to invite to marry you both.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is chemistry. In other words, do you feel comfortable with him or her? Do you like him or her? Did he or she make you feel good and positive? The answers to those questions come from your heart. All the other questions are important, but when it comes down to it, you must be happy with the man or woman officiating your wedding.

– Rev. Randy Williams