These days, many couples have moved away from their hometowns—meaning, they’re quite a distance from the house of worship in which they were raised. While those looking to have a religious wedding ceremony may have a new relationship with a local clergy member, there’s something so meaningful about having the priest, minister, or rabbi from your childhood perform your ceremony. Of course, that means asking him or her to travel to be a part of your celebration. So what do you need to know if your wedding officiant is coming in from out of town? We asked our experts for the key things you’ll need to keep in mind to accommodate your out-of-town religious officiant.
Before you make a call to your childhood minister, asking if he or she is available to perform your wedding ceremony, check with the ceremony venue you’ve chosen. If you’re lucky, it will be more than happy to have an officiant from another congregation perform the ceremony. It may be as simple as paying a fee to cover your venue’s help in organizing and coordinating the ceremony. Other houses of worship may be more strict and might require that one of its own clergymen stand alongside yours to assist with the ceremony. He or she probably will not perform any of the ceremony but will stand at the altar symbolically and assist if needed. Others may not allow outside officiants at all, so be sure to begin this conversation with your ceremony venue before you have made any official plans or put down a deposit.
Once you have permission to bring in your own religious officiant, begin by putting him or her in touch with the ceremony venue’s representative so they can discuss any requirements and specifics that your venue might have.
It’s also important to have a conversation with your officiant about any requirements he or she may have for your marriage. Some will require that the two of you complete a course of couples counseling, while others will want to have a few phone calls with you to talk about your relationship and work on personalizing your ceremony. This might be a little more challenging from a distance, but the meaning of having someone you know perform your ceremony will be worth it!
Finally, remember that you will have to include your officiant’s costs in your wedding budget. Because he or she is attending as a vendor, you will have to pay for travel, lodging, food, and any other needs surrounding your wedding. And unlike a local officiant, an out-of-town officiant must also receive an invitation to the wedding reception as a guest. Seat him or her with your parents or other friends or relatives he or she might know. If you are going to have a blessing over the meal before dinner is served, invite your officiant to perform that blessing as well.