Preparing for the unexpected

I hope this never happens to you, but I’ve received quite a few calls this year from couples who have had their officiant cancel on them. Whatever the reason, and I’m sure there are some good ones, this is really terrible. Imagine everything set for your big day and suddenly your minister is no longer available.

To minimize the chance of this happening, treat your officiant no differently than any other vendor you are hiring.

You should have a contract agreement, and he or she should clearly communicate with you before the ceremony – as frequently as needed. Your minister, rabbi, priest, other type of officiant should know who you are, and respect your beliefs. At the very, very minimum he or she should have some sense of who you are and certainly know how to pronounce your names. I have heard a lot of stories about a minister getting the bride or groom’s name wrong. Yikes!

I'm happy to say I've never missed a ceremony (photo: Garth Woods)

It is my opinion that your officiant is responsible for finding a suitable replacement if they are unable to perform the ceremony. Ask them about this when you are interviewing or hiring them.

And in an extreme-case scenario, have a friend or family member to stand in. Explain to your guests you will get the legal end tied up by a judge or someone else at the earliest possible date, but you still intend to exchange your vows and rings and make some kind of statement of your commitment before your family and friends. After all, this is a big part of the meaning of a wedding ceremony. Otherwise you would have simply eloped!

However, you cannot be pronounced as husband and wife, unless the person is legal to sign your license. And you are not married until that paper is signed by someone legal to sign it and filed in the courthouse. But there is nothing to prevent you from having a ceremony expressing your love and commitment.

I hope this never happens to you, but if it does, perhaps this article will help you be better prepared.



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