When I’m helping couples plan their elopement day, this question often comes up: “should we hire a professional or can we have a friend do it?”. Honestly, in some cases, there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here. Friends and professionals alike can be great options for a multitude of reasons. Listen, I know I’m photographer and not an officiant, but hear me out! I’ve worked in both situations. Your friends can create a beautiful, personalized ceremony for you but hiring a professional certainly has its advantages. Scroll down to read more!
(Btw.. If you’re wondering HOW to elope in the Asheville area, click here)
There’s just a certain level of “je ne sais quoi” pro officiants bring to your elopement or intimate wedding. They’re going to guide you through the whole ceremony process with confidence and expertise. Most write a custom script just for you and they can provide additional ceremony rituals to make your ceremony extra special, unique, and intentional (i.e. handfasting, wine box ceremony, sage smudging, etc). Not to mention, you know they’ll be comfortable speaking in public (or just in front of you.. and maybe your closest friends and family, too)!
Another level of professionalism is more photography focused (no pun intended). Have you ever seen someone’s first-kiss photo and there’s just an awkward person standing in the background? A professional officiant knows to move out of the way for that first-kiss photo so it can just be the two of you without the creeper in the background. Also, most officiants will move away during your vow readings if you wrote your own and you’re not doing a call and response style vows, too. This makes your photographs a ton better!
“Hiring a professional is a way to take away stress you didn’t even know was there. I ask my couples questions they didn’t know were things to think about so that way when the time for the ceremony comes it is seamless, stress free, and a moment they can be truly present.” – Vanessa Allen LaRotonda, Owner/Officiant, Adventure Officiant
Specifically in North Carolina where I typically work, you have to have an ordained officiant (and 2 witnesses) to make your marriage legal. NC does not technically recognize online ordination so if your friend went online and got ordained through Universal Life Church, there is a chance your marriage could be invalid. Make sure you’re getting a legit officiant defined by the law in NC as “an ordained minister of any religious denomination, a minister authorized by a church, or a magistrate”.
Not religious? That’s OK! Many of the officiants I work with don’t have any religious affiliation and are ordained through The Humanist Society and are accorded the same rights and privileges granted by law to priests, ministers, and rabbis of traditional theistic religions in North Carolina…
Religious affiliation or not, any officiant I recommend to you will be legit! Don’t worry! Which leads me to my next point…
OK, say you go through all the steps to get married only to find out your paperwork was filed or filled out incorrectly?! (This is especially concerning if you’re from another state!) What?! WTF do you do now?! Well, a professional officiant will not only make sure your paperwork is filed correctly, but they’ll also be a guide to help ensure you’re doing the necessary things leading up to your ceremony, too. Legit officiants know the ins and outs of our Register of Deeds offices to help you gain better understanding of how to file for your marriage license, etc.
Finally! Your big day has arrived! Up until now you’ve been so focused on the final details and trying to remember your rings, bouquet and boutonniere (these two are most often forgotten, btw), and vow books, etc that you almost forget the most important thing — HOLY CRAP! I’m getting MARRIED today! Then the anxiety hits and suddenly the nerves set in. An officiant is going to help ground you and help with the stress of it all.
“As a professional wedding officiant, I help calm your nerves and ground you in the present moment so your ceremony is magical and memorable.” – Amanda, Owner, Lead Officiant, Happily Ever Asheville
I hope these tips help if you’re on the fence about hiring a professional officiant for your day!
Hey there! I’m Laura Sparks, owner/photographer here at Sparks in the Forest. I help rad couples just like you have a day that is relaxed, intentional, and fun. There is so much to consider when you’re eloping! I’m here to ease the stress.
I provide epic and heartfelt photography for couples who love the outdoors but I’m more than just your photographer. I help you navigate the entire elopement process. If you’re considering eloping in the Asheville, NC area, reach out! You can learn more by clicking below!