I get many calls from brides and grooms every week who are confused as to what my role as a wedding officiant is. The wedding industry has many different people who work in different capacities. In this blog post, I hope to clarify what the difference is between officiants, counselors, wedding planners and wedding coordinators and some other roles in the wedding business.
I am a wedding officiant which means I can officiate or perform the wedding ceremony. I also have the added benefit of being a specialized notary public who can act as a representative of the LA County Clerk’s office. Not all officiants are able to issue marriage licenses.
I also am an attorney, however, I cannot act as your attorney and be your officiant at the same time because that might give rise to a conflict of interest. However, because I am an attorney, I’m well-versed in marriage law and paperwork. Most people don’t realize that there is precise paperwork involved in filling out a marriage license. It’s second-nature to me.
I am often asked to be a wedding coordinator or wedding planner, but those are different roles from being an officiant. There are some officiants who try to do it all, but that’s not what I choose to do or am able to do. A wedding planner is usually someone who helps in the initial stages with ideas and the planning of organization. I can easily speak to you about your wedding location as I have been to practically every wedding venue in Southern California, but I am not well versed in the colors or the catering of your wedding. That I leave to the wedding planners.
A wedding coordinator is often someone who is also a wedding planner, someone who suggests and organizes all of the different wedding vendors and the wedding venue. He or she is typically very involved with every aspect of a wedding and takes an advisory role long before the date of the wedding.
I have a great relationship with several wedding coordinators who suggest me to officiate their couple’s weddings and to issue their marriage licenses. I have great respect for the best wedding coordinators because they must be diplomatic, empathetic and very organized and they must dedicate much more time to a couple’s wedding than a busy wedding officiant can.
Historically, engaged couples met with the clergy of their church or temple for wedding counseling to make sure that their marriage would work and then begin the marriage within the confines of their religion. Because of this many couples today think that they have to meet with me beforehand based on this tradition. It’s farthest from the truth.
Most of those couples are relieved to know that they do not have to meet with their officiant before the wedding ceremony. I have no church, nor am I qualified to provide counseling. I would leave this aspect of marriage to a professional couple’s counselor. Still, I am asked to provide this pre-ceremony counseling and I have to, in conscience, decline. I am always available to talk with you about all aspects of your wedding ceremony, but because Southern California is so sprawling it is much easier to phone, email and Skype.
I hope this post helps to clarify the differences between officiants, wedding coordinators, wedding planners and counselors. All of the positions are extremely helpful, but only the ones that I perform are essential.