Getting Married? How to Choose an Interfaith Officiant

Congratulations! You have made the big decision; you are getting married! You come from different backgrounds or perhaps different countries. Your family has accepted/made peace with the decision/ empowered you both/ or is very troubled. Pick the option that fits you or add your own.

Now the search begins. How do you find an interfaith officiant? As you may or may not know most synagogue rabbis will not marry an interfaith couple in the synagogue itself. Reform rabbis can, at their discretion, perform the ceremony in an outside venue. Ministers generally will have an easier time than Catholic priests who often have to get permission to preside outside of the church. These are generalizations and of course there are many New York City officiants that don't fit into these categories.

If you know friends or family who have enjoyed a successful interfaith wedding, you should of course ask for recommendations. This is the single best way of knowing who you will work with since the couple is happy with him or her. But if you don't know anyone from a personal referral, head to the internet.

Armed with your iphone, ipad, laptop, etc. you start searching the net for interfaith officiants. It is important to check out their sites carefully, finding out how long they have been officiating, where they were ordained and of course what their philosophy on marriage and ceremonies is. Hopefully you can see pictures of them in action and testimonials. If any of this resonates with you both you should email or call the person and have a conversation on the phone. That will tell you a lot about the person and also whether you are comfortable with what they say. Are they willing to do a service that is creative and personal to you? Are they comfortable to work with a co-officiant if your fiance wants the other religion represented as well.

Here are additional questions to keep in mind:

~ Availability? Spring and summer weddings can be a busy time!
~ Do you sense warmth, kindness, connection, spirituality?
~ Experience: how many years has the person performed weddings, and are there good testimonials or references on their site?
~ Does the officiant accurately reflect and support your spiritual ideals and that of your fiancé? Does he or she have experience working with officiants of other faiths?
~ Will he or she meet with you and your fiancé before the wedding day?
~ Will the officiant be flexible with regard to the actual ceremony and focus on creating the ceremony that suits you both perfectly?
~ Is the wedding officiant warm and helpful during your interaction, whether on the phone or by email?
~ Is he or she willing to travel to your wedding location?
~ Is the price in your budget? Remember you get what you pay for, and this is one of the most important days of your life. You want to be sure you select someone who is a leader; he or she must be warm, kind, helpful, and able to soothe your nerves and support you.

Next step is meeting the person. You should have an emotional connection with the officiant. After all it is your wedding and you want someone who relates to both of you and listens to you. Listen to your heart. There are many people out there so you can interview a few but go with your gut feeling. Make sure you have a contract that itemizes date, time, fee and is signed by both parties. That way your date is reserved during a busy summer wedding season. You should try and meet together a few times to fashion the service and be comfortable that it is respectful to both faiths.
The right interfaith officiant realizes that couples choose interfaith ceremonies for their spiritually inclusive approach. It is a way of rejoicing in our differences and celebrating our communality in an atmosphere of love and respect. All should come away feeling honored and respected, with his or her uniqueness celebrated.

Try and give yourself as much time before the wedding to do this search. The ceremony should be the core of your special day and you want to employ the best person for you. All this takes time and some effort on your part but is well worth the time. I have officiated at interfaith weddings the last three years and have helped to make the day magical to many couples.

Happy hunting! And many blessings and great joy to you in your wedded life!


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