In this economy, couples are sensitive to all pricing. Venue, catering, flowers, photography, limousine, MC/DJ, chairs, linens, officiant, etc. can all add up to a comfortable, pricey or completely unaffordable total. Often, the reality of “unaffordable” comes as a complete surprise only after you incur the cost. A word to the wise bride and groom: if the cost of your wedding is coming out of your pocket, plan it out before committing to contracts. Don’t be pressured into buying right now unless you know know for a fact that the service you really want will be lost if you hesitate. The oldest selling close in the book is “You must act now or this opportunity may not be here tomorrow.” It may not be, but make sure there is not an alternative available from another provider or firm.
Every service is different: different levels of quality, different competencies, different histories and reliability, different abilities. Of course you will leave yourself enough lead time to get this all done, but you must call to decide initially if you want to interview the provider, then conduct a face to face interview (best) or if you are traveling to a destination wedding venue, conduct the interview by phone. Skype and similar phone services allow you to do this easily by setting up the appointment by email and then keeping the appointment by phone or video phone call. I have booked weddings from Norway and Scotland to Illinois and Wisconsin this way because Tampa is a Gulf of Mexico destination wedding venue and a port from which cruises depart. The difference between providers is what will help you decide. You can learn a lot by hearing someone speak and looking them in the eyes. Trust your gut.
Officiant pricing is often an after-thought compared to the other wedding services. Really, many couples just think about being married and not who will marry them. For others, their pastor will officiate, of course. For couples not attached to a church or couples coming to a venue outside their immediate area, the officiant is “merely” the person who will say some words and sign their license to officially say the couple is married under the law. Religious officiants may require that they perform a religious ceremony, so couples who want no mention of god or only minor religious reference need to discover this and stay clear. A Justice of the Peace will marry you outside the court in a civil ceremony, and this will do the job. In Florida and two other states, a notary public can officiate weddings, and many officiate full-time or as a part-time hobby.
If the words said at your wedding ceremony will have meaning to you beyond “just getting married” (the Commitment you say “I do” to, the Vows you make to each other, the Rings you exchange along with your promises, and the tone with which this is all done), then I suggest you check around for officiant pricing and what you will get for that, and carefully check your chosen officiant’s references and testimonials before committing to an officiant. An officiant can make or break your ceremony, and your ceremony is the serious beginning to a lifetime celebration.