Who can officiate your wedding ceremony?
Choosing who will be your wedding officiant is a big decision, so being informed about your options is, of course, a great idea.
Most often, Georgia weddings are religious ceremonies, and the officiant is a member of a religious group but is also recognized by the state as a valid wedding officiant. That leads us to option one!
No matter what religion you are, you should be able to consult with your church or religious group about a priest, minister, deacon, etc. performing your ceremony. If they are qualified to do so in your religious group, chances are they are also recognized by the state. Many people opt for this option if they are choosing to have a religious ceremony.
Having a judge be your officiant is an option in multiple ways. Of course, you can always do the old City Hall wedding! In order to do so, check with your local government to see what paperwork needs to be filed ahead of time. Once all of it’s complete, you can schedule a time to come in to hold the ceremony. Most states require at least 2 witnesses.
A judge can also be an officiant for your wedding OUTSIDE of the city hall. Most of the same paperwork would still need to be filed in advance, as you’d need to obtain a marriage license to have the judge sign. This is a great option if you don’t necessarily want a religious wedding, and you’d like for the ceremony to be short. Most judges performing ceremonies outside of City Hall are willing to work with different things you’d like to add into the ceremony, like readings or speeches from loved ones. There may be a fee involved in hiring a judge, and if there isn’t, a gift for their travels and time is usually proper etiquette.
A Secular Officiant
If you want a professional, but not necessarily one associated with a certain religion, you can begin the hunt for a secular officiant!
This is someone who is qualified to perform the ceremony but has no association with a particular religion. They’d be considered the “pros” of wedding ceremonies outside of churches, synagogues, etc. Most can offer you a lot of guidance when trying to determine how you want your ceremony to be laid out, how long it should be, etc. You can find them by searching online or asking in social media groups that are local to you!
Someone You Know
It’s becoming increasingly popular to ask a friend or family member to be the officiant at your wedding. There’s no way it can get more personal than that! You can choose whoever you’d like (assuming they’re on board), but of course, most couples opt for someone who knows both of them and their relationship very well.
In order for them to really be able to “make it official,” make sure you check with your state regulations to file any paperwork that is required. There are lots of websites that can walk you through things step by step, and some that even offer outlines for ceremonies!
Our advice is to pick someone you know is comfortable with public speaking and will take the job very seriously. You’ll want to plan the Georgia wedding ceremony carefully with them, and practice it a few times!