"Congratulations!! You are engaged and enjoying the moment, as you should. Eventually as you float back down to earth the realization that wedding planning must begin starts to sink in. It's really important (and sometimes very challenging) to not let the "to do's" get in the way of the "I do's"! Remember the whole purpose of the wedding is to begin your marriage. The wedding is fun, but the marriage is forever.
Luckily there are a lot of great resources available to newly engaged couples that provide timelines for wedding planning. The average amount of time people spent planning their wedding is about 14.5 months according to The Knot. This is only an average and I have booked ceremonies anywhere from 2 years out to two weeks out! The sooner you book your wedding vendors, the better your chances of getting your first choice options.
If you are having your wedding at a place of worship, once booked, your officiant is usually a part of the package. However, many couples are choosing to have their ceremonies at their reception venue. Once you have selected the venue, it's not too soon to book your other major vendors. Photography, music, flowers and the officiant should be your next priority. Keep in mind that certain times of year are more popular then others. It's important, especially if you want to book your first choices, that you reach out to possible vendors as soon as you set your date.
Booking an officiant is a process. You should reach out to 2 or 3 that you are considering and learn about how they work with couples. Schedule consultations in person so that you can meet your potential officiant. Having good chemistry with the person you invite to marry you is important and adds to the sincerity of your ceremony.
Twelve months before your wedding day you should start researching officiants. Sites like Wedding Wire and The Knot provide profiles and reviews on officiants in your area. Usually you can find the link to an officiant's website through these sites. Make a list of those that give you a good first impression, dig a little deeper by reading the reviews and then create a short list of possibilities. Start with an email or phone call to see about scheduling a consultation. A good indicator of the type of service you will receive is the response time your officiant candidate takes to get in touch with you. It's the most important day of your life, you want your officiant (and all of your vendors) to be available to you for questions, etc.
Once you have scheduled a consultation or two, meet the officiants! Go armed with thoughts and questions. Ask about experience, how the officiant operates, marriage license, how the officiant handles rehearsal and wedding day, etc., etc., etc. Once you have attended the consultations, make your decision and book the officiant. In order to hire the best officiant for you, the best time frame to make your decision is 6-12 months out. Of course, don't be surprised if an officiant happens to have a date available with short notice! The main thing is that you read the reviews of your final choice so that you feel confident about your selection.
I am always available to answer your questions about wedding ceremonies and officiant searches. I love being a resource to newly engaged couples and welcome your inquiries!
My best advice is to keep in mind that all the little details are beautiful but the marriage is the main event and love is the main ingredient!!