Northeast Ohio Edition
If you’re like most couples planning a marriage, settling on your wedding officiant is one of the many decisions you’ll need to make. While many couples are forgoing a professional wedding officiant and having a friend or family member perform the ceremony, others still prefer a more traditional approach.
Whether or not you hire a professional wedding officiant for your wedding ceremony depends on several factors, like your personal preferences, the type of ceremony you envision, and your budget. Read on to learn the benefits of both options and get a personalized list of the best officiants in Northeast Ohio.
Should I Hire a Professional Wedding Officiant?
Deciding to hire a professional officiant is a personal choice. The main reason couples rely on a seasoned vet is that – well, it’s their job. You’ll get a level of professionalism and peace of mind from leaving your vows to a pro. Here’s a look at the benefits of having an experienced officiant perform your ceremony.
Expertise: Performing a wedding ceremony can be more complex than it looks. Professional officiants have the flow of wedding ceremonies down and are comfortable with public speaking.
Small details to consider:
- They are experienced with music elements or timing of music and transition.
- They know when to tell guests to stand or sit and take control of the ceremony.
- A pro won’t forget or stumble with the rings.
- Weddings are an unpredictable environment by nature. Distractions like crying kids, mumbling guests, or flying bugs won’t interfere with their rhythm.
Personalization: A pro can help you create a personalized ceremony that reflects your beliefs, values, and personalities. They can collaborate with you to create a ceremony that is unique and meaningful to you. For example, if you have a particular faith, you can get an officiant acquainted with your religious beliefs.
No Photobombs: Your wedding photos are the most important keepsake from your big day. Professional officiants consider where they locate themselves for photos to avoid blocking the couple or making the ceremony look awkward.
Guidance: When planning your wedding, you want to minimize things that could go wrong. A professional officiant can offer knowledge and advice you won’t get from an amateur. If you need help deciding on the length of your ceremony, want to work in different wedding traditions, or are worried about logistical challenges, hiring a professional can help ease your worries.
Legal Considerations: A professional wedding officiant in Ohio will be familiar with all the legal requirements. They can guide you through the legal process to ensure your marriage is legally recognized.
You Don’t Have to Ask for a “Favor”: If you ask a friend or family member, they have to “work” on your wedding day instead of enjoying being a guest. So although it could be wonderful to have your best friend ordained and marry you, consider that, while it would be an honor, you’re technically giving them work to do.
Should I Trust a Friend or Family Member to Perform My Wedding Ceremony?
There’s something special about asking a loved one to preside over your nuptials. If your heart is set on having a friend or family member officiate your wedding, there are ways to make it work and make it work well.
Before you ask a loved one to perform your service, ask yourself the following questions.
- Are they comfortable with public speaking?
- Can they manage the details, like the notes, the mic, rings, the unity ceremony, etc?
- Can they provide the tone and feel of the ceremony you envision?
- Are they comfortable getting ordained?
- Are they open to incorporating your unique ideas and preferences into the ceremony?
Let’s explore the benefits of having a novice officiant who is a friend or family member perform your ceremony.
Comfort Level: Having someone you know well as your officiant can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed during the ceremony. The personal connection with you and your wedding guests can help you enjoy the moment and ease wedding jitters.
Easy to Get Certified as an Officiant: You can get ordained online in a few minutes. It’s one simple, free application with sites like theamm.org. If you’re planning on officiating a wedding in NE Ohio, click here to learn about Ohio marriage laws and how to get an Ohio marriage license.
Cheaper Than Hiring a Professional: Professional officiants can charge anywhere from $150 to $1000+ to officiate a wedding in Ohio. A loved one may be willing to perform the ceremony for little or no cost, which can be helpful if you’re on a tight budget.
Personal Connection: Do you have someone in mind who might do a great job leading a service? Having someone you know personally as your officiant can add a special touch to your wedding ceremony. They may be able to share personal stories and anecdotes that a professional officiant might not have known.
There’s no right or wrong way to say “I do.” Think about who will officiate your wedding ceremony carefully to ensure your wedding is a day of pure happiness and your ceremony is a joyful expression of your love and commitment to one another.
Who are the Best Wedding Officiants in Northeast Ohio?
As a wedding DJ, I have worked with hundreds of officiants. Here are Northeast Ohio officiants I can personally recommend.
Karen Hirsh is a wedding officiant AND a wedding planner. She is the only officiant I ever worked with who gave me a small paper before the ceremony, which answered most of the questions I had before I had to ask. Karen is very aware and cautious of where the photographer is not to get in the way of the perfect “kiss” shot.
When asked about what she loves about officiating weddings, she said, “officiating weddings is the best job in the world. Participating in one of the most magical days of my couple’s lives brings me so much joy, and it makes my heart happy.”
Minister Sharnise Sears
Minister Sharnise Sears is a modern, full-of-life wedding officiant based in Northeast Ohio. With a smile that lights up a room, Sharnise promises a never-boring ceremony. She also offers pre-marriage and marriage counseling to couples. Her services are entirely customizable, and she’s willing to work with couples to craft personalized ceremony scripts and vows. She loves “having that rare chance to experience the love of the couple, their wedding team, and their family and friends.”
Her infectious attitude will undoubtedly rub off on your wedding guests. She’s passionate about connecting with couples and working with them to create a magical wedding day.
When I first met Tim and saw he had black boots with pink shoelaces matching his pink tie, I knew it would be a fun ceremony, and I was right! Tim specializes in religiously independent ceremonies and LGBT+ nuptials. Being a total romantic, Tim loves “public declarations of love and devotion.” He brings high, positive energy to any ceremony with a certain boldness and confidence that resonates with the couple and wedding guests.
His transparency and respect for those he works with are clearly outlined in his 11 Rules of Officiating.
Rabbi Melinda Mersack
Rabbi Melinda Mersack was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2000. She has led modern, interfaith, and traditional Jewish wedding services for over two decades. Melinda’s goal in working with couples is to find a way to say “yes” to their wedding vision. She enjoys helping couples navigate questions or concerns that arise through the wedding planning process and planning a meaningful ceremony to lay the foundation for a strong, healthy marriage.
Rabbi Mersack is also the director of jHUB Cleveland, a space for interfaith couples and families who want to explore Jewish culture.
Pronounced (Sue-IN-duh), Suinda Machuca performs weddings, elopements, commitment ceremonies, and vow renewals in English and Spanish. Suinda is a sucker for ALL kinds of love. She enjoys officiating all kinds of nuptials, especially the ones where the couple creates their own vision and new traditions. Suinda is known for breaking free from antiquated traditions and embracing couples to be their genuine and authentic selves. She typically performs ceremonies in Cleveland, the greater Northeast Ohio area, Cuyahoga County, and the surrounding counties. Couples can select from one of her three wedding packages.
O’Loughlin has been officiating weddings for the last 10 years. It began as a special request when two dear friends got engaged and asked him to officiate their ceremony. Since then, Tim has presided over many weddings. He works with each couple in the months before the wedding day to craft the ceremony, which may include personal vows, readings, music selections, and more. When asked what he loves about officiate weddings, Tim said “The ceremony can be the most difficult part, since most couples have no idea what to do. I love putting the bride and groom at ease so they feel comfortable, delivering a highly individualized service, and making it all about the two of them.”
You can reach Tim at 216-392-5503 or firstname.lastname@example.org
by Sarah Makhluf in consultation with Ivan Moore from Synapse Entertainment. Sarah is a freelance content writer. She works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing digital marketing content that gains traction. When she’s not writing, she is most likely playing her pup, Summer.
For further reading on this topic, see the following articles:
If you decide to go with a family member or friend, watch this video before you ask them.