Frequently Asked Questions
An officiant, also called a celebrant, is a person responsible for performing a wedding or funeral ceremony for people who, for various reasons, cannot or do not wish to have recourse to a traditional ceremony celebrated according to religious principles. The officiating profession is relatively new but has grown considerably in popularity over the past 10 years and more and more ceremonies are also being performed for other important life moments such as vow renewals and baptisms. Unlike a master of ceremonies who is responsible for the entertainment of the day or the wedding planner who organizes the event and takes care of the decoration, the officiant focuses mainly on the creation and celebration of the ceremony.
A secular ceremony is one that is not performed in the name of any religion whatsoever. This does not mean, however, that it is only aimed at atheists. Today, more and more couples are opting for a secular ceremony because it allows a certain freedom regarding the place of celebration which can be a garden, the grounds of a castle, a beach, a barn, a forest but also as to its content which, especially if it is celebrated by a professional officiant, will be tailor-made according to the couple's requests and can also refer to 2 religions if the bride and groom are of different cultures and religions. Also called an engagement ceremony or American-style ceremony, it highlights the personality of the couple, their history and their values.
In France, a secular ceremony has no legal value, like a religious ceremony elsewhere. It is therefore purely symbolic, however, its content being so personalized, couples often consider it as their REAL wedding ceremony and an increasing number of them decide to use the services of a professional officiant in order to give more credibility to the event and to ensure that it will be perfectly orchestrated.
In France, no law obliges you to do so at the moment, however, we are among the officiants who think that even if it is symbolic, the secular ceremony must, to be credible, reflect a real commitment on the part of the couples , this is why we prefer that couples visit the town hall before carrying out their secular ceremony. In this regard, did you know that in France, it is forbidden to marry religiously until you are married civilly since the law of separation of Church and State in 1904? It is a condition of compulsory marriage under French law. Priests who deviate from this rule would incur criminal sanctions (penal code art. 433.21). But it is not the same in other nations where one can choose between civil marriage and religious marriage.
If you don't have any links in France, the answer is no. In other words, if you only plan to visit France for a few days, you cannot legally get married in France. On the other hand, if you have a long-term visa or if you have proof of residence of more than 6 months, you can get married civilly at the town hall of your municipality. This procedure, however, requires a little organization because several documents will have to be provided, to be translated into French by a translator registered with the local court if they are not in French and the publication of the banns must be made at least 10 days before your wedding date, so don't book your plane ticket just yet! The simplest option is to get married legally in your country of residence and organize the symbolic ceremony of your dreams in France.
Currently, no regulations apply to the profession of officiant therefore, in theory, anyone can decide to become an officiant overnight. Some private organizations offer training sessions and even issue diplomas and certificates, but these training courses and qualifications are not recognized by any official public authority. As a result, it is difficult for couples to know how to choose the right officiant. A good officiant must be eloquent, organized, comfortable with public speaking and must also be patient, caring and proactive. Our advice: A wedding ceremony is a very personal affair, so follow your instinct!
You just need to consult the directories dedicated to weddings to see that in terms of prices, you can find everything! At the low end, some officiants offer their services for less than €300, which most often involves you writing your own script and the officiant only taking care of the celebration or vice versa (the officiant writes the script and one of your loved ones celebrates the ceremony). Then, the price will vary depending on the degree of customization offered. If a “standard” ceremony suits you, there is no need to spend a fortune and opt for a price between €600 and €800. If the personalization of your ceremony is a determining criterion, opt for an officiant renowned for their tailor-made service.
The more time the officiant spends preparing for your ceremony, the higher the prices will be. For a tailor-made ceremony, count between €800 and €1500. Opt for a well-established officiant, with many positive reviews and whose website is full of photos and videos, a guarantee of the number of ceremonies celebrated and their experience. Finally, some officiants offer prices between 2000 and 3000€ which often include the complete decoration of your ceremony or entertainment by a group of musicians. In any case, if a proposition seems too good to be true, it's often because it is!
The beauty of the secular ceremony is its flexibility. So yes, you can include the elements of your choice in your secular ceremony. Music, dance, interventions from loved ones, games, quizzes, rituals, cocktails, the important thing is that your ceremony reflects who you are. The secular ceremony is the opportunity of a lifetime to express your personality, to tell your story, to show your loved ones how much you love yourself, so treat yourself, express yourself! If you want to go further, some officiants offer a “show ceremony” service during which they disguise themselves (as a false priest, a famous character, etc.) and turn your ceremony into a humorous show. We are among the officiants who consider that, under the pretext that it is purely symbolic, the secular ceremony must not make a mockery of traditional ceremonies because this risks offending some of your guests. As far as we are concerned, we prefer to celebrate our ceremonies with authenticity and professionalism, which does not prevent us from including a lot of humor, surprises and emotions.
There is no rule regarding the length of the ceremony and its length will depend on what you want to include in it. If you want several relatives to speak, your ceremony will of course last longer than if the officiant is the only one speaking. Likewise, if you wish to include one or more rituals or if you wish to increase the number of solemn exchanges (Declaration of intention, exchange of vows, exchange of alliances, etc.). On average, a secular ceremony lasts between 35 and 45 minutes. We celebrate many ceremonies in two languages, mainly in French & English in which case, a bilingual ceremony lasts approximately one hour. A ceremony that is too long risks boring your guests. Conversely, a ceremony that is too short risks losing credibility, particularly among guests who have never attended this type of ceremony and therefore do not know what to expect.
More than half of our customers live in the four corners of the globe and the majority of “our lovely couples” have busy personal and professional lives. Therefore, it is not necessarily necessary to meet your officiant in person. We have implemented an efficient working methodology, clear documents and we are always at your disposal by telephone, email, Skype, etc. so don't worry, a good officiant does not need to see you "in real life" to create a tailor-made ceremony for you. On the other hand, if you would like to meet us, it will be with great pleasure!
The services included in a service vary from one officiant to another, so ask for a precise quote to avoid surprises! As far as we are concerned, our service includes an appointment in person within a geographical limit of 60km, the preparation of your ceremony, correspondence with some of your loved ones and other service providers involved in the running of your ceremony (DJ, musicians, wedding planner, etc.), unlimited conversations by telephone, email or Skype, the provision of a speaker and a wireless microphone and of course, the celebration on the big day. Our service does not include travel costs on D-Day and any additional travel desired (rehearsal, 2nd visit ) will be invoiced.
Some officiants consider writing the script a team effort between the professional and the couple. We completely agree with this principle, however we have built our reputation not only on the personalization of our scripts but also on the creation of surprise texts. If you allow us, we will only give you access to part of the script because for us, knowing the entire text in advance can have an impact on the sincerity of your emotions on your wedding day . 99% of couples trusted us and none regretted it, but if you want to, we will let you read the full script.
Yes, you can because, since the rise of the officiating profession, some wedding planners have offered a Wedding Planning + Ceremony package. We consider that these two professions are radically different and require different skills. The job of a Wedding Planner is to coordinate the services of each service provider, to decorate the reception venue and to ensure that your day runs smoothly. The officiant's mission is to get to know you, carefully prepare your ceremony using his writing skills and celebrate your ceremony in an impeccable manner thanks to his speaking skills. Would it occur to you to ask your caterer to make your bun? Up to your florist to prepare your wedding cake? Has your DJ served the cocktail? 😊
PARTNERS page to find our many trustworthy wedding professionals. We have already worked with them and you can find your complementary service provider to complete your secular wedding ceremony.