Here are ten important questions you might want to ask rabbis as you search for an officiant for your wedding. Please note that not every question will apply to every couple.
• Are there dates on the Jewish calendar that you cannot or do not perform weddings? Rabbis who are more traditional usually refrain from weddings during a three week period in the summer time. Some rabbis wait until after the conclusion of the Sabbath for a Saturday night wedding, and others don’t.
• Are you a member of a national rabbinic organization? Is it connected to one of the main denominations? Are you affiliated locally with a rabbinic organization?
• Do you perform weddings for people who are not members of your congregation? Will you perform a Jewish wedding if one member of the couple isn’t Jewish?
• Do you have a preference or concerns about the ketuba (wedding document) that we use?
• Do you read the Hebrew blessings or sing them? Are you musical and do you like to use an instrument in the ceremony?
• Will you co-officiate with another rabbi or cantor? What about a non-Jewish officiant?
• How can we personalize the ceremony?
• If we are interested in your congregation’s chapel or sanctuary, are you required to officiate?
• How many times do you like to meet with a couple before the ceremony?
• Are there recent wedding couples you’ve worked with that you can check in with and provide as references? Do you have a DVD or a YouTube link that can show us a sample of your work?
You’ll notice that I purposefully left finances out of this particular article. It will be a focus in another upcoming conversation. If you ask, expect to hear a wide range of honorarium, plus expenses. The range will vary depending on the credentials of the rabbi, the amount of time the rabbi anticipates spending with a couple, how flexible the rabbi is regarding non-traditional weddings, and a whole host of other reasons. There will be more to consider about the topic in the article.
In the meantime, keep in mind that this is simply a suggested list for a first meeting. Most rabbis will be happy to spend an initial hour with a potential wedding couple, and usually a second visit if a couple is still looking to decide. Once you decide to engage a rabbi, he or she has every right to ask for a deposit, just like any other service provider for your wedding. They are saving the date for your event, and have no guarantees of replacing it with another should a change of circumstances occur.
Have fun planning, and a joyous wedding!
Author Credit: Rabbi David Greenspoon Adat Chaim Congregation Reisterstown, MD www.adatchaim.org
Image Credit: mazelmoments.com