One of the newer items on the wedding "to do" list is hire your officiant, the person who will perform the wedding for you. Even if you belong to a house of worship and have a rabbi or minister who will be performing your ceremony, you may want to consider some of these tips. If you are planning on asking a friend or relative to perform your ceremony, you'll definitely want to do so.

Timing
Hiring or choosing an officiant is one of the first things you should do when planning your wedding. The person who will perform your ceremony has a huge impact on the day and shouldn't be a last minute decision. Your officiant may also have certain religious restrictions of which you'll need to be aware.

Consider Religion
For many people their wedding is one of the first times they've really thought about religion and what role it might play in their adult lives. If you and your fiancé are planning on having children, religion is one of the many things you'll want to discuss your wedding can be a good place to start this discussion. Make sure you and your intended are on the same page about the role religion will play in your wedding, and make sure you're clear with potential officiants about those wishes. If this is an interfaith wedding you may wish to have officiants from two different faiths. Make sure to discuss this with the officiants.

Ask Questions
Whether you're hiring someone or working with your family's spiritual leader, ask questions. What does the officiant consider his or her role to be? How does he or she structure a ceremony? Can you request specific readings? Can you add elements such as music or prayers? Does the officiant allow photography during the ceremony? What will he or she wear to the wedding? If a friend or relative is performing the ceremony you will want to discuss these issues in detail with them. Make sure to have an open and honest conversation.

Qualifications
States vary in their rules for who can and cannot perform a wedding. Make sure to ask any officiant if they are licensed in your state, and for evidence of that. If a friend or relative is performing the ceremony, double check that they are cleared to do so.

Payment
If you hare hiring an officiant, the person should be upfront about his or her fees. If a friend or relative is performing the ceremony, you should give him or her a gift similar to what you will be giving your bridal party. If you belong to a church or synagogue, check with the office about wedding fees and whether tipping the officiant is customary.

The Reception
You do not have to invite a hired officiant to your reception. But, it is a nice gesture and if you like the person you may wish to do so. Don't be offended however if he or she rejects the invitation. For a family minister or rabbi, you should definitely invite him or her to the reception. Keep in mind though that if your minister performs several weddings a year, he may wish to skip the reception. Some rabbis will only attend receptions if the food served is Kosher.