11 Wonderful Philly-Area Officiants for Your Wedding Day
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One of the most important people on your Big Day is the individual you choose to preside over and participate in your nuptials. Whether you self-unite with witnesses, have a friend or family member officiate, or go with a professional wedding officiant, these individuals are crucial to the heart and soul of your ceremony and align with your other vendors to bring it to life. Their guidance can help you add your own style and character with personalized scripts, rituals and traditions, and other unique-to-you components. Your officiant should be someone you trust to make your day all about you, no matter the type of celebration – religious, interfaith, traditional, secular or completely custom. Find some of the best Philly-area wedding officiants on the list below.
Philadelphia, Northeastern Pennsylvania, New York City, New Jersey and beyond
The Hawaii native is driven by making your Big Day special for you and yours. Among her latest initiatives: She founded the Equal Dignity Pop-Up Nuptials, offering inclusive, free civil ceremonies for all. Tongg spends about six weeks with her couples, learning more about the two as individuals and as a duo and what they seek in their union. She is trained to perform nondenominational, intercultural, interfaith, secular and humanist celebrations, and she is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She will travel throughout the region (though her Promise Ridge venue is a gorgeous setting to consider). She’s made the decision to exclude elements such as passing the sign of peace (which requires a handshake) in the wake of COVID-19, and created a Wedding Ceremony Master Class to train friends and family members to serve as officiants.
Philadelphia and surrounding counties, Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and beyond
After spending a decade dreaming up weddings and photography workshops throughout the country and in Europe via Oleander, Manchester decided to add officiant services to her offerings. She underwent training in the art of rituals and ceremony, and became a humanist celebrant. Manchester, who was among the officiants at the Equal Dignity Pop-Up Nuptials, specializes in crafting modern, intentional unions; she works to place the couple (rather than religion or tradition) at the center of her work. She notes that she is inclusive of all genders, orientations and cultures, and specializes in ceremonies that support LGBTQ couples and families. (As the parent of an LGBTQ teen, it is a matter close to her heart.) New this year: Manchester serves as the site liaison for Prallsville Mills in Stockton, a historic site on the banks of the Delaware that’s perfect for cozy gatherings.
Philadelphia and surrounding counties
The Weddings With Heart founder (and coach, therapist and counselor) designs and officiates wedding and commitment ceremonies that reflect the couple’s perspectives on love, life and marriage. She begins with a virtual or in-person meeting so you can get to know each other, as well as discuss traditions, rituals and messages important to your celebration. A list of questions helps her gather information and preferences, including language, values and intentions. She provides a script before the union, and the couple can give feedback. Pre-marital counseling is offered. Frumin also coordinates with other vendors to ensure a smooth ceremony from start to finish.
Philadelphia and surrounding areas, Northeast Pennsylvania, South Jersey and the Jersey Shore
Jill Magerman says she’ll be as traditional or out-of-the-box as couples will allow her to be: She’s created ceremony elements like an ice cream sundae ritual. Interfaith unions are a passion for Magerman, who will work with the duo to blend different traditions or aspects of their cultures to ensure a fulfilling union. Magerman is a certified professional life coach, and she believes her expertise aids her in her work with couples. Additionally, she offers ceremony consultations, helping to script meaningful celebrations for those who may have a destination wedding or other circumstance. For pandemic-related events, she has this advice: “The key, in this unique time, is to be flexible and willing to adjust.”
Philadelphia and surrounding counties, Northern Delaware and South Jersey
Journeys has more than two dozen officiants who work with all couples and diverse duos regardless of belief, spirituality, gender and sexual orientation. (The organization was founded in 1995 and has long been a champion of marriage equality.) The process begins with a free officiant match (based on location, availability or personal requests) and a consultation. After that, a script will be drafted and edited based on the couple’s needs and preferences, and their love-story questionnaire. The group offers three packages. The Platinum option includes additional meetings and an advanced rehearsal, though a custom-created ceremony is the basis for the process.
Philadelphia and surrounding counties, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York
For this wedding minister and officiant, the focus is always on the couple, whether there are 500 guests or five. “I try to give them great eye contact throughout the ceremony that reassures them,” says Spicer, who holds a doctorate in religious humanities from the Church of Interfaith Christians and works with those seeking civil, nondenominational, Christian and interfaith ceremonies. She is dedicated to diversity and equality. An added perk: With Two Hearts, One Love (the group of ministers with which she is involved), she can also assist with a vocalist and musicians for your ceremony tunes. While she typically meets with couples in complimentary consultations, she also has taken appointments virtually; she’s done a few Zoom weddings. “Even for an intimate ceremony,” says Spicer, “I write every word with as much personal detail as possible: Every ceremony and couple is unique.”
Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Poconos and beyond
Donna Forsythe began her career as a celebrant in 2014, the year marriage equality passed in the state. Her first wedding was for two men in their 70s. The experience inspired her to become endorsed as a humanist celebrant through the Humanist Society and start her business. Forsythe has an award-winning team of six celebrants, who officiate micro-weddings, elopements, certificate signings, full-scale celebrations and other life events; bilingual celebrants are also available. The process begins with an initial consultation that addresses specifics such as mixed faith or any rituals you’d like to include to pay tribute to your heritage. Forsythe is also the director of Celebrant Academy, a national master’s certification program for professionals. She says such offerings are largely recognized in other countries but lacking in the U.S. The goal: Set a high standard for officiants to offer secular services for those hoping to celebrate milestones.
Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey and beyond
Before becoming an officiant, Pastor Kim Kendrick was a Realtor and park ranger (with much knowledge about the Liberty Bell). Today, Kendrick has 15 years of experience working with all couples on their customized ceremonies, from religious to civil. Spiritual, pre- and post-counseling is available, as well as relationship coaching. Want to see Kendrick in action? Check out this recent Mexican-destination-wedding-turned-at-home elopement in Aldan.
Northeastern Pennsylvania, Poconos, New York City and beyond
Celebrity officiants do exist, and Roxanne Birchfield is exactly that. Birchfield, a Penn State grad, is in the Air Force Reserves as a chaplain and has been featured on Netflix’s original series Love Is Blind. She also presided over the viral wedding of Kerry-Anne Perkins and Michael Jordan during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. She offers premarital and marital counseling in person or virtually with husband (and fellow reverend) Joshua, and has four other assistant officiants (including the hubby). She spends an average of more than 18 hours with the couple, working to create a bespoke ceremony fitting of their needs and relationship.
Philadelphia and surrounding counties, and Northeastern Pennsylvania
Susan Noles has been in her role since 2011 when she was asked to officiate a couple’s wedding and fell in love with the process. She’s earned rave reviews since then from the couples with whom she works for her tenderness, care and dedication. Count on her for your celebration, whether it’s nonreligious, religious, interfaith or nondenominational. She works with all duos and can help write personalized vows or samples from which to choose.
The sweet, intimate venue is owned by officiant Stacey Thomas. With space for up to 30 guests, the chapel is ideal for your small ceremony, micro-wedding or elopement. The venue is fully decorated, so the focus can remain on the couple. (This helps reduce the stress level, too!) Off-site officiant services are available through her Say We Do With Stacey program for couples who want a few more guests at a different location. The chapel offers a Kiss & Go service for duos who simply need to get their marriage license signed without all the fluff. Visit the chapel; get your license signed; smooch; and then you’re off to newlywed bliss.