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Choosing a Wedding OfficiantIt’s safe to say that the most important person in a marriage ceremony after you and your partner is the officiant. No matter what kind of wedding you’re planning, state law requires the presence of a person to solemnize your union and make it official. If you and your betrothed are members of a particular community of faith, there may be one or two people who are ordained to marry you. As with other details of your big day, you may have to find someone to get you hitched. Here are some things to consider.

Examining Your Nonreligious Options

You have several options if you’re planning a secular or nonreligious ceremony:

  • Court Official: Reach out to a county clerk when you’re procuring a marriage certificate. This person can direct you to local court officials, such as a judge or justice of the peace, who are certified to marry per the laws of your jurisdiction. If a list of court officials is provided, consider reaching out to each member to find out availability and details on how marriage ceremonies are conducted.
  • City Hall: Contact your local city hall to get information on if and how weddings are conducted. This is a great option for a quick, no-frills ceremony.
  • Loved One: A modern approach that you might love is having a friend or family member officiate your wedding. Some states such as California allow a one-day designation for non-clergy to perform marriage ceremonies for a small fee. Another option is ordination through the Universal Life Church. A ULC-ordained minister is recognized as a religious actor and therefore authorized to serve as an officiant in most places. For more information, click here. Officiating a wedding is no small task, and you should be thoughtful about who you’re asking to fulfill this role. Keep in mind that some religions may not allow secular ceremonies in their venues.

Choosing a Religious Officiant

If you want to marry according to a religious tradition, there are some important things for you to ponder and plan for. If there’s a synagogue, mosque or church that you’re a member of, you may already have an idea of who can solemnize your union and it’s just a matter of confirming availability. Some couples may want to marry according to a belief system that is of significance to their families, even if they themselves are not members of that particular church, denomination or sect. Consider these:

  • Check Requirements: Some clergy or religions may have rules regarding membership for couples wanting to tie the knot per their rituals or in their venues. It is not uncommon for some faiths to require premarriage counseling from the person conducting the ceremony.
  • Confirm the Details: It’s important to find out what a particular officiant or religion will and won’t allow when it comes to wedding details. For example, a priest or pastor may or may not officiate a same-sex wedding or one for divorcees, even if the religious organization has no specific views regarding these unions.
  • Ask About Participants: Some religions may have restrictions about who can perform marriages in their places of worship. For example, it may be your dream to have your wedding officiated by a parent who is clergy, but the church in question may only allow officiants from the same denomination.

The last thing you want to do is to make plans without confirming what is allowed.

When it comes to your nuptials, the details matter. One of the most important details involves the person who will solemnize your union. A marriage ceremony performed by an unauthorized person is invalid and may come with fines and other consequences. Moreover, this is an important milestone in your life. Choosing the right officiant is critical.

Category: Perform a Wedding

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