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Adventures in Being a Bride: Finding an Officiant

I’m getting married in a few weeks (five and a half, to be precise). One question that has come up almost as often as “when” and “where” has been “who is marrying you?” Until two weeks ago, I didn’t have an answer. Commence epic freakout.

A little back story: Future mister and I have been together for almost five years, and have lived together for four of them. We’ve known each other for a decade. We weren’t planning a big wedding, only immediate family and two or three very close friends that are practically family. A long engagement seemed unnecessary.

Our original plan had been to have a register wedding at our county courthouse and take the previously mentioned guests out to dinner. That plan fell through when the office that handles marriage licenses informed me that they didn’t perform the wedding ceremony at the courthouse anymore. That put the stops on Plan A. We wanted a civil ceremony, as neither of us are particularly religious or really even spiritual. Scratch that, I wanted a civil ceremony, future mister just wanted to sign papers and go eat. As luck would have it, in our state, some type of ceremony is required. The kicker is that good ole’ PA has weird rules about  who can and cannot officiate. One of the stipulations to having a member of clergy officiate a wedding is that they have to have a congregation, so having my BFF get ordained through the Universal Life Church was out.

The “big day” was getting closer and I still wasn’t any closer to finding someone to marry us than I had been a month earlier. I asked around, got a few recommendations for non-denominational ministers. I even spoke to one a couple times, and she was lovely. Her thoughts on the nature of marriage and partnership made my heart happy. Her fee was also more than we were spending on food for 20 people. I kept her name and number, but I felt like I was back to square one.

The next morning, with a burst of energy, I took to the Googles. I printed out a list of all the district judges in the county that we are getting married in as well as the county we live in (of course it couldn’t be easy and be the same county). I started with the top of the list and worked my way down. Out of fifteen or so, not one performs out of office weddings on the weekend. Either you’re getting hitched between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the week, or no dice. One of admins for a judge that I did speak to pointed me in the direction of the mayor’s office. She said he frequently performs weddings. The stars must have been shining on me that day. I called and not only was he available, he was willing to go to our desired location, and best of all, there was no charge, as it was part of his official duties. Everyone in the office has been kind and understanding to my completely and utter lack of knowing how all of this “getting married” works.

I suppose this all could have been easier and less stressful if I had done more planning and research, but that wouldn’t have been my style at all.

By [E]queSarahSarah

Part-time artist, full-time crankypants who dabbles in knitting, running, and burpees.

5 replies on “Adventures in Being a Bride: Finding an Officiant”

I’m an ordained minister (no, really.  It says so right on the certificate I got from the internet site I used) so in Tennessee, that means I can officiate weddings.

I’m not particularly religious and I got ordained (look at the certificate!) mainly because I thought it would be a casual but sort of lucrative part-time job.  And it has been but it’s also been fun.  I got to officiate my son’s wedding (and cried all the way through but I’m his mother.  I’m allowed.) and I’ve been at some very interesting ceremonies.  I’m still somewhat surprised at how many last minute requests come in.

(I also do same-sex commitment ceremonies, which aren’t legal (unfortunately.  Fuck you, Tennessee.).  But I tell all my gay couples that when it is legal, I’ll marry them again for free.)  (p.s. Fuck you, Tennessee.  Maybe I already said that.)

@KellsBells – Well, neither the bride or groom were particularly religious and were planning a very secular wedding, thus the usual pool of officiants didn’t seem appropriate. Bride had four friends who were in contention for the position of bridesmade with only three slots available. I came in fourth….

As a means of killing two birds with one stone, bride found a way to include me without having a lopsided wedding line and taking care of the whole officiate issue. She asked me to officiate and I said ‘yes’.

I went online to something like the “Universal Life Ministries” (or whatever it was), filled in my name and address, hit submit, and *poof* I was ordained as a minister.

That’s amazing. Mr. B and I had the same problems, only ours included everyone we thought would work being busy the weekend we were getting married. In the end, we got married at the courthouse (our courthouses still do marriages thankfully) four days before our wedding and having a dear friend perform the service for the big show.

One of the options that we considered, but didn’t do, was having someone temporarily certified to perform weddings. I don’t know how many states do this, but we could have filled out some paperwork with a friend and gotten them a one time only officiant’s license.

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