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Category: Wedding Plans (page 1 of 2)

Future brides and grooms often aren’t certain who can — and who cannot — perform their marriage ceremony. If you attend church, it’s easy enough to ask your pastor, minister, priest or rabbi to handle the task. But what if you want your favorite uncle or aunt, sister or brother, cousin or best friend to serve as your Officiant? How does he or she become ordained? Does he or she have to register with any governmental agency before performing the ceremony? How long does the process take? What does he or she have to do before, during and after the ceremony? We take the stress and worry away from this part of your wedding plans with comprehensive information so that you can focus on making your wedding day perfect!

Getting Married This Year? Here’s What You Need To Know…

Did you get engaged to be married (Photo)

You were engaged over the holidays? Congratulations!

Now the fun begins — the planning, the worrying, the “sweating the details.” Okay, “fun” may be a relative term, but there’s no reason for one of the biggest days in your life to be daunting.

The first thing to know is that you have options, even if you are planning everything on your own. Gather your resources — The Knot, Brides Magazine and Bridal Guide are excellent places to start.

And, now that you know who you will be marrying, it’s time to figure out who will marry the two of you!

If you belong to a church, check with your pastor as soon as possible to make sure that he or she — and the church itself — will be available on the date you want to be married.

Of course, if you don’t belong to a church, your choice for the person who will perform your wedding ceremony is wide open. There are numerous guides available online to help you find a ceremonial minister (or Officiant, or Celebrant) in your area; most will perform a religious or non-religious ceremony, depending on your personal beliefs. (Both types of ceremonies are legal in all fifty states.)

However, to make your ceremony even more personal and special, keep in mind that you are permitted to select a friend or family member to perform your ceremony. The process to have someone ordained (legally authorized to perform marriages) is very simple, it usually only takes a day or so to get done, and it’s valid and accepted throughout the United States.

If you are considering asking one of your parents, a brother or sister or a friend to perform your marriage ceremony, make sure that you work closely with him or her throughout the process — confirm that they have received ordination, that they have registered with the state or county (if required), that you’ve planned out the various stages of the ceremony (including your vows), and that you have gone over the signing of your marriage license together.

Why is this last element so important? First of all, if you don’t properly sign the marriage license after the ceremony and return it on time to the issuing clerk’s office, then your marriage may not be certified as legal. Please make sure that you review your marriage license with your Officiant before the ceremony so that everyone is familiar with it.

There are usually several boxes on the form that must be filled in by you and your Officiant (including the date and location of the ceremony), each of you must sign it before sticking back in the envelope and mailing it in. Most states will provide you with a set of simple-to-follow instructions, so make sure you read them carefully and follow them to the letter.

(Additionally, some states don’t require witnesses, but some do — usually one or two, who must be adults over the age of 18. While the witnesses can be related to you, the Officiant cannot be one of the witnesses, since he or she is acting officially in a different capacity.)

If you decide to choose a friend or family member to serve as your Wedding Officiant, click here to get started. You’ll need to know where you are getting married, since the laws in that state might be a bit different, and the Officiant’s ordination must comply with that state’s rules and regulations — for example, if you live in Michigan, but you’re getting married in California, then you must obtain your marriage license in California and your Officiant’s ordination must comply with California’s laws.

And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t worry! Get in touch with us, and we’ll provide you with detailed but simple information to guide you through the process!


Choose Your Wedding Dress, Flowers, Bridesmaids … and Your Officiant!

So you were recently engaged to get married — congratulations! Now the fun part — planning your wedding — begins in earnest.

On your long list of things that need to get done, you probably know who your bridesmaids will be, and you have an idea what your wedding dress will look like, and where your marriage ceremony will take place.

But do you know who will perform your wedding ceremony, the person who will guide you through your “I do’s” and pronounce you as husband and wife?

If you belong to a church, your pastor or minister will probably be your first choice as your Wedding Officiant. But what if you don’t belong to a church, which is the growing trend among more and more people?

Your first and best option is to have a friend or family member serve as your Officiant. It’s actually a very simple, inexpensive and quick process to have the person of your choice perform your marriage ceremony, and it’s 100% legal!

What’s The Process?

Depending on which state you are getting married in — click here if you already know — the person who will serve as your Officiant (or Minister, or Celebrant; the terms are interchangeable) must be legally ordained in compliance with that state’s laws.

Get Ordained To Perform Weddings (Happily Ever After Photo)

Heading toward “happily ever after!” (Photo by Ben Rosett)

Keep in mind that if you live in one state (let’s say, for example, Oregon) but you’re getting married in another (California, for example), then your Officiant’s ordination must comply with the laws of the state you are getting married in.

But don’t worry — your marriage will be legal in all fifty states … but your Officiant must be ordained in compliance with the laws of the state where the ceremony is taking place.

(If you are getting married outside of your home state, you must obtain your marriage license in the state where you are getting married — but that’s a different subject. If you have questions about this, ask us!)

Ordination, quite simply, is the process of having a person certified to legally perform marriage ceremonies and other rites, such as vow renewals, funerals and baptisms. Once a person is ordained, he or she receives a minister’s license — usually as part of the same process, for the same low fee — and then can proceed with performing your ceremony.

As we mentioned, the process of ordination is simple, and it doesn’t take much time to accomplish. Only one state — Nevada — has a strict educational requirement; all other states only require that your Officiant is legally ordained and licensed, is of legal age (usually 18 years old) and is competent to perform the ceremony, which includes making sure that your marriage license is properly completed, signed and returned to the issuing clerk’s office following your ceremony.

To check your state’s specific rules and regulations for getting ordained to perform weddings, please click here.

You can actually submit the request for ordination yourself on behalf of the person you’ve chosen to perform your marriage ceremony. It adds one more item to your long wedding checklist, but if you want to make sure it gets done, you can do it yourself!

Important To Keep In Mind…

One of the biggest positives in this is that you get to include one more person in your wedding party — perhaps you wanted to include your Uncle Otto or your Cousin Carla in the ceremony, but couldn’t find a place for them.

The simple solution: select Otto or Carla to perform your marriage ceremony! Get them legally ordained right now, and you can cross that item off your list today!

Are there any potential problems? Well, to be certain, you should feel confident that Otto or Carla aren’t shy or afraid to be “up on stage.” Do they have big personalities? Are they good around large groups of people?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, that’s great!

On the other hand, if you’re concerned that Uncle Otto might have a few too many cocktails before the ceremony begins, or that Cousin Carla has a tendency to be late and flakes out from time to time, then you may want to move on to Plan B and select someone else as your Wedding Officiant.

Finally, if you didn’t request your Officiant’s ordination yourself, or if he or she says they are already ordained … trust, but verify! Demand that they provide you with a copy of their credentials — either their certificate of ordination or letter of good standing from the ordaining organization — and file that copy away with your important papers. The Officiant’s credentials should have his or her name printed on the documents, not just hand-written in by themselves.

You can (and should) contact the ordaining organization to make sure that your Officiant is listed in their database, and that his or her status is current, active and valid in your state. Your Officiant must provide you with the contact information for the organization that granted their ordination. (Our contact information is right here, in case you need it. Drop us a line!)

The bottom line: without a copy of their credentials, there is no proof that the person is legally authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in your state! Without proof, the status of your marriage could be in jeopardy.

For more information on ordination and a simple guide to your state’s rules and regulations, please click here.

Wedding Flower Arrangement (Photo)

Feature photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash.

First Nation Minister Kim Kirkley Celebrates Salik-Riffat Nuptials

Salik-Riffat Wedding

The entire First Nation family extends its congratulations and warmest wishes for a lifetime of joy and love to Dr. Irim Salik and Mahmud Riffat, who were married last weekend at Park Savoy Estate, with Kim Kirkley serving as their Celebrant.

Kim Kirkley, an ordained and licensed First Nation ceremonial minister, is one of the leading life-cycle Celebrants in the New York and New Jersey area. In addition to her service as a Celebrant, she serves on the faculty of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, focusing on Fundamentals of Celebrancy, Weddings, Ceremony Across the Life Cycle Certifications, and Advanced Marketing Courses. She is the author of several books, including “Love Stories: A Celebrant’s Work,” which is considered essential reading for anyone aspiring to serve as a life-cycle celebrant.

Read the full story of Dr. Salik and Mr. Riffat’s wedding in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times.

Have you performed a ceremony recently? If so, please send us the details and a photograph (or two!) so that we may feature it here.

Thinking about becoming a Life Celebrant and ordained ceremonial minister? Stop thinking and start doing! Click here to begin the quick, simple process.

What To Wear: Proper Attire For Officiants

We recently received an inquiry from Robert Marsh, a First Nation ceremonial minister in Texas, who asked:

What type of clerical garments are we able to use?

This is a great question, and a great subject for us to discuss in detail.

For most ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, Officiants will generally wear what is commonly regarded as “business attire,” such as a standard suit and tie for men, or a dress or pants outfit for women. Black or dark blue is recommended, with a white shirt or blouse, although a tasteful blue shirt or blouse is also acceptable.

Women's Long Sleeve Tab Collar Clergy Shirt by Murphy Robes

Women’s Long Sleeve Tab Collar Clergy Shirt by Murphy Robes

In such situations, the attire should not be too bright or flashy — especially at weddings, you do not want to attract attention away from the bridal couple. I wouldn’t want to be the Officiant who is pulling focus away from a bride in her beautiful gown on her special day!

As far as clerical garments go, you may wear “the collar” — the basic, standard clergy shirt. Over the years, we have always recommended Artneedle’s shirts, which can be worn with or without a coat.

Mercy Robes also offers very nice clergy shirts. Basic black is nice, but many of our Officiants prefer the burgundy, which nearly matches our dark red “heart” crest color.

Of course, you should discuss your attire in advance with the bridal couple. Usually, the wedding will be fairly formal, but we’ve seen Hawaiian shirts, Disney character costumes and even football jerseys worn at ceremonies — it’s all up to the couple, and how they’ve planned the event.

The “Standard” Format For Marriage Ceremonies

One of the most-asked questions we receive — right up there with “what the heck am I supposed to do next?” — is actually fairly important:

What is the standard structure of a wedding ceremony?

Most weddings follow basically the same format, with minor adjustments here and there depending upon the desires of the bridal couple. Keep in mind that the bridal couple usually comes up with their own format for the ceremony, but many times you’ll show up and they’ll be looking at you for guidance every step of the way — and you had better be ready with a plan!

Keep in mind that, aside from traditional ceremonies in certain churches (such as in the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faiths), there is no step-by-step standard format. The bridal couple is free to choose the elements they want to include or exclude, and to customize it any way they want.

No jurisdiction has a law saying what format a marriage ceremony must follow. However, the bridal couple must speak vows declaring their intention to be married to each other (either by repeating vows spoken by the Officiant, or by saying their own vows) and the Officiant must declare them to be married at the conclusion of the ceremony.

After the ceremony, the Officiant must take the couple aside to sign their marriage license, along with the witnesses (if required by local law) to make the marriage official.

A sample “standard” format includes:

Special wedding music begins (this is usually “background” music chosen by the couple, or by the DJ or musicians)
Mothers/parents/VIPs enter and light candles/candelabras
Parents of the Bride and Groom are seated
The Minister/Officiant and Groom enter and proceed to the front
The Bridal Party enters and proceeds to the front
The Ring Bearer and/or Flower Girl enter, proceed to front
Music concludes for Bridal Party
Ushers unroll the aisle runner
The Minister/Officiant asks the audience to rise and welcome the Bride
Music begins for the Bride’s entrance (Processional music)
The Bride and her escort enter, and are met by the Groom
Bride’s music concludes
Opening commentary by Minister/Officiant
Bride and Groom light “family candles” to represent their families
Bride and Groom present flowers to parents and/or VIPs
“Declarations Of Intent” by Bride and Groom
First reading (religious or romantic literature)
Musical interlude (solo, etc.)
Second reading
Special music (musical interlude, or musical and vocal performance)
Exchange of wedding vows (traditional or customized)
Blessing of the rings
Exchange of wedding rings
Minister/Officiant‘s prayer or blessing for the Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom light Unity Candle (music in background)
Final commentary
Bride and Groom kiss
Introduction of the new couple by the Minister/Officiant
Recessional music begins
Bride and Groom exit
Bridal party exits and forms reception line
Minister/Officiant’s instructions to the audience
Audience departs for reception

First Nation Minister Weds NYC Couple

chang kusack nytimes

We extend our best wishes for a lifetime of love and joy to Elise Chang and Alastair Kusack, who were married in Manhattan this weekend, with First Nation ceremonial minister Kim Kirkley officiating.

Their full, wonderful story is detailed in the pages of today’s edition of the New York Times.

Anglican Wedding Ceremony (1662): The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony

We are often asked for sample ceremonies, or guidance on how to perform a specific style of wedding, by members of our clergy. We were recently contacted for assistance on planning an Elizabethan or Olde English ceremony by a minister who was asked to perform a marriage at a Renaissance Faire-style event. In our research, we came across this amazing period piece — an Anglican Wedding Ceremony from more than 350 years ago. Read, and enjoyeth thyself:

First the Banns of all that are to be married together must be published in the Church three several Sundays, during the time of Morning Service, or of Evening Service (if there be no Morning Service), immediately after the second Lesson; the Curate saying after the accustomed manner,

I PUBLISH the Banns of Marriage between M. of _____ and N. of _____. If any of you know cause, or just impediment, why these two persons should not be joined together in holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it.

This is the first [or second, or third] time of asking.

And if the persons that are to be married dwell in divers Parishes, the Banns must be asked in both Parishes; and the Curate of the one Parish shall not solemnize Matrimony betwixt them, without a Certificate of the Banns being thrice asked, from the Curate of the other Parish.

At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the Church with their friends and neighbours: and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the Woman on the left, the Priest shall say,

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

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Sage Advice For The First-Time Wedding Officiant

We received an inquiry this week from a minister who was getting ready to perform her very first marriage ceremony this coming weekend.

Getting asked to perform your first wedding progresses very quickly from “Sure, I’ll do it!” to “Yipes, what do I actually do?”

A wedding ceremony is a beautiful but complex thing. As the designated Officiant, you may not have realized it before, but you’re in charge. It’s the bridal couple’s show, but you’re guiding them through the ceremony. Once you arrive at the altar (or the other designated spot where the vows will be spoken) you’re running things.

What things? Every thing. You’re essentially hosting and narrating the program — you are literally the master of ceremonies! Speak in a voice that everyone can hear, even those in the back row — and especially great grandma in the second row. She doesn’t want to miss a word!

The bridal couple will be following your lead, so make sure that every “repeat after me” is followed by short and simple vows for each of them to repeat. Test it out on yourself, because if you can’t remember more than four or five tongue-twisting words to repeat (with your nerves frayed, and a big audience of family and friends staring at you) neither will the couple!

But that’s not everything

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Choosing The Perfect Song For Your First Dance

We had gone through all the prep work — putting together lists, getting a variety of opinions, listening to dozens of songs — on the way to writing an article about the perfect song for the first dance.

We had checked off all the boxes:

It had to be memorable.

It had to be meaningful.

It had to be special.

As I said, we had it all ready to go.

…And then we read this article from our friends at You & Your Wedding, in which they not only list 100 amazing potential first dance songs, but then break it down into categories (“The Sway,” “High-Energy Swing,” “Something Latin,” etc.) and list some notable celebrity first-dance tunes.

The traditional first dance for the bride and groom can be a nerve wracking moment. The key though is to pick a track you both love. You’ll be more relaxed as you take to the floor, and every time you hear it in the years to come you will be reminded of your big day.

So, forget about our article — it ain’t going to happen — and instead check out RachelYYW’s outstanding guide to wedding first dance songs by clicking right here, right now.

State of the Union: Serving As A Wedding Officiant In New York

This article is part of a series for ministers on performing marriage ceremonies in the United States and elsewhere. In this article, we focus on New York State, as well as New York City, which has its own specific set of rules and regulations.

We often hear from ministers and officiants that are concerned about the complexities of performing marriage ceremonies in New York. While it may seem complex on the surface, it’s actually fairly simple and straightforward — as long as you follow the rules.

Becoming ordained as a New York wedding minister

In New York, you’re free to perform marriage ceremonies … if you follow the rules.

Basically, you must be legally ordained before performing a wedding ceremony in New York. If you are currently ordained and in good standing with the church, you are ready to perform the ceremony this very moment. (If you aren’t currently ordained, you may request New York-based ordination by clicking here now.)

With one major exception, you are not required to register with any agency in New York before performing ceremonies in the state, but always keep in mind that you must present your credentials to any legal authority upon their request — which can include the town clerk, county clerk, or any representative of the state — as well as the bridal couple.

That one major exception on registering relates to whether the ceremony is taking place in any of the five boroughs of New York City — Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. Regardless of where the marriage license is being issued in the state, if the wedding ceremony itself is taking place anywhere in New York City (not just Manhattan, not just Brooklyn) then, as the officiant, you must register with the Marriage Bureau at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan.

Is there a way around this requirement? No, there isn’t. But the wonderful folks at the city’s Marriage Bureau actually try to make it as simple and painless as possible for you. But keep in mind that you should not wait until the last minute to get registered with them!

If you plan to perform ceremonies specifically in New York City, the church will provide you with the documents and forms required by the Marriage Bureau. If you intend to become ordained, you may request the New York City endorsement as part of the process. If you are currently ordained, but want to receive the New York City endorsement from the church, you may request it from us by clicking here.

The Marriage Bureau has a very nice website with very detailed information about their processes and procedures. We recommend that you take at least a few minutes to carefully read through their instructions.

More good news: as long as you are actively ordained, you can begin the registration process online on the Marriage Bureau’s website. Here’s a link to the Bureau’s online minister registration application.

What happens next? As noted on the Marriage Bureau’s website: “Once you have completed the form using the correct option … you must visit the Manhattan office to complete your registration if you are a resident of the City of New York. If you reside outside of the City of New York you may mail the signed and notarized application, a photocopy of your proper identification and your fee of $15 by credit card or money order payable to the City Clerk.”

So easy! Now get out there and perform that ceremony!

Interested in becoming ordained to perform ceremonies in New York? Click here now for more information.

But wait — you knew there’d be other variables to consider

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