THIS ARTICLE is posted to communicate a few basic steps a couple can use in their selection process for the individual who will be conducting the ceremony at their wedding. Other factors can and should be considered in addition to the below and is submitted by Wayne Echelmeyer May 12, 2018 for informational purposes only and is not to be interpreted as legal advise in any manner or form.
STEP ONE: Purpose
The purpose of the Rites of Marriage is not only the exchange of vows between the participants but also as a message to the community that those exchanging vows are committed to building a life together. It is also witnessed by family and friends so the community is made aware of the vows; but the responsibility of a healthy marriage is both the participants and the community together. Ensuring execution of the Rites of Marriage is conducted properly is important because the purpose is to raise awareness as to the relationship of the persons exchanging the vows and how they ought to be engaged by the community moving forward after the wedding.
STEP TWO: Consideration
Depending on the size of your guest list the people you invite can be a factor when selecting the type of ceremony which is going to be administered. Think about the generational divides and cultural attitudes of grandparents, parents, and children in attendance. The wedding ceremony historically was a joyous gathering which people celebrated as one of the most important life events a person could have, and in some countries this holds true today. Do not limit your wedding to current media or social shortcomings exhibited by the government and family Courts of the United States, but rather, embrace the true meaning of the day - remember it comes only but once in a lifetime!
Some questions to think about:
Was there a particular religious background for you or your guests growing up? For example: Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, Mormon, Jewish, Hindu, Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim, Protestant, Anglican, Pagan, Agnostic, etc. From this information the officiant or minister will build from the traditions most recognizable to everyone. Remember, as you are exchanging your vows your family and friends will be recalling any vows they exchanged in their lives - even the ones who are divorced.
Are any children involved? If either participant has children it is important to remember the wedding ceremony will be affecting them also! You may wish to have them involved to help reinforce and solidify the new family unit your vows are creating. There are many ways an Officiant can include children but remember also your future in-laws! Your marriage will be enjoining two families and in-laws may need to be included to help bridge the transition and resolve any conflict which may exist.
What does your wedding mean to you? The ceremony should reflect what you want as a couple. A simple civil ceremony which fulfills the requirements of the State is absolutely appropriate if that is what the two of you want. Remember, Love is the basis for any relationship by which the participants execute the Rites of Marriage; no organization or government agency outside the relationship can define or mitigate how it works! Each wedding ceremony is unique to you and is yours to manage as you see fit and cannot be judged by anyone outside of it. In short, whether you want a simple five minute exchange or an elaborate twenty-five minute fire and brimstone ceremony please know that either is appropriate and the Officiant or Minister should administer accordingly.
STEP THREE: Engage
Be sure to send in writing any special vows you wish to exchange to the officiant so they can be added to the ceremony. Be sure you approve the Wedding Vows and Wedding Exchange Vows so that when you are repeating them to each other they sound familiar and are comfortable when spoken in front of your family, friends, and guests. Request from the officiant or minister the estimated time for the ceremony and ensure the person administering the Rites are not using your wedding ceremony as a pulpit! The average ceremony takes about 15-20 minutes of talk time for the minister but can be longer depending on if prayers, blessings, and traditions are added. By engaging with the officiant and controlling content and time you will help ensure your wedding ceremony is memorable and enjoyed by everyone in attendance.
STEP FOUR: Expect Excellence
Everyone who receives compensation as a result of your wedding day should be expected to deliver on the day with little to no problems. The officiant, minister, rabbi, priest, elder, deacon, or lay person must ensure their role is executed to a high standard of excellence. No authority for conducting a ceremony can be derived from any organization or governmental agency, in fact, the authority to execute the Rites of Marriage originates from the participants and those who are in attendance bearing witness to the exchange of vows. The person administering the Rites of Marriage does so only at the pleasure of the individuals who have gathered at the wedding and from God - so if a minister or officiant does not treat you with dignity or does not respect your wishes for your wedding simply say thank you and hang up the phone, or end the meeting.
Some basic deliverables which you should receive from the person administering the Rites of Marriage at your wedding are (1) a ceremony which conforms to the ten element construct which dates back to the old testament or a civil ceremony which complies with the county clerk's minimum requirements from the State Clerk's Manual, (2) a copy of the Wedding Vows and Ring Exchange Vows to be approved by the couple prior to the wedding or rehearsal date, (3) an estimated number of minutes for the ceremony from the point when both participants are facing them after your procession, (4) the marriage license issued by the County should be endorsed (signed and dated) the day of the ceremony and the officiant or minister should return it to the County Clerk's office either in person or by first class mail the next day, and (5) they should be available for at least one photo shot with the couple if so asked. There are a few optional items which can also be requested but there may be an additional fee and they include (6) a Marriage Certificate which complies with State requirements and is properly executed with an official business seal issued by the Secretary of State, (7) a copy of the complete ceremony as a keepsake to be passed on after your passing.
I hope this brief article regarding what to think about and expect from the person who is invited to conduct your ceremony for the Rites of Marriage at your wedding is helpful in your selection process and also removes some stress factors which can be present with regards to organizing a wedding.
You may respond to this article by sending an email here. Thank you and best wishes for your wedding day.