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So, you’re getting married… Have you given any thought to who is going to perform your wedding ceremony?
Typically, if you’re working with a wedding planner, they will find someone to officiate your wedding for you.
However, if yours is a small, intimate wedding or if you’re not enlisting the services of an official wedding planner, then it can be more difficult to find someone to officiate your wedding — especially if it’s a beach wedding or a destination wedding at a location that’s far from your home.
Here’s what you need to know about marriage licenses to ensure that you will be legally wed in the United States (and abroad). Plus tips for finding a wedding officiant yourself…
Marriage License Requirements
To ensure that your marriage is performed legally, you will first need to find out what the requirements are to get a wedding license in the place where you’ll be getting married.
If yours is a destination wedding, that means you will need to find out what steps you need to take before you can legally be married there.
One of the things that stands out in my case (we got married in the Bahamas) is the fact that my husband-to-be had to bring along the divorce papers proving that his previous marriage had been legally dissolved, and I had to swear before a magistrate, with my right hand on the Bible, that I was indeed a “spinster” (yes, an “old maid”… “never been married before”… you get the idea!)
There are a few other unique things that you need to know if you get married at sea.
Here are the costs associated with wedding officiants and what should be included.
Once you know what’s legally required of the two of you before you can be married, next you need to find someone to perform your wedding ceremony.
How To Find A Wedding Officiant
If you have enlisted the services of a wedding planner, then details like this will be taken care of for you.
However, if you’re organizing your wedding yourself, then it’s up to you to find someone who can legally officiate your wedding. This is especially true if you’re wedding takes place outside of the church — like on a beach, a boat, or a mountainside.
Here are your options:
- Have a friend or relative do it. You can become an ordained minister online… for FREE. Also, in some states (like California), anyone can purchase a license that is good for one day and makes them a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages for a small fee. You could pay that 1-day license for whoever you want to officiate your wedding. As you can imagine, having a friend or relative perform your wedding will make it much more personal.
- Use your own minister or hire one from a nearby church. If you go to church, then just ask your favorite minister to preside over your wedding ceremony. If they say no, they still may know of another person who could do it for you. Worth noting: in most cases, Catholic weddings can only be performed in a Catholic church.
- Enlist the services of the Justice of the Peace. Start at the County Clerk’s office nearest to your wedding location to ensure that you get someone who is licensed. Then contact them one-by-one in order to find someone who is willing to do what you would like (for example, to perform your wedding ceremony on a beach).
- You never know what you’ll find online! Keep your eyes on social media sites like Groupon, Living Social, and others. You may be one of the lucky ones who finds a great deal from a licensed officiant who will perform your wedding or vow renewal ceremony at a lower cost.
I planned my own Destination Wedding and everything went off without a hitch — we got married barefoot on the beach in the Bahamas! I like to help brides-to-be find unique ways to do things that will ultimately save them time & money on their wedding. I write about "outside the box" wedding ideas that most people wouldn't think of! When I'm not exploring the latest wedding trends, you can find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).