FAQs

Answers To Your Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Things To Consider Before Hiring A Wedding Officiant

(Edited from an article by Rev. Debra Scherff)

So, he/she has popped the question, and you are getting married! Now the fun begins. There are so many plans to make and things to think about. The main thing that you will want to decide on is what kind of a ceremony you would like. When you have decided the type of ceremony you want, the next thing to decide is where and who will perform your ceremony. Check with your local county courthouse or the state you live in to make sure who is authorized to solemnize marriages.

If you belong to a particular church and would like for your minister to officiate your wedding ceremony, meet with him or her as soon as you have set your date to make sure they and the church are available to accommodate you, and if they are in fact willing to officiate your ceremony. Many clergy members have their own rules that they adhere to regarding who they will marry.

When interviewing officiants, make certain of a few things before booking.

• Make sure your wedding officiant gives you many choices and control regarding your ceremony.

• Make sure that your wedding officiant is licensed according to your state to solemnize marriages.

• Ask if your wedding officiant requires pre-marital counseling.

• Make sure that your wedding officiant has no problems coming to your chosen site.

• Ask your wedding officiant what his or her policies are in case of an emergency, either your part or theirs.

• Ask your wedding officiant about fees, travel expenses and/or donations.  Make sure there are no hidden costs.

The wedding officiant that you select should be someone that you feel very comfortable with and someone whom you feel confident will perform the kind of ceremony that YOU want. Someone who answers all of your questions and concerns and if flexible with your plans and ideas. Never feel pressured into making a final decision. If an officiant pressures you into booking your ceremony immediately, you may want to find another officiant to interview.

When you are comfortable with your choice, book your officiant as early as possible to avoid non-availability of your officiant. Some officiants require premarital counseling and this may begin long before your ceremony is to take place.

So, go out there and interview officiants, keeping some of these things in mind as you go on your journey. Congratulations!

What Does Rev. Bruce Bring To The Table?

The wedding ceremony is a sacred ritual where, as a couple, you enter into a commitment to take this life-journey of loving, caring, and sharing with each other.

Witnessed by your family and friends, you will vow to be at each other’s side, no matter what life brings your way.

Like an intricate dance, the spiritual union requires that as marriage partners you will adapt to and maintain balance with each other physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  By being linked together, your lives become a duet where each partner shares responsibility for the quality of the dance you create.

You have decided to be married outside the doctrinal definitions of a particular religion or spiritual path.

You now have the opportunity to put your signature on the wedding ceremony so that it reflects your individual and combined beliefs and values.

It is a wonderful opportunity for self expression and a declaration of the power of love in your new life together.

Marriage represents the commitment of two people to each other and to their union; it is important that both individuals are strongly represented in order to make the ritual truly reflective of who they are as individuals and as a couple. I ask you what you want — and then I work with you to create a ceremony that will represent your desires.

When you take the time to symbolically and verbally reflect on the very personal meaning of your union through the process of designing your own wedding ceremony, you give yourselves the opportunity to really clarify and share your deepest feelings, needs, and desires with regard to these aspects of your lives.

The very act of creating the ceremony can be a sacred journey of expression and commitment to one another.

What I can bring to the table is a helpful, loving ear to your needs. I have no particlular agenda, other than to help you through the process of creating a personalized ceremony that reflects the level of spirituality you wish.

Creating your ceremony
  1. You have final approval over the script.
  2. I will collaborate with you every step of the way so that the ceremony is tailor-made for you.
  3. There will be no boilerplate ceremony be imposed on you.
  4. You are encouraged to personalize your ceremony.
  5. I encourage – but do not require pre-marital counseling.
  6. I will officiate your ceremony at almost any site!
  7. All fees and costs are fully disclosed – no hidden or surprise charges.
  8. There are always last minute changes – so I will be understanding and do my best to cooperate with you.
  9. I will do my best to answer all of your questions and concerns.
  10. I want you to feel comfortable with me – feedback is always welcome.

I am ordained (1992) by the Universal Life Church, State of California. However, my personal beliefs have no place in your ceremony. What you believe is of the highest importance. I can, with your guidance, represent the spiritual aspects of the eternal witness without any conflict

What Is An Officiant?

This is the cleric or secular official that carries out the ceremony. For non religious weddings, he or she might be a justice of the peace, magistrate or even the Captain of a ship (when onboard).

An officiant is someone who officiates at (i.e. leads) a service or ceremony, such as marriage, burial, or namegiving/baptism. Officiants may be ordained by any denomination as members of their clergy, or by secular/Humanist or Interfaith/Interspiritual religious bodies. Officiants differ from Chaplains in that Officiants serve the unaffiliated public at large, while Chaplains are usually employed by an institution such as the military, a hospital or other health care facility, etc. The term “Officiant” also includes Justices of the Peace, celebrants, notaries, and other people empowered by law to perform legally-binding private ceremonies.

A Marriage officiant is a civil officer who performs acts of marriage or civil union. Their main responsibility is to receive and witness the consent of the intended spouses and to ensure the legal formalities, and hence the validity of the marriage or civil union, observed.

Who Is The Right Officiant For You?

Finding someone to be the wedding officiant at your wedding can sometimes be a more daunting task than finding your betrothed – especially if you are not affiliated with a particular house of worship or if you are marrying outside of your faith.

The key to finding an officiant who is in sync with you and your partner is to ask questions. Your wedding should be a customized ceremony, reflecting who you are as individuals and as a couple. To do this, your wedding officiant must understand your beliefs, your values, and what makes your bond so special.

Since it is easy to get caught up in the details of your reception, remember that your ceremony should be the most important part of your wedding day-treat it with reverence and find a wedding officiant who does too.

When will you arrive? The wedding officiant should be available at least 30 minutes before the ceremony in order to run through any last minute changes, and to coordinate details with readers, musicians, photographers and videographers. The officiant should always there at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start.

Does your fee include a full rehearsal at the wedding venue? Many officiants don’t rehearse, but a full rehearsal is essential for a beautifully choreographed ceremony – and for calming last-minute nerves. Many religious officiants do not charge fees, but accept donations, if offered.

Do you provide your own public address system? If you are having your ceremony outdoors or in a venue that doesn’t often cater to weddings, you will likely need to bring in an outside PA system. These details need to be worked out well in advance.

Can we vary the traditional choreography of a wedding? You may wish to face your guests rather than the officiant, or have the officiant stand to the side instead of between you and your spouse. Make sure your officiant is open to these suggestions. Of course, you should be able to alter the traditional.

What training do you have in creating and officiating at ceremonies? Look for those who have a sound background in the history of ritual and ceremony. You may be looking for a wedding ceremony that is a spiritual non-denominational ceremony.

The wedding officiant should coordinate as needed with musicians to provide music cues for the ceremony, with photographers and videographers to assist them in getting the best shots, and with the staff of your venue to ensure that the ceremony will not conflict in any way with their requirements. Of course, other professionals should welcome.

How soon after the wedding ceremony do I need to return the marriage license?

Ten (10) days. Family Code, Section 359(e), states: “The certificate of registry shall be returned by the person solemnizing the marriage to the county recorder of the county in which the license was issued within 10 days after the ceremony.”

When is a duplicate marriage license issued?

According to Family Code, Section 360: “(a) If a certificate of registry of marriage is lost or destroyed after the marriage ceremony but before it is returned to the county recorder, the person solemnizing the marriage, in order to comply with Section 359, shall obtain a duplicate certificate of registry by filing an affidavit setting forth the facts with the county clerk of the county in which the license was issued. (b) The duplicate certificate of registry may not be issued later than one year after issuance of the original license and shall be returned by the person solemnizing the marriage to the county recorder within 10 days after issuance.” Contact the County Clerk in the county where the license was issued to find out the cost and process for issuing duplicate marriage licenses.

Do I have to review the marriage license prior to solemnizing the marriage?

Yes. The marriage license must be reviewed by the marriage officiant prior to solemnizing the marriage. Any person who solemnizes a marriage without first reviewing the license is guilty of a misdemeanor (Penal Code, Section 360).

What statutes pertain to confidential marriages?

Please visit California Legislative Information for the pertinent Family Code, Sections 500-511. A couple comes into the Recorder’s Office and presents their marriage certificate issued in a foreign country. They want the Recorder’s Office to record their foreign marriage certificate in California. Can their marriage be recorded in California? No. A foreign marriage certificate cannot be recorded in California. If the couple needs to establish a record of the marriage in California, they can file a petition in Superior Court to establish a Court Order Delayed Certificate of Marriage.

Will I automatically receive an official copy of my marriage license?

No. You must request and pay an additional fee to receive an official (certified) copy of your marriage license. Download a copy of the Application for Certified Copy of Marriage or Divorce Record (PDF).Opens a new browser window.

Can I have more than two witnesses sign on my public marriage license?

No. The public marriage license requires the signature of one witness and, if desired, has a place for an additional witness. No more than TWO witnesses may sign on the public marriage license. Only one signature per line is allowed.  No witnesses may sign on the confidential marriage license.

Can an ordained minister from another state perform a marriage ceremony in California?

Yes. If they are authorized under Family Code, Section 400, out-of-state ministers may perform marriages.

Can an ordained minister perform a marriage ceremony for multiple couples at the same time?

Yes. There is nothing that prohibits multiple couples from being married at the same time.