Questions and Answers

What is the difference between an Officiant, Celebrant, Justice of the Peace, Minister, etc.?

An officiant is actually the umbrella term for any person that conducts the wedding ceremony and legalizes the marriage. A Justice of the Peace, a Priest of a church, a Rabbi or an online ordained Minister are all considered officiants. The word "celebrant" is another type of officiant,
but they often have more education and possibly other certifications. 

 

The main difference between a Justice of the Peace and any member of the clergy is that a Justice of the Peace is a position appointed by political party in the town or state in which that person resides. A specific number is chosen for the Republican and Democratic parties, with some reserved for unaffiliated persons as well. JPs are selected and sworn in every four years during a presidential election year. 

 

Many priests, ministers or pastors will only perform wedding ceremonies within the bounds and properties of their church. Roman Catholic priests will not marry couples outside the church. However, American National Catholic priests are able to marry in other locations, like the venue where the reception is being held. The rules for other clergy may vary by religion and denomination.

 

Individuals who are not aJustice of the Peace or members of religious clergy can become ordained as non-religious ministers to officiate wedding ceremonies. Organizations like The Universalist Life Church or American Marriage Ministries can provide this ability. While they are not legal in all 50 states, online ordained ministers ARE legal in the state of Connecticut. 

Why are there such a wide range of prices
for officiants?

This is a super loaded question which can start to be answered
with another question: 


What kind of wedding ceremony do you want to have?

 

Are you okay with the idea of a “template” ceremony which is prewritten, and the names are just changed to suit? Or would you prefer something more custom and tailored to you? How do you want to feel during your ceremony? How do you want your guests to feel and what do you want them to remember most about your wedding day?

 

There are so many options for officiants, and with the exception of the clergy, most of them are self-taught. Many officiants do weddings as a full-time business while others use it as a secondary income to their full-time job. Because of this, there is a wide range of prices you can find for officiants and many of them undervalue/underprice their work and their critical role in the wedding day causing vast competition in the field. 

If my prices seem higher than others, it's because
Ever After Memories is my company and my sole "job".
I do this full-time and put everything into creating custom and personal weddings for every couple. 

 

Long answer short, you can find officiants that range anywhere between $100 - $1000 and up. No matter what type of wedding you’d like, it’s fair to budget at least $500 for the officiant. Keep in mind, the officiant’s job is not just the 30-60 minutes that they are at your wedding. Their time begins the moment you have that first conversation.

 

Even if they are not creating a custom ceremony, a good officiant, will take some time to get to know you. They will be there for you for the whole process. On the day of the wedding, they should arrive early, coordinate with the other vendors; photographers, the planner, and do a sound check with the DJ.

 

They are there to greet guests, calm nerves and answer last minute questions. They orchestrate the ceremony with precision and kick off the rest of the celebration on the right note. And finally, when the day is done, they accurately fill out your marriage license and return it the appropriate clerk’s office in a timely manner. 

Can a Justice of the Peace
create a custom ceremony?

ABSOLUTELY! For some reason, there is a misconception about what a JP be can do over other types of officiants. Just because a JP is a politically appointed position does not mean the officiant can’t get creative and give you something more than a template from a book. The most “templated” ceremonies actually come from religious organizations because they are bound by their doctrine to do certain things. And unfortunately, many couples have turned towards getting a friend ordained for that one day because they don’t want to be in a church, and they don’t feel like a JP will be personal enough. This is just simply not true.

 

So, I shouldn’t ask my friend to
officiate my wedding?

Here’s my honest opinion on friends/family members officiating. 
It may a good idea if:

  • They offer and are really excited about it.

  • They do the research both for all the legal aspects
    and ceremony writing.

  • They are good writers AND excellent public speakers.

  • They are willing to give you final say in everything they’ve written before the wedding day — NO Surprises!

  • They understand the difference between a ceremony and a toast/roast.

 

BUT these points are some reasons why it may not be the best idea:

  • You ask them and they seem nervous about the responsibility.

  • They already have a critical role in your day,
    like maid of honor or best man.

  • You are trying to save money in your budget.

  • You are effectively asking a friend to work your wedding for free.

 

These last two points are really key and kind of go hand in hand.
The amount of money you’ll spend on an officiant is not a huge savings compared to any other vendor or item you’ll pay for that day. Isn’t it worth it to know you’re trusting a professional instead of imposing on someone else just to save a few dollars? 

 

While weddings are meant to be joyous times there are always moments of stress and tension. Mistakes can be made and suddenly you are never speaking to that friend or family member again. I always tell people:
I’ll never give you a reason to, but because I am a professional business, you can fire or sue me — but you can’t really do that to your best friend if they do a bad job with your ceremony. 

 

What happens if you get sick or have an emergency on the day of our wedding?

I have networked with some of the state's finest officiants. In the event of an emergency, every effort we'll be made to find you a suitable replacement. If I cannot find you a replacement, your fees will be refunded. To date, I have never had to do this. (Fingers crossed!)

How do I get my marriage license?

In the State of Connecticut, the marriage license needs to be obtained from town clerk’s office, in the town where the ceremony will take place — not where you live. It is obtained no more 65 days before your wedding. (See changes due to covid-19 below)

 

Both parties to need to go in person and bring with you:

  •  Valid Photo ID

  • $50 fee (cash or check)

  • Name, Address, Phone of your officiant

  • Correct spelling of your parent’s first, last and mother’s maiden name, as well as birthplaces

  • Marriage license worksheet may be available for download from town web sites to save time.

 

You do not need a blood test or witness signatures for your marriage license. You may need to bring a divorce decree to prove you are not currently married if this is not your first marriage. After the wedding, you can fill out a “request for certified copy of marriage certificate” form on the town’s web site or ask if you can fill it out and pre-pay the fee at the same time of the application. That fee is $20.