If you've attended the same church since you were a child, choosing an officiant to marry you may be a piece of cake. For others, it's not so easy, and it can be a difficult, rocky road to travel until that right person is found.
Not only do you have to find someone who's compatible with you and your fiancée's beliefs, personalities, and overall wedding wishes, you now have to worry about the person being legit.
Recently, a former minister in Canada was charged with seven counts of unlawfully solemnizing a marriage and seven counts of fraud, according to globeandmail.com. Rachel Margaret Montgomery-Heersink, who was ordained in 1999, had been stripped of her ministerial duties by the United Church of Canada in 2001, yet she continued to conduct ceremonies for several years that followed.
This is just one case of many fraudulent officiants in the world, but there are many ways to protect you and your family from these kinds of scam-artists ...
- If you're using a "freelance" officiant, ask for a copy of the person's license or certification to marry couples in your state. Don't be afraid to ask for references either.
- If a person shows that they're ordained by an Internet site, such as the Universal Life Church, contact your local county clerk's office to make sure that your state recognizes that kind of designation.
- Your local county clerk's office can also direct you to many Justices of the Peace who are legally certified and willing to perform wedding ceremonies. These officiants are usually well-quipped to perform weddings, especially if you desire a more secular ceremony.
- If you're brave, your state may allow a friend or family member to have a one-day designation as a Deputy Commissioner of Marriages. Having a close friend or relative marry you could be a wonderful experience as long as everyone's on the same page.
Overall, the best advice to follow when choosing an officiant is to follow your instinct. If the person feels wrong and challenges how you want the ceremony to go, don't use them. An officiant helps set the tone for your wedding, so be selective and choose the person just like you would choose your dress or cake.