Choosing your Wedding Officiant
Without an officiant your wedding is just a big party. These are questions to ask yourself when choosing your wedding officiant:
- Would a civil ceremony (magistrate/justice of the peace) suffice?
- Would you and your fiancé/partner like a male or female officiant?
- Do you want an experienced officiant who specializes in weddings or are you willing to allow your friend/relative/acquaintance or wedding coordinator to officiate your ceremony?
You may want to return to this question after reading the rest of this article.
- If you are both of the same faith, do you prefer an officiant of that faith, or is a non-denominational/interfaith Minister your first choice? If you are from differing religious backgrounds and you would like both traditions represented, you may want to consider an interfaith Minister as he/she can also add elements from both traditions. This is acceptable and done frequently. Although expensive, an officiant from each denomination is also an option.
- If yours is a destination wedding and you have a Minister or officiant at home, are you willing to bear the travel expense of bringing your Minister or do you prefer to find a local officiant that is more budget friendly?
Having answered these questions, you can make a great start in choosing an officiant. Times have changed, as evidenced by the following: anyone can be ordained online and perform wedding ceremonies, although in some states Ministers must have been ordained by a human being. In some states a Minister who presides over a “brick and mortar” church is necessary. An experienced officiant should be aware of local law whereas the newly ordained often are not. One may run the risk of thinking their marriage is legal when in truth, it isn’t. Another factor to consider is that Pastors, Ministers and priests of local churches often refuse to marry anyone from outside their congregation.
A massive variety of “extracurricular rituals “can be added to a wedding ceremony to enhance the experience. Examples include: a love letter box, Unity candle, handfasting, God’s knot and a rose ceremony to name but a few. Experienced Officiants are familiar with many of these and know how to present them.
The nature of couples marrying today has changed. Blended families with children on both sides, adults waiting to older ages to wed, same-sex marriages and seniors marrying later in life are perfect examples. If any of these match your circumstances, there are appropriate additions or adaptations that can be made to your ceremony by an experienced officiant.
Final considerations: experienced officiants know the local laws of the county or state you’re to be married in. They will also know the Marriage Licensing process and can advise you intelligently of that process. The nuances of your wedding can be customized and adapted to your personal circumstances. Unexpected circumstances may be professionally dealt with by an experienced officiant while your friend or relative who has never performed a wedding may have no idea how to deal with the unexpected? Think carefully about the sanctity and sacred nature of a ceremony that will be performed in front of your relatives, loved ones and friends. It should be guided and directed by someone with experience, wisdom and an open heart!
How do we proceed if we feel we would like to have you officiate at our ceremony?
You may phone us or contact us by email in the Contact Us section of this site to inquire about our availability for your date. Once we have established our availability for your date and location, we will conduct a short interview with you so we may determine if you feel we’re the appropriate officiants for your ceremony. This consultation is typically done by phone however if you would prefer to meet with us somewhere in Boone or nearby, we’ll happily arrange a mutually convenient time. This consultation is free. If you decide one of us is the appropriate minister, we ask for a 50 percent non-refundable deposit in order to hold your date and to begin developing your ceremony. This may be paid in cash, by check, or by credit card.
When and where should we apply for our marriage license?
In North Carolina, your marriage license is good for sixty days from the day you apply for it. You may apply in any county in the state and bring the license with you to the ceremony. This means if you live in North Carolina you may obtain your license in your home county and bring it with you. If you are from out of state, then you can call the clerk of court in your area and ask or you may look online for marriage license information in your state. If you prefer to apply in Watauga County, you would apply for your license in Boone, NC at the Watauga County Courthouse on King Street. Proceed to the Register of Deeds office. Signs for Marriage licenses are prominent in the Courthouse and the offices typically open at 8am and close at 5pm (4:30pm is the deadline for submitting an application) Monday through Friday. You will need photo identification, a birth certificate and if you have been divorced, you may need official proof of your divorce. The staff is friendly and helpful. For more information on obtaining your marriage license from Watauga County please click here.
What about the marriage license and payment?
Your officiant will collect your marriage license from you upon arrival for your ceremony or rehearsal. We will complete the license at the ceremony and immediately mail the license to the appropriate Register of Deeds. This is our legal responsibility and we take it very seriously. We recommend you request a certified or registered copy of your license when you apply for your marriage license, as you will then be able to make appropriate name changes to your social security account or to your driver’s license. There is a fee for this copy however it will save you a great deal of time after you are married.
How much is your fee?
For ceremonies within thirty minutes of our offices, we charge $300.00 without a rehearsal. For ceremonies with rehearsals, the fee is $450.00. For ceremonies more than thirty minutes away from our office in Todd, there is an additional $50.00 fee per trip. For locations involving greater distances or extenuating circumstances, we will discuss the fee with you.
Can we have photographers during the ceremony?
Sandie and Gregory enthusiastically welcome your photographer and videographer to take pictures during the ceremony. This part of your service will be very important to you and often it passes quickly. The pictures you see afterward may be your best visual memento of the service.
What about a rehearsal?
We will be happy to participate in and lead your rehearsal should you wish. During our initial conversation with you, we will ask if you prefer to have a rehearsal, which typically takes place the day before the wedding and involves those members of the wedding party who can be present. Gregory and Sandie recommend a rehearsal when the wedding party exceeds four people or when the ceremony is complex. The purpose for a rehearsal is to reduce any stress for the bride, groom and wedding party. If you have a wedding coordinator, we will happily work with he or she during the rehearsal and throughout the process.
Will you be attending our rehearsal dinner and\or reception?
Reverends Sandie and Gregory feel your rehearsal dinner and reception dinner are events for family and friends that you’ve invited to celebrate with you. We construct the ceremony, perform it, complete your license and after a few photographs we will depart so you can enjoy your guests and the rest of your special event. We do not wish to add to the expense of your wedding by attending these events.
What type of clothing will you wear?
We typically dress in robes which are eggplant (purple) in color and include an off white stole. Gregory is willing to wear a black suit if you wish, however it will depend on your wedding’s degree of formality and your wishes. For weddings near mountain streams or in rugged outdoor settings, we will attempt to blend into your ceremony. Less formal attire is appropriate for mountain locations that are difficult to get to. We will discuss these details with you and customize our clothing if necessary
How far will you travel to marry us?
If we are available for your date, and if you are certain you wish Sandie or Gregory to perform the ceremony, we will travel to any point in the High Country, or beyond to perform your ceremony. For any destination more than thirty minutes from our office, we will charge a travel fee.