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Wedding Officiant Choices: From Your Priest to Your Best Friend

Wedding Officiant Choices: From Your Priest to Your Best Friend

While couples may automatically choose to be married by their minister for justice of the peace, many wedding officiant options are available. Couples often don’t realize how many options there are. The engaged couple could easily get married by a friend or family member as long as the person becomes ordained before the wedding. Many people believe a ship captain can marry a couple in international waters. What are the possible wedding officiant choices?

Minister or Priest

Couples who attend the church often have their minister or priest perform the marriage ceremony. This is the most traditional choice. For couples who do not attend church but would still like a traditional church wedding performed by a minister, several churches allow the minister to marry couples who do not attend the church.

Justice of the Peace

Many non-religious couples choose to be married by a justice of the peace. Couples who are having a destination wedding in a foreign country may want to be married by a justice of the peace in their own country first. Getting married in a foreign country can be very complicated. Becoming officially married for the wedding in another country can eliminate having to navigate through that nasty red tape. Judges and justices may not be the only local officials who can marry people legally. In some states, a city’s mayor can perform marriage ceremonies.

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Newly Ordained Friend or Family Member

If you would like to have someone close to you perform the ceremony, there are some organizations with websites that offer to ordain anyone as a minister. For example, the Universal life Church offers free ordination. However, not all states recognize ministers ordained from such websites as having the ability to perform a legally binding marriage ceremony. Therefore, the couple will need to verify acceptance of the ordination with the local authorities.

Cities have different requirements for someone who is newly ordained before the person can perform the ceremony. Some cities require that the person completes the ordination at least one month prior to the ceremony. The person may need to register with the local government. In many cases, the requirements are rather simple. There may be a time restriction saying that the minister performing the ceremony must have been ordained at least one month prior to the wedding.

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Ship Captain?

The myth that a captain can perform legally binding ceremonies probably stems from Hollywood. Movies and television shows have perpetuated the myth. A captain cannot marry a couple legally unless the captain became ordained. Some captains have become ordained just so that they can offer those services. Cruise lines that offer wedding cruise packages may have the ceremony performed on land by a Justice of the Peace or non-denominational minister prior to the start of the cruise, on the boat during the cruise, or at a destination port. Couples should be sure that the cruise line offers the kind of wedding that they want.

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Please browse the Best for Bride blog for more helpful wedding planning information. The Best for Bride blog contains articles on many subjects relating to wedding dresses, invitations, reception decor, and many other wedding tips.

3 thoughts on “Wedding Officiant Choices: From Your Priest to Your Best Friend

  1. I did not realize the troubles it would be to get married in another country. Thanks for making that point and giving me a heads up on that.

  2. Amazed this article doesn’t mention civil celebrants!!

    1. Great point Michael. I didn’t even think about that until I saw your comment and had to go back to read it again!

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