PERFORMING THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY
In other words, what makes you legal to perform the wedding? Have you submitted your Letter of Good Standing, if necessary? Do you have a hard copy of your credential, if necessary? Are you the appropriate (legal) age in that state to perform the wedding?
The Universal Life Church ordains individuals without question as to beliefs, for life and for free. By becoming ordained, you are given that right to perform weddings legally.
Each state has its own rules about who can perform weddings within its borders. If you are unsure, call the local county clerk where the wedding will take place and tell them you are a new minister and would like to know if you need to register or follow any other procedures before performing a wedding within that state. They will be able to tell you. If they appear to not know at all, it is probably a non-registration state. Please look up the marriage laws for the state as well to confirm.
The following excerpts are taken from the Wedding Officiant Training Kit on how to perform weddings:
There are a number of different ways you can conduct your consultations. I'll mention a few ideas and you can tailor them to suit your personality.
The way I do the consultation is that first I tell them over the phone a little about how I do the ceremony. I explain to them that the ceremony is broken down into parts and that they are welcome to choose which parts they like, make the ceremony as short or long, religious or secular, funny or serious as they want and are also encourages to tailor it to suit themselves. I also offer them a free copy of my book, The Ultimate Wedding & Ceremony Workbook For The 'Planning-Impaired' to help them. All the ceremony parts are listed in the book for them to choose from and there is a list of processional examples to help them with that aspect of the ceremony. The pages even tear out. I have provided a list of the processional examples below.
I personally find it easiest to let the couple choose for themselves. I have often been asked if the couple wrote the ceremony themselves because it so accurately reflected who they were as a couple. Also, by giving them a copy of the book, I'm also giving them tons of planning information and the ability to customize the ceremony themselves. This saves me a lot of work and puts the control back into the hands of the couple. They appreciate the assistance and are more apt to give a referral to a minister who gave them something for free.
Having the book has made my life much easier because now I just explain the parts, give them the book and let them create the ceremony that best suits them. To compensate for the cost of the book, I just raised my prices by $15 to cover the cost. If you are interested in ordering more than one copy to give to your couples, you can order five or more at considerable discount. To learn more about this, go to the certificates section of the shopping cart.
Then I quote them a price. (First I find out where the wedding will be held so I can determine if there will be a travel charge.) I generally don't tell them how much I include for travel because however much it is will sound like too much to most budget-minded couples. If it's far, then I tell them that the price includes travel.
When I meet with them, I show them my binder, explain each of the parts, write down the particulars of their wedding on a worksheet and secure a deposit. Some ministers don't require deposits, but a deposit assures me that if the wedding is cancelled or if they're not really serious, my time was not wasted and the book was paid for. The deposit also assures the couples that the time-slot for their wedding is guaranteed.
The Wedding Itself
When I go to a wedding, I usually bring my entire wedding binder. I do this for several reasons: First of all, if I have my binder, then I have all the information at my fingertips. If the couple decides to make a change and they want to add something, then I have it right there for them.
Secondly, I sometimes have several weddings to do in one day and not enough copies of the parts printed out. If there aren't any changes, I can re-use different parts of the service. This saves dramatically on copying costs. I leave 10 or more plastic pages in the back of the book to arrange the current ceremony I'm doing or, to keep things lighter, I use a separate smaller binder and put the ceremonies in there.
Thirdly, I have pictures in the binder, which I have been asked to show around on more than one occasion. Maybe there is a picture from a friend's wedding they want to see. Once, I went to a wedding where a lot of people looked familiar and I couldn't understand why. One person in particular looked familiar, so I flipped through my binder and it turns out I'd done his wedding the year before. (It's hard to remember everyone!) at your weddings.
Areas for pre-marriage discussion
Finances: One account or separate?
How will each contribute?
How will you handle your bill paying?
How will you make decisions on large expenditures?
How will you make decisions on savings?
House hold duties: Who will do what?
How will you be merging your belongings?
Will each of you have a “space”?
Children: Do you plan to add children to this union?
If so, how many?
Birth or adoption?
Are there any family illnesses/conditions that might affect your children?
If not, how will you handle birth control?
How are existing children being brought into this union?
What will be the division of child care/discipline/responsibilities?
Events and holidays:
How will you decide what to attend? Will both of you go?
Which holidays or anniversaries are important to you?
What traditions do you have for these events?
Whose family will you spend which days with?
How do you like to handle gifts?
When do you expect them?
How will you determine what to give the other? Cost? Timing?
Do you have shared interests and friends?
Have you discussed the continuation of existing friendships?
Religion or spiritual practices:
Have you discussed your beliefs with the other?
Do you have a preferred religious/spiritual practice?
Are you in agreement with the other’s perspective and/or practice?
How will you handle this component in your life together?
If there are children involved, how will this be handled?
Have you discussed end of life issues and wants?
When and how do you best communicate?
When you have difficulty in communicating?
Do you communicate clearly?
Have you discussed pet peeves – or annoyances?
Do you trust the other with the full truth? Both to give and receive.
How do you handle bad news?
Do you know how to fight fairly?
Do you take the time for good news sharing?
Do you like surprises?
How would you like to receive unexpected news?
Do you agree on fidelity issues?
Do you have an agreement on how to keep your communication open?
How do you want to be cared for when you are ill?
Do you feel that you can truly be yourself?
Do you feel you can share openly with the other regardless of the topic?
Do you feel that your sex life together is compatible?
Can you talk openly about your likes/dislikes sexually?
Do you feel respected by the other?
Have you discussed your dreams/plans for the long-term future?
These questions should be answered from two perspectives – 1) are they true for you as a partner and 2) do you consider your partner to have the following issues?
Do you have a drinking or drug habit? Is this a problem?
Do you have other addictions?
Do you have medical or mental health issues?
Do you have a criminal history?
Do you have anger issues?
Do you have control issues?
Do you have family of origin issues?
Do you have jealousy issues?
How have you resolved previous relationship problems?
Do you have issues with a former spouse/significant other/parent of your children?
Have you discussed former financial issues that may impact the relationship?
Do you feel that you are freely entering this relationship?
Do you feel safe with the other?
Do you take good care of yourself?
Are you willing to seek professional help with any of these issues if needed?
Open communication and honest discussion prior to marriage can help establish a firm foundation for a long and happy future together.
Often time’s couples slowly forget that this relationship is one that needs care and tending. Please consider continuing to plan “date night” on a regular basis. Remember to schedule time for sharing, listening and having fun together.