How early should we book your services?
If your wedding is coming up sooner than that, it’s okay. Your wedding ceremony will be more personalized if I have the time to get to know you, but it can still be terrific. And we can complete your premarital counseling after the wedding. (But we would call it “postmarital counseling.” 🙂)
Can you marry us if we don't live in Madison?
If you don’t live near Madison, WI, we can have our wedding planning and premarital counseling meetings via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts.
If you are planning to wed beyond an hour’s drive of Madison, I’ll ask you to cover my mileage costs for the rehearsal and wedding. If the distance is three hours or more beyond Madison, I’ll ask you to cover travel, lodging, and meal expenses.
Are you a minister?
Though I call myself a minister, I do not have a religious agenda for your wedding. I want your wedding ceremony to reflect the values that you and your partner will carry into your marriage.
Are your weddings religious?
I want every couple I work with to have a wedding that feels authentic to them and their guests. If religion is not a significant part of a couple’s relationship and won’t be a big part of a couple’s marriage and family, I don’t recommend that they have a religious wedding. I do want them to make space in their lives to talk about what is important to them, and I want their wedding to reflect the values they will take with them into their marriage.
Can you officiate our wedding at our church?
Can you co-officiate with my [insert name here]?
Some couples want to honor their families’ faith tradition by designing a ceremony that includes a co-officiant. I have co-officiated with a Muslim imam, a Brahman priest, a Roman Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi, to name a few.
I have also co-officiated alongside dads, moms, siblings, and best friends. All I ask is that we be introduced to each other early in our planning, especially if your co-officiant is inexperienced in crafting ceremonies or conducting rehearsals and weddings. You’ll want us to work together.
Are you a wedding planner?
My job as an escort officiant is to help you prepare for a strong, vital marriage, and to work with you to craft a wedding ceremony that celebrates your shared values, hopes, and promises for your future together. I’m responsible for conducting your wedding rehearsal and your wedding ceremony.
Do we really need a marriage license?
You don’t need a marriage license or even a wedding to consider yourself married. And you can have a wedding without a marriage license.
But there are many state and federal rights afforded to legally married couples that are not enjoyed by those whose marriages are not recognized by the government. According to Madison Financial Counseling, marital status is a factor in hundreds of federal statutes that affect a family’s financial well-being, from Social Security and taxation to laws about benefits arising from employment and military service, and there are over 1,100 federal rights and at least 300 state protections that aren’t available to Wisconsin families headed by unmarried partners.
What are your legal credentials?
In Wisconsin, I am legally qualified to officiate weddings as authorized by my Unitarian Universalist congregation at First Unitarian Society. Some states want wedding officiants to show proof of ordination or a letter from an authority stating that they are qualified to perform weddings. I have the papers necessary to serve as an officiant in most states.
In those states whose whose laws require an officiant to register with the state or purchase a license, it’s easy enough to secure those credentials prior to the wedding. I have legally officiated out-of-state weddings from New York to Hawaii.
What are your legal responsibilities?
In Wisconsin, my legal duty is to witness your exchange of vows and affirm, with my signature on your marriage license, that I have done so. (It is the couple’s legal responsibility to apply for a Wisconsin marriage license and bring it to the wedding.) It is also my job to get your marriage license signed by two other witnesses, and to mail it to the Register of Deeds in the county where the marriage was performed.
About pre-marital counseling
Can you officiate our wedding without premarital counseling?
Can we get pre-marital counseling without officiant services?
How do we get premarital counseling if we don't live close enough for meetings?
Does your pre-marital counseling have a religious agenda?
Do you offer marriage counseling?
I approach my work as that of marriage educator. I’m here to help you strengthen your relationship skills. If our meetings uncover concerns or issues that call for expertise beyond my training, I will refer you a licensed therapist/counselor.