Wednesday, September 16, 2009

INFO: Wedding Officiants Should Know the Law!

Recently, there was a half-heartedly written, poorly researched article on Eventective about 'How to Choose an Officiant'. There are many such guidelines online, in magazines and in books. Unfortunately, almost none of these how-to articles address or advise asking the question:
**Even if an officiant is indeed qualified to perform/solemnise wedding ceremonies, does he/she know the family code or law pertaining to marriage?**
In other words, are there certain things required by the state in order for a valid marriage ceremony to take place? In the state of California, PLEASE note the following about the contents of a ceremony itself:

Section 420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.
The above pertains to the vows, for example.

Regarding the question 'Can I have a friend do it?', be aware that ordination is NOT the only qualification in some states. i can only speak for myself, as i am a qualified officiant in the state of California:

Section 400. Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination.

Et cetera.

(Such a list of what one state considers as 'qualified' officiants does NOT necessarily apply to all states in the U.S.! )

ANY reputable officiant (including all experienced clergypersons) should immediately be able to tell you, what the state law or code is. The bottom line is, do some research about your own state's requirements for those who are allowed to authorize or solemnize a marriage...or hire an officiant who has done the research for you.

One last thing: online ordination is not only accomplished via the Universal Life Church. There are many secular organizations available.

No comments: