FREE DIY Holiday Tote Bag Workshop at PARCEL Market (this Saturday!)

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Romancers. In case you haven’t seen all my craaaaaaazy social media posting about it, I am THRILLED to announce here that I am participating in PARCEL Market at Canal Park this Saturday!! What is PARCEL Market at Canal Park you might ask? Well let me tell you:

PARCEL Market at Canal Park, presented by the Capitol Riverfront BID, is an engaging & urban outdoor holiday market featuring a 10,000 square­foot ice rink, interactive art installations,a cozy food pavilion warmed by fire pits, live & local music performances, DIY creative workshops, and a styled festival tent showcasing a thoughtfully curated list of talented local designers, artists, chefs, and food artisans. With PARCEL, we strive to elevate and urbanize the concept of a holiday market event. By incorporating handmade, modern styling and showcasing emerging and independent brands, retailers, food producers, chefs, and local musical talents, PARCEL will create an overall festive and unparalleled experience for market­goers of all ages.

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PARCEL Market will be located at the contemporary Canal Park, a 2­ minute walk from the Navy Yard Metro’s New Jersey Avenue exit at 200 M Street SE, Washington, DC and will operate THIS WEEKEND ONLY: Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, 12PM -6PM.

PARCEL is going to be JAM PACKED with awesome retail & food vendors and a whole area dedicated to DIY Workshops run by yours truly & a handful of other super rad local DC vendors. The workshops were announced a few weeks back, and almost all reservations were filled up within 45 minutes!! But if you still want to attend one, head to PARCEL and sign up in person, the morning of the workshop. More details can be found here: http://www.parcelmarketdc.com/workshops/

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Image: A Creative DC

My workshop will be on Saturday afternoon (just before the Tree Lighting!!) from 3pm to 4pm and we’re using the negative space canvas art technique we taught at our first Capitol Romance DIY Workshop of 2015 to help you guys create holiday tote bags:

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Other FEATURES of PARCEL include:

  • ­Curated large­scale retail tent featuring local & small businesses, artists, and designers
  • ­Food & lounge area featuring DC foodie favorites, warm drinks, and cozy fire pits
  • ­Live musical performances by local DJs and bands
  • ­Interactive art installation created by local DC­based artist, Kelly Towles
  • ­Retail art installation created by local floral stylist, Taffy Floral
  • DIY creative workshops curated and led by A Creative DC
  • 10,000 square­foot ice rink
  • Kids & pet­friendly
  • Free & open to the public

So who’s coming ?! I hope to see you at my workshop OR at PARCEL in general. Get all your holiday shopping done by supporting local DC businesses ANNNNNNNNNNNNND I will be selling my VERY OWN super secret project at my workshop tent. So stop by to check THAT out (more to come here….)!!!

See you Saturday <3 <3 <3

 

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Guest Post: 5 Elements of a Healthy Relationship

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A few weeks ago when I wrote my personal post reflection on 5 years of being married, a lovely lady on Twitter responded to the post, telling me it inspired her to write her own relationship reflection. I LOVED her post so much, I emailed her and BEGGED her to let me share her post on my blog. As I’ve mentioned before, I long to share more posts here about relationships & marriage but I have such a hard time ever getting anyone to write those posts for me. I can only write so many about my own marriage/relationship ;) So maybe Amy’s insanely awesome post will get you guys jazzed to send me more (please? pretty please?). It’s important for us to focus on love, commitment, and relationships just as much as it is to focus on the rad details of a wedding day. Because while a wedding is just one day, your marriage is forever.

Take it away Amy!!

5 Elements of a Healthy Relationship (& Why We Need More People Talking About Them) | By: Amy Kocur

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There are TOO MANY articles on, “how to win the guy”, “when to lose the guy”, “how to gay-flirt in a straight culture”, “how to know when a relationship is toxic”, and not enough expounding on what a good, healthy, long-term relationship looks and feels like.

I don’t claim to know.

I’m here to acknowledge the void and need for such material (to be present on more mainstream media outlets, I’m sure it’s somewhere, but no one’s digging for it). I am 9 months into a healthy, intimate, strongly committed relationship and I’m basically in the dark here. How do I gauge if we’re “doing it right”? What did 9 months in look like for couples who are together 9 years? 29 years? My co-worker, Janna, is celebrating her 10 year anniversary this winter and I try to ask her about it regularly.

What I do know:

#1. Attraction isn’t a question. I dated a ‘good guy’ for a long time not knowing if I was actually attracted to him. Now, this isn’t to say looks are everything – they are not and they fade. But there is something I see when I look in my partner’s eyes that makes me want to connect with him, physically, and emotionally.

#2. We want to do the work. A lot of people acknowledge that relationships take work but I would love to see some anecdotes on what this has looked like for long-term couples. Alex and I talk openly and honestly, however, we also seek support outside our partnership to sort of balance our emotional level before returning to any specific discussion. Also, having a tradition of ‘surprise dates’ helps reintroduce fun and play if we’re too steeped in stress.

#3. My partner can handle my weaknesses. This falls in the “makes me want to be a better person” category. I struggle with food. My partner’s obsessed with green smoothies. He struggles with tidiness. I find organizing really enhancing. Super nerdy, but there are also deeper emotional examples. To be able to hold each others vulnerabilities, I’ve heard, is what enables a pair to last.

#4. Dan Savage has taught me well. I didn’t grow up with an extensive or helpful sexual education and it hindered me. If you don’t know something and you want to know more, learn about it, don’t just hope the problem corrects itself. In my 5-year span between serious relationships Dan Savage started a podcast, and I’m grateful for it. It has really served me to learn about being Good, Giving, and Game, rounding up to “the 1”, and how to not let the past determine the future (also what ‘sounding’ is but those early episodes were wild).

#5. We value the same things. Nature. Quality time. Trying new things. Music. Travel. Spirituality. I worry sometimes that our sense of humor isn’t the same or we don’t hit certain socially-determined dating expectations. However, we have fun. Moreover, we have fun doing things we both value deeply. I grew up swimming in the ocean by my father’s house but hadn’t in well over 5 years, when I got out from under those waves this past August, Alex could see I was lit up in a way I hadn’t been in too long. When I accompanied Alex to his childhood home and watched his daughter play along the lake as he did as a child I watched him overcome with emotion and how glorious life and love can be. He takes me out of my Washington, DC social media hyperdrive and we exist together in real life, in pure enjoyment. From the terrifying pitch-black darkness of Violet Locke at midnight to the most rambunctious Foo Fighters 4th of July, it’s been incredible fun, in a slowed-down, be in the moment sort of way. For that, I am grateful.

I have no idea if these 5 things mean it will last. The Buddhist philosophy Alex has opened me to emphasizes impermanence. However, I’d like to think we’re meant to last. Regardless, we do our best to stay in the now and focus on everything in front of us today. To see how that’s worked for couples like Bree and Andy or Janna and Yao is encouraging and I’d love to read more.

All the love. x/Amy

So where you at my long-term (and even short-term) relationship and married folks?! We want to hear from YOU!

Our 5-Year Pop-Up Vow Renewal with Pop Wed Co!

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Images: Pop! Wed Co

As you might remember, Andy & I celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. It was sort of an emotional weekend with the Paris attacks unfolding all day Friday (our actual Anniversary), I had a hard time getting into the loving spirit. But then Saturday my parents came to watch Evie and Andy planned such an amazing day to celebrate our 5 years together.

In the morning we got up and got dressed (sort of, Andy gave me NO guidance on what to wear – I didn’t even have makeup on!!) and he drove us out towards Logan Circle. I had no idea what was going on. We passed some of the places I thought we were going, until we finally parked on a street near the church we got married at. I thought, hmmm maybe our family is waiting there for us. Then as we walked over, there were envelopes tied to bushes & branches, leading down the block to the church. Each envelope had a number and a year on it. Andy read each one, highlighting the things we did together during our first, second, third, fourth, and now fifth year of marriage together.

As we turned the corner to the church, to my utter shock (picture evidence here), our dear friends Maggie & Steven were waiting to give us a surprise pop-up vow renewal, on the very steps of the church we said our original vows 5 years previous.

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^Pretending we just got married.

Then we headed down to the Decatur House (where our wedding reception was) to enjoy some DELICIOUS cupcakes from Grassroots Gourmet & take a few more fun pictures there.

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—> Click inside for the rest of our pop up 5-year vow renewal! <—

Local DC Small Business Holiday Gift Guide

 

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You guys KNOW how I feel about repping and promoting my fellow small business owners. And I don’t know about you, but I just love getting friends and family gifts from local DC creatives because then I get to sort of brag that these talented people live/work here in my favorite city and hometown. So I thought it would be fun to share my Local DC Holiday Gift Guide in case you need some ideas for family and friends this year!

1. Holiday Cards & Other Letterpress Fun from Typecase Industries

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Awesome designs with sassy phrases – you can’t lose getting your cards from these fabulous ladies. Also they make the BEST holiday tags. Also we teamed up to make something together that will be on sale OH SO SOON.

2. Neighborhood Prints from Cherry Blossom Creative

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I love my H Street neighborhood print and we ALWAYS get compliments on it when people come to our house. They even created a NoVa print for all you Virginian readers out there. ALSO. Along with Typecase Industries, Cherry Blossom Creative just opened a GORGEOUS brick & mortar in Atlantic Plumbing. Go check them BOTH out. ASAP.

3. Gorgeous Handmade Leather Bags, Wallets & More from Stitch & Rivet

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Not a day goes by that I don’t drool over my next purchase from Stitch & Rivet. I already am the proud owner of one of Katie’s stunning purses, but I long for more. Many more. You can shop online here OR go visit Katie up in the fabulous Monroe Street Market Arts Walk!

4. Custom 3D Printed Jewelry from Love, Lori Michelle

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I am luck to own a super rad, custom Love Lori Michelle necklace that Lori made for me that is actually my logo!! Lori is my go-to for custom jewelry gifts (that queen bee above we had made for my mom!) and there’s no stopping me from continuing to order ALL the things from her. You should too.

5. Annual 2016 Desk Calendar from Hitchcock Creative

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A custom, rad desk calendar is SUCH a great practical (and affordable) gift. I LOVE my desktop calendar from Hitchcock Creative. You will too (and anyone you give it to!).

6. Handmade Soy Candles from Handmade Habitat

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For some bizarre reason (which will be changed immediately) Amina’s handmade Soy candles are the ONLY gift on this list that I don’t own myself. (WTH?!). Especially seeing as my husband is like a candle addict. Amina has a gorgeous online shop full of fun & enticing scents and you can also catch her at tons of local markets.

7. Fine Handmade Alpaca Knitwear from Denada Designs

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Quite possibly the warmest (and most stylish) thing I own. I LOVE my Denada cowl neck scarf (and I bought one for Andy last year. Equal loves). A great gift from a high-end, handmade DC local designer. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Happy Holidays Romancers! Hope you think of one of these amazing biz owners when doing your holiday shopping this year!

DIY Holiday Decor: Decorating with Homemade Orange Slices

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Image & Tutorial: Ribbons & Bluebirds

Romancers! Tonight we are Jersey bound for the Thanksgiving holiday. I have THE BEST (and most simple) DIY Holiday Decor tutorial for you though before I go. I’ll also have an awesome “Local DC Small Business Gift Guide” post up on Friday, so come back for that. But please, enjoy a day of R&R, family, & eating wayyyyy too much good food on Thanksgiving. Hope you all have a FANTASTIC one! Take it away Jenn!

Holiday Décor: Decorating with Homemade Orange Slices | by: Ribbons & Bluebirds

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The holiday season tends to bring out the traditionalist in all of us, whether you’re following in your family’s time-honoured classics or making new traditions of your own! When it comes to holiday decorating, incorporating dried orange slices is a great old-school method to bring a vibrant note of color to your living space. Bonus, they’re SO easy to make, and inexpensive too! In addition to a recipe for the orange slices, I’ve got some tips on how to use them in simple ways to add some holiday spice to your décor that works from Thanksgiving through New Years!

To make the dried oranges, you’ll need

  • Naval oranges
  • Confectioner’s sugar, optional
  • Wire cooling rack and sheet pan

Preheat your oven to 200°. While it’s warming up, slice your orange(s) into very thin slices, discarding each end. Arrange the slices on the cooling rack – the space between the wires will keep the oranges from sticking. For a little more gloss to your oranges, you may choose to dunk them into confectioner’s sugar, placing them sugar-side-up on the rack.

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Place the rack onto a baking sheet, and back/dehydrate the slices for 2-3 hours or until the centers are translucent. Let the slices cool, then they’re ready to use!

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Some ideas using your orange slices to decorate for the holidays:

  • Pair the slices with cinnamon sticks and pine cones for a quick and cheerful vase filler.

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  • Make a holiday wreath, or evergreen swag! To wire your orange slices, use a lightweight floral wire and poke through the outer edge of flesh right up against the rind. Slide the slice to the middle of the length of wire, and twist to secure the wire around the rind. Pair the orange slices with gold and brown floral accents like berries, twigs, and pinecones, and be sure to finish it off with a beautiful ribbon bow.

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Need a little more help making the evergreen door hanger above? Check out Jenn’s own DIY Evergreen & Pinecone Holiday Decoration Tutorial on her blog!

  • Decorate your table with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Drape garland down the center of your table, and arrange orange slices and cinnamon sticks along with other floral accents around the garland.

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They also look great as a garnish for a festive cocktail, cider, or mulled wine, or even as a little zest for a cheese plate!  And for a classic winter wedding, what could be more beautiful than an elegant frosted bouquet with little pops of orange for both colour and texture.

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Business Advice: Boosting Your Business Using Social Media – Tip #1

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A couple weeks ago I introduced my talk from the DC AWP meetup on 5 Ways to Boost Your Business Using Social Media. I’m back today to expand a bit on Tip #1: Keeping Things Consistent.

One of the easiest things I can tell you to do to bring awareness to your business and brand through social media, is to have ALL your social media platforms use the same, consistent naming convention. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, & Instagram – I am Capitol Romance on ALL of these platforms. This makes it easier for people (prospective clients?) to find you, tag you, and realize what they’re seeing is actually YOU.

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Image: eVision Media

Now this is a silly cartoon, but there is truth in this picture. Having a consistent brand/message/image of your business on social media is crucial. So how do you do this using social media? It’s pretty easy:

  • You ensure ALL your social media handles are the same
  • You make ALL your social media images the same

And I know if you are late to the social media platform game, changes are someone might have already taken your handle. Some social media strategists would tell you to either buy the handle OR setup new accounts across all platforms that have the same name. I would suggest that you at LEAST have the beginning of the handles all start the same. So maybe if CapitolRomance was not available on instagram, CapitolRomanceDC would be. I think that is a good compromise.

Now WHY should you do this? Simple, it creates a clear, uniform brand across your social media platforms. It let’s people know, when they land on one of your social media platforms, that they are in the right place, at the right brand/business.

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Though I’ve been fortunate enough to have Capitol Romance across all my social platforms, the issue I have is with the way people spell my business name. Often people spell it with an A and there is a CAPITALROMANCE on Instagram. However, if someone types the incorrect handle in, they rather quickly know they are not at the right place because they don’t see my smiling face, or my hot pink and black wedding photo!

It also makes it easier for other companies to engage with you – if I post a picture from a wedding I have worked and want to tag other companies/vendors in the post, I will most likely only tag vendors that I can easily find. So that is a missed opportunity for you to get some free views from my/someone else’s social media, if your handles differ and can’t be found quickly!

Consistency is an easy and simple way to start making your social media more effective in boosting your business. We’ll be breaking down Tip #2 in the upcoming weeks. So check back.

Deeona & Michael’s Alternative DC Engagement Pictures at National Gallery of Art

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Images: Barbara O Photography

A SUPER productive weekend (crafting! new haircut! rad client consults! a new kitchen table! fun with friends!) and now a short week means EXTRA hustle for me. I have LOADS to do before the Thanksgiving weekend, but I cannot wait to be NJ bound with Andy, Evie & Sadie and enjoy some serious relaxing and  food and family. We’re kicking off the week with LOVE (because that is just what we do) and we’ll be blogging through the week with the exception of Thursday. Because on Thursday, you shouldn’t be reading wedding blogs, you should be eating ALL the things and enjoying time with the ones you love. So here goes Deeona & Michael’s super rad, DC engagement session at the National Gallery of Art.

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Deeona and Michael met at their University and rapidly fell in love with each other.

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Michael wanted the proposal to be really special and meaningful. He had a business trip scheduled to Barcelona and took advantage of it and made it a bit longer in time and took Deeona and the ring with him. Long story short, between looking for the perfect moment, perfect location and being afraid of carrying an expensive ring around ( Barcelona is known by their pickpockets), he end up not purposing in Barcelona and the same way the ring went inside a box to Europe, came back to the States. How funny is that?

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After a well-travelled engagement ring, he prepared a super romantic dinner at their house and waited for her to come back home from work and did everything by the book. They’ll get married next May at St. Regis Hotel in downtown DC.

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Alternative, Bohemian Brunch Wedding Inspiration & Ideas

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Images: Kishana Highgate Photography

TGIF. Am I right? I cannot believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away (I’m so unprepared!) and I don’t even want to think how fast Christmas will follow. For today we have a gorrrrgeous styled shoot from some awesome DC area wedding vendors.

There’s been a lot of opinions of back and forths on styled shoots and if they are good or bad for the wedding industry. Personally, I think (like most things) they work in moderation. I try to feature only a select few on the blog that actually showcase something different. For vendors, they’re a fun way to flex their creative muscle and expand their portfolio to showcase talents that aren’t being portrayed through client work. And for my readers, well, realize that this was a STYLED shoot and that to recreate this for your wedding probably won’t be cheap. But use the elements and inspiration from this funky Bohemian brunch wedding to give you some fresh, new ideas for your own wedding (or life!). Happy Friday alll.

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Vendors ~> Details & Design: Pollyanna Events | Venue: Long View Galley | Photographer: Kishana Highgate Photography | Models: Mug of Love Weddings & her adorable partner | Welcome Basket: Marigold & Grey | Letterpress & Design: Typecase Industries | Hair & Makeup: Alison Harper and Company

About the shoot:

Fall is such a beautiful time of year for a wedding. With all of the bright fall colors the season has to offer, you can turn any wedding into a stunning event. With that in mind, we wanted to inspire couples when planning their fall weddings and encourage them to think outside the box.

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This unconventional, bohemian, brunch-inspired styled shoot, was radiant and left you longing for an indoor/outdoor offbeat fall wedding. We held this shoot at an industrial and exposed brick gallery in the middle of the city. Our goal was warm the space up with welcoming fall colors and then to throw in a pop of HOT PINK! We managed to grab a vintage table filled with an endless amount of mouth watering goodies, and set up just the right amount of perfectly placed details to complete the look.

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Another reason this shoot stood out from all the rest was because we incorporated a lot of DIY items to make this shoot particularly inviting. We mentioned hot pink, which we incorporated through homemade candy apples (learning some culinary skills in the process). We reinvested materials such as unique and vibrate fabrics in several aspects of the shoot. Finally, we utilized an antique chair, which we reupholstered ourselves, for several key shots during the day.

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The shoot would not of been complete without our fantastic models. They were dressed like they stepped out of a vintage, artsy magazine. Alternatively, it could be said the couple looked like they may have been owners of the eclectic city location we found to shoot in. To top off the couples’ look, the bride had strawberry red hair which set off the autumn theme.

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Wedding Planning: How To Have a Friend Marry You In Virginia

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Image: Ceremonies by Jeff

Romancers! I cannot tell you how many times my couples or readers ask me “I want my friend to marry us in Virginia, but it doesn’t seem possible, please tell me you have a solution.” Sadly, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t. I told them most people I knew just went to the courthouse, got married legally, and then had their friend perform more of a ceremony, not an actual, legally binding marriage. Not ideal. But then at my AWP talk a few weeks ago I met Jeff. And Jeff told me he had the solution to this problem!! I asked him to write a guest post, because I felt he could explain it better than me, but the bottom line here is that Jeff, a licensed officiant, can help all you Virginia couples out there that are looking to have a friend/family member that is not an ordained official, marry you!! Check it out:

A Simple Solution for a Frustrating Virginia Officiant Licensing Issue | By guest blogger Jeff Maszal – Wedding Ceremonies by Jeff

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Once a month I receive a telephone call (or email) from a panicked bride (or wedding planner) who starts the conversation with; “Reverend Maszal, I have a unique situation. I’m getting married soon we’re really desperate, can you help us”?

The unique situation: the bride and groom asked their best friend (or a relative or parent) to officiate their Virginia wedding. Only to find out, a week before the weeding, that the local Virginia County Clerk’s office rejected their friend’s application to get licensed as an officiant because Virginia doesn’t recognize online ordination certificates (such as the Universal Life Church, etc). Now the couple is left with no one who can legally marry them and 150 guests showing up Saturday.

The background: Many Virginia couples face this situation because Virginia has strict licensing requirements for officiants. Online ordinations are not recognized. Religious officiants must submit documentation showing they are ordained (or its equivalent) and in good standing with a recognized local or national religious body. Oh, and even some qualified officiants submit their paperwork too late in the process to get approved leaving the couple in the same situation.

NOTE: a little known fact. A friend/family member can file for a one-time civil officiant license but they must live in the county where the wedding is being held.

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The solution. I created a simple “license signing” service for these couples at a reasonable fee providing a win-win for the couple. They get legally married and their friend officiates their ceremony.

I make an appointment to meet with the couple either prior to or after the wedding ceremony. I confirm the couple’s identities and that they want to get married. Then I sign the license. This meets Virginia’s requirements and Wala, they are married. I mail the license into the clerk’s office and the crises is averted.

I do about a dozen license signings a year and it is a privilege to provide a creative – yet legal – solution to a potential stressful wedding situation.

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Jeff Maszal has been officiating weddings for more than 25 years with couples from almost every faith, nationality, and race. He is an ordained minister licensed to perform marriages in VA, MD, and DC. Please visit his website: www.weddingceremoniesbyjeff.com

 

 

 

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