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
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.
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 Voila, 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.
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