Your Questions, My Answers

I’m sure you have a lot of questions. I have collected frequently asked questions (FAQ) with my answers on this page. This FAQ is as complete as I can make it for your general inquiries. If you have a question that is not on this page, please feel free to ask it by following the link to my couple’s inquiry page. Follow this link for a list of questions you should consider asking your officiant candidates.

Practical Matters

FAQ: What is your fee? Are there any extra fees for mileage, extra ceremonies, attending the rehearsal, etc.?

All of the ceremony details and fees laid out on the Affordable Packages page of the website answer this question in detail. You’ll find add-ons, like the Unity Ceremony, on the A-la-carte page, with more details on dedicated pages and in blog posts.

The minimum we book for a complete wedding is one consultation, the ceremony, and the marriage license session. This is listed as a Copper or Bronze package, depending on how much customization you want in the ceremony. This is a quality measure to ensure you get our best service.

  • The consultation is an hour long in-person or video interview to get to know each other and plan the details of your wedding. I feel that is an important element to establish a relationship as we proceed with your wedding.
  • The ceremony, of course, is the time blocked out for your wedding. This typically begins for me about thirty minutes to an hour before your ceremony kicks off and finishes after I have put away anything I brought to help with the proceedings.
  • The license session is booked separately because it is sometimes inconvenient for the couple to meet after the ceremony to take care of paperwork. We may need to meet on another day to sign the licenses and go over the paperwork. Typically, though, this session follows shortly after the ceremony. Learn more about licensing in the section below.

FAQ: Travel Fees Apply to Weddings Some Weddings

My service area is North Puget Sound. For me, that includes Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. All transportation costs are included for weddings inside my service area. If you host your wedding outside the service area, a travel fee will apply. I will calculate the travel fee at the time of the quote and based on your exact needs.

FAQ: How do I pay you? Do you accept credit cards?

I accept cash, checks and all major credit and debit cards. You receive your invoice in your own custom website and may pay your bill online or in person. Note that a non-refundable $200 retainer is due at the time you sign your contract. The retainer covers all preparation up to the day of the ceremony and reserves your wedding date and time on my calendar, including travel and time as laid out in your contract. See your contract for details.

FAQ: Can you help me deal with family conflicts connected to the ceremony?

It seems that everyone has an idea about how your special day should go. Some of those suggestions may be exciting inspirations that you can’t wait to include. Others may fall flat; but, it’s Aunt Euridice … what can you do?

I can help mediate the potential for drama within your family and manage expectations for the ceremony. If something comes up, you can expect my support to make your wedding happen your way. Let me know in advance, and I will advocate for your best interests.

FAQ: How do you handle a noisy guest?

First of all, I rarely encounter a poorly behaved guest at the weddings I have officiated. We suggest setting strong boundaries from the beginning. First, decide how you will handle topics like guest photography or social media posting. Let your guests know these boundaries up front in your invitations and on your public wedding page. I will reinforce your expectations during the preamble to your ceremony. This strategy has prevented unfortunate incidents to date.

Should the unfortunate situation ever arise that you have one or two guests disrupting the ceremony I will handle it as tactfully as circumstances allow. Alert me to potentially disruptive situations and we can manage them before they ever start.

Planning Stages

FAQ: Do you have a video we can watch showing you at a past ceremony?

I have videos of past ceremonies on my YouTube channel. I often ask permission to record the ceremony, so I can review my performance. These are not professionally produced videos, merely recordings that I make for quality control. The couples whose recording you view have been kind to give me permission to record and to make them available for your insight and inspiration.

FAQ: Are you willing to marry us at a nonreligious site?

I will come to virtually any location to perform your marriage. The limitations are solely based on my medical and physical safety. Honestly, I have yet to refuse anyoneÔÇÖs request. If you donÔÇÖt have a location in mind, I can help you find the perfect venue that is within your budget and abilities. I will be happy to help you in any way possible.

FAQ:  Will you perform an interfaith ceremony? What restrictions do you have any on the type of ceremony you will perform or requirements to officiate my wedding?

I will happily work with another officiant to meet your requirements as a couple. Your diversity strengthens us all, and I welcome the opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions. As an ordained Protestant minister, I am confident in my ability to deliver a beautiful ceremony within the context of my tradition and I am happy to serve anyone who desires to marry. However, I wouldn’t presume to officiate a wedding that involves cultural elements outside my sphere. In those cases, we would need to work with someone within that tradition.

FAQ: What about secular and same-sex marriages? If so, is there a ceremony format that is gender neutral?

Mostly, I officiate secular weddings. The majority people in the Pacific Northwest don’t closely identify with a particular religious or spiritual tradition. Many want to focus on each other and their future in the wedding service, and I have ceremonies tailored to your need.

I wholeheartedly support marriage equality. The bond between two people who love each other enough to gamble a lifetime commitment is worthy of honor, so I will strive to make your ceremony reflect both of you. Specifically, I will work to create a beautiful ceremony that reflects your personalities and include the language and pronouns that you want.

FAQ: Can we meet with you in person before the ceremony?

Absolutely! Let’s meet before the marriage. I want to get to know you both and ensure that your ceremony reflects who you are. I think that meeting is a critical step to establishing our working relationship.

If we cannot meet in person, then I believe we should video conference. Phone conversations are good, however, I feel that important nuances may be lost if we’re unable to see “eye-to-eye”.

FAQ: How many wedding planning sessions do we have with you?

In short, as many as you need. It all depends on the complexity of your ceremony. I recommend one or two for a Micro-Wedding to be performed in the next two weeks. If your wedding is further out, then two to four meetings would be enough.

FAQ: Do you require that we receive counseling?

I don’t require counseling as part of the marriage contract. In most cases, a couple finds me after they have spent a lot of time together, and so know their strengths and weaknesses. So, while counseling may be a benefit to your married life, it isn’t a requirement.

I do offer counseling sessions to couples who are preparing to marry or renew their vows. The counseling consists of a series of exercises and meetings to help you develop real communication and realistic expectations as you enter married life. Again, this is not a requirement for marrying, but the service is available. Expect a minimum of five sessions if you choose a counseling package.

FAQ: When I need to reach you, how do I contact you? if I can’t reach you right away then how soon can I expect you to respond?

You may contact me by telephone, text, Messenger or email. I also respond to cards and letters.

If you need an immediate response, please call me. If I am unable to pick up immediately, please leave a message. I will call you as soon as I am safely able to do so.

If you contact me using text or Facebook Messenger, you may expect a response within 24 hours. I can usually respond to this method within the hour, but sometimes circumstances will prevent me from doing so. For email, please expect a reply within 48 hours of my receiving your letter. I usually reply the same day that I receive your email.

The License

FAQ: Will you help us obtain our marriage license?

Most noteworthy, in Washington State, you are required to obtain the marriage license packet from your county office in person. Neither I nor any other agent can legally do that for you. In most counties, the County Auditor’s office handles the paperwork required for a legal marriage. The counties where I most often work are Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom. Follow the links for specific instructions from each of those counties.

The good news is that a Marriage License obtained in any Washington county is valid in the entire state! If you are living in Spokane County and wish to get married at Kayak Point County Park, you can get your license in Spokane before you come here. Check this list for information on your county. If you are from out of state, I recommend applying for the license in the county where you plan to marry. Check this list for information on how to apply.

FAQ: What guidance do you have on applying for our marriage license?

Washington Marriage licenses are effective three days from the date you apply and are valid for sixty days. I recommend applying about thirty days before your wedding so that you aren’t trying to get it during the final week, and it is still valid on the day of your wedding.

FAQ: What’s in the License Package?

When you pick up your license, it will come in a document packet. The contents vary a little bit among the counties, but they all contain at least the following:

  • The Marriage License. I keep this form to certify that I have married you.
  • The Marriage Certificate. You may hang this certificate on the wall. This certificate requires your signatures, two witnesses, and my signature.
  • The Marriage Certificate Application. Submit this form to the county to certify that you have been married. Some counties require duplicate forms. This certificate requires your signatures, two witnesses, and my signature. I recommend you keep copies of this form. NOTE: If you don’t turn in this form, your marriage is unregistered – hence, you aren’t ‘legally’ married. You absolutely must turn in this form!
  • A Franked Envelope. A business-sized envelope provided for your convenience. After we have signed, I will usually put your signed form in the envelope, ready to attach a stamp and mail.
  • Miscellany. The county will usually include one or two informational brochures and may include a document envelope for the wedding certificate. There may be guidance on the name change process. One county includes a pamphlet on the privileges of married couples.

When we have signed all the documents, I will go over all this information. I’ll remind you to turn in your certificate form. You may, optionally, ask me to take care of that for you. Once your certificate is on file with the county, you can obtain certified copies for legal purposes. You may need those for legally changing your name and updating that information with state and federal agencies.

FAQ: Will you walk us through the name change process afterwards?

NOTE: Your name change is not automatic. You will need to apply for a name change. You will want to consult your county auditor for specific instructions.

Here’s an outline of the general process for changing your name. There are slight differences among the counties, so you may have a different experience. Here’s what the flow looks like:

  1. You applied for and received your marriage license packet at least 3 days, but not more than 60 days before your wedding.
  2. We held the wedding ceremony within the window and we completed and signed the paperwork.
  3. You turned in your certificate application forms. There isn’t any deadline on this but sooner is better.
  4. After a week or two, you check with your auditor’s office and find that the paperwork was correctly filed. They will not notify you when this step is done; you must check.
  5. Finally, you order certified copies of your certificate and pick them up or receive them in the mail.

Firstly, I suggest you obtain 8-10 copies of your certificate. That is at least one for each agency you need to file with, plus two or three additional copies to have on hand. Agencies or organizations you should consider changing or updating your name with includes social security, the state driver’s license office, the county voter registration office, your employer, bank, or insurance company. You may also consider immigration services and the passport office.

Each organization has its own form or process for changing your name. Most will simply require a form or letter and a certified copy of your license. Many of the easy ones, like the DMV, have staff that will help you through the process. Some, like updating your passport, will take weeks.

FAQ: How do you aid and speed up obtaining a certified copy of the marriage certificate?

Because two or more government agencies are involved, getting your certified copy takes time. Consequently, the quickest way for you to obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate is to take your license into the county of origin on your next available business day and file it in person. When you do, ask for the time frame you can expect the filing to get completed. After the filing date, check with the office to find it is complete then go in, personally, and order your certified copies. It is your personal involvement that could make this happen in as little as 3 to 5 business days.

In conclusion, if you are leaving town for your honeymoon and your license is from Snohomish, Skagit or Whatcom counties, I am willing to file it for you by mail. You, or a legally designated representative, must pick up the certified copies.