How to find your wedding officiant

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Mary Gehr, a wedding officiant in Atlanta, walked us through some typical wedding officiant services and shared top things you should be aware of before starting your hunt for a wedding officiant. Below is what she told us.
You can contact Mary Gehr, Wedding Officiant directly at (404)913-2730 or marygehr@atlantaweddingofficiant.org

What are the parts of a wedding ceremony?

There are many variations of a wedding ceremony. The great thing about contemporary ceremonies is that they can be customized to meet the individual interests of the couple. Below I have listed the main elements of a wedding ceremony outside of specific rituals that could be religious or unity focused.I do believe that every wedding ceremony should include the elements I highlighted in yellow.

  • Prelude
  • Announcements
  • Processional
  • Brides Processional: Please stand for the presence of the bride
  • Presentation Of Bride: Who presents this woman to be married to this man?
  • Greeting
  • Remembering Those Who Are Not Here With Us
  • Opening Prayer/Words
  • Joining Of Hands
  • Marriage Address
  • Ceremony Reading
  • Declaration of Intention
  • Exchange of Vows
  • Presentation of Rings
  • Vows to Children/Family
  • Unity Tradition
  • Uniting Of Family/Rose Presentation
  • Ceremony Reading
  • Closing Words/Blessing
  • Declaration of Marriage
  • Marriage Kiss
  • Introduction of Husband and Wife
  • Recessional
  • Signing Of License/Certificate

Where can a couple find sample wedding vows?

Sample wedding vows are posted all over the web. A couple can simply do a URL search for sample wedding vows. In addition, I do offer a list of sample wedding vows that I have compiled over the eighteen years I have been officiating.

In addition, I do offer a list of sample wedding vows that I have compiled over the eighteen years I have been officiating.

Can a celebrant refuse to marry a couple?

Yes. Each celebrant has their own beliefs on who and where they are comfortable in officiating a wedding ceremony. The only times I have personally refused to marry a couple was due to the travel distance or previously committed obligations on their specific date they selected. I have never canceled once I contract with a couple.

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“Does anyone here feel just cause why this couple should lawfully not wed today? Speak now or forever hold your peace.” There have been some joking comments during this time, but never a serious rejection.

Have you ever witnessed an objection at a wedding?

No, I have never witnessed an objection. Years ago, I incorporated this in all of my ceremonies as it was a required element of the religious wedding ceremony. “Does anyone here feel just cause why this couple should lawfully not wed today? Speak now or forever hold your peace.” There have been some joking comments during this time, but never a serious rejection.

Can a notary perform a wedding or marriage?

Only in a few states can a Notary perform a wedding ceremony without being ordained first. I personally am a Notary in the state of California where I reside part-time. The reason I am certified as a notary in California is because this is one state that allows the Notary to provide the actual marriage license to the couple in place of the couple going to the county clerk’s office to establish a marriage license. I then am able to officiate their wedding ceremony on the spot and sign the license after doing so.

Only in a few states can a Notary perform a wedding ceremony without being ordained first.

Can a couple be married without a ring?

Yes, most definitely. Although wedding rings are very traditional, a couple can be very creative in utilizing other symbols demonstrating their bond together as husband and wife. Others may not have any physical symbolization of their legal bond. The requirement is a signed marriage license after the ceremony.

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The most important thing is that the couple feels extremely special that day so they have a lifetime of memories.

What are some things you can do for inexpensive weddings?

With access to the worldwide web, a couple can plan a wedding very inexpensively today. Couples can find just about anything for their wedding on the web. You can do price comparisons so easily.

Invitations can be self-created on a website or software tool. Outside of the web, you can have low-cost wedding musicians from students currently enrolled in music classes instead of professionals. Ceremonies and receptions can be in a home or garden. Outdoor public park or lake settings are typically free to use. Couples can make their own food, or ask family and friends to help. There are so many low-cost solutions for couples today. The most important thing is that the couple feels extremely special that day so they have a lifetime of memories.

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I personally perform wedding ceremonies every single day where couples just want to be married by themselves as they truly know that their marriage is about the union of two people joining together emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Is a wedding about the couple or the family and friends?

A wedding is absolutely about the couple first and foremost. Many couples choose to have their family and friends in attendance so they can all celebrate together on their special day. Other couples have a small and quiet wedding ceremony and then hold celebrations with family and friends on another day or later the same day.

I personally perform wedding ceremonies every single day where couples just want to be married by themselves as they truly know that their marriage is about the union of two people joining together emotionally, physically and spiritually.

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