Frequently Asked Questions
These questions are designed to address issues and questions about your wedding ceremony. If you have questions or seek advice on how to create your own personal wedding ceremony feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 505-238-7685.
First the BIGGIE: how much does it cost? The usual honorarium is $250.00. There might be further charges for long distance travel and lodging. Please see #20 for a full answer and details.
1. How do we write our own wedding vows?
2. What is the difference between a Declaration of Intent and our Vows?
3. Do I want my wedding to be religious or secular? What if my fiance doesn't go to church or doesn't believe in God?
4. Have we budgeted for a wedding officiant and is there a down payment required?
5. Is an officiant's experience an important factor for us?
6. What are our expectations of our wedding officiant?
7. Will the officiant follow an Order of Service or allow us to make up our own ceremony?
8. Will my wedding venue play a part in our officiant's availability?
9. Will we be required to attend couples' counseling?
10. What happens if my officiant cancels at the last moment?
11. Will my officiant marry us if we're not married in their church?
12. Will my wedding day affect the availability of some officiants?
13. Can I have a Catholic wedding outside a Catholic church?
14. I am a divorced Catholic without an annulment. Is this a problem?
15. What does Bishop David wear during a wedding ceremony?
16. How long are ceremonies?
17. Is a rehearsal necessary?
18. What services does Bishop David provide?
19. What documents do I have to change my name on?
20. How much does it cost & Should I make a downpayment?
21. Do you include other faiths' traditions in your ceremonies?
22. Do I sign my maiden name on the Wedding Certificate or my husband's name?
23. Do we need to, or should we, invite our wedding officiant to our rehearsal dinner and wedding reception?
24. Do you do interfaith weddings?
25. Have you ever done a destination wedding?
1. How do we write our own wedding vows?
The couple can work on these individually or together. Some couples like to work on them separately so that the reading at the Wedding is a surprise and a Kodak moment.
Decide whether you want to repeat the same vow to each other, or make it personalized by each spouse.
To begin with, think about your married life, not the wedding. What does it mean to be married to your spouse? What does he/she mean to you? What does marriage mean to you? What do you want in your life ahead? These vows are public commitments to one another.
Read traditional marriage vows to get an idea of what has been important through the ages. Read the wording out loud, to get a feel for what it will sound like.
Write up a rough draft including your images of your marriage in the future, what you want your married life to look like, and then rework it until you are satisfied it what it says and how it is said. Why are you marrying this man/woman? What characteristics do they have that draw you to them? These vows should come from your heart and desire for your spouse in the coming years.
When ready, run it by your Wedding Officiant to get their input. Your officiant has heard LOTS of vows through the years. Listen to their advice, then rework it.. or not… as the two of you wish.
2. What is the difference between a Declaration of Intent (or Consent) and our Vows? Do we need to have those Declarations of Intent in our ceremony?
First of all, Yes, you do need to have them in your ceremony and they come before the Vows. The Declaration of Intent/Consent is the officiant's declaring, or asking the two of you: bride and groom, if you are free to marry each other. In other words you are free to marry and you are not being forced or coerced into this wedding. Most often this is done with these or similar words: "Do you take N. to be your wife? Do you take N. to be your husband?" Your answering "Yes" or "I do" tells everyone that you are marrying your spouse by your own free will. In some ceremonies the officiant asks if anyone knows any reason why this wedding should NOT take place, in other ceremonies the officiant asks "Who gives this bride away?" In all of these the intent is to show that the couple are marrying each other freely and without force. This is shown by the officiant's questioning.
The Vows are different from the Declaration of Intent because they are the bride and groom's public commitment to each other. In the Vows the couple address each other, either through statements "I, N, take you to be my wife. I promise to be true to you..." "I, N, take you to be my husband. I promise to be true to you..." or by answering "I do" to the officiant's question "Do you take this woman/man to be your wife/husband? Do you promise to be true to him/her...." or by writing your own Vows to each other. So the big difference is that in the Declaration of Intent the officiant establishes that you two are free to marry, and in your Vows you two marry each other through your promise to commit to each other.
Remember: the officiant does not really marry you, you marry each other. Your officiant is the authorized witness for the State government that your marriage is legal.
3. Do I want my wedding to be a religious or secular ceremony? What if my fiance is a non-believer and doesn't go to church?
If you are a spiritual or religious person, and your wedding is more spiritually centered you might want to go with an ordained clergy person of your same faith or denomination. If you have no religious or spiritual preferences you can always contact officials such as Justices of the Peace (JP’s), non-denominational ministers and wedding officiants or others who are legally able to witness your marriage in your state. Religious ceremonies often tend to be more lengthy in time and have a set Order and vesture, while more secular ceremonies tend to be open to your choices and wishes. Do you want your officiant to wear church vestments? a judge’s robe? a suit? Be clear with what you want and assess the openness of the officiant to wearing the apparel of your choice.
If one of the bridal couple is a Christian or Catholic and the other is a non-believer, there has to be a common ground or place of compromise found. One party should not force the other party into a ceremony they will resent or "blow off." The Christian partner deserves some recognition of God or Jesus, while the non-believer does not need to promise or ask the blessing of a divine Being they don't believe in. Bishop David can assist the couple in working through this but ultimately it is the couple who makes the last decision on wording and format for the ceremony.
Bishop David is usually requested to officiate at ceremonies where at least one party is Christian, but not always. He has had requests for, and has available, HUMANISTIC or non-religious ceremonies that do not address God or Jesus, but support the belief of general human good and the love between the couple, and even celebrate the spirituality of Nature. These ceremonies are especially welcomed by agnostics, non-believers, or those who have been hurt by their church or a religious person from their past. Bishop David does not judge any individual but believes every couple has the right to a ceremony of their choice and belief system.
4. Have we budgeted for a wedding officiant?
Wedding officiating has become a business and many officiants have set fees and sliding scales. Ministers and clergy may have fees or stipends depending on whether or not you are married in their church/chapel or if they free-lance as officiants. In any event, fees will probably apply. Just like working with any other vendor (an agent who provides a service to you) you should ask what the fees are, what they include, and if you are required to pay a deposit.
Bishop David does not require a deposit, but if two separate couples want the same date and time... the couple who makes a down payment is the couple who gets that time and date. A down payment confirms the reservation of time and date, its that simple.
(A Note on confirming the date: Bishop David gets many calls to ask if he's available for a certain date... but often no follow-up by a bride or parent, since they "just called for information:" they are being informed shoppers. To confirm a date Bishop David meets with couples and develops a ceremony; he sends the couple a ceremony draft and a letter of confirmation with the information discussed. If a couple does not meet with Bishop David there is rarely letter of confirmation, except in situations of long-distance preparation and via email. In other words: just because you called and talked with us about a certain date and time doesn't mean that you confirmed that date with Bishop David.)
5. Is experience an important factor in selecting my wedding officiant?
The question you have to ask yourself is: Will it matter to you if your officiant/minister has only performed a handful of services or do you want someone is more seasoned? Officiants who are more experienced will often have developed the awareness and sensitivity to work with couples of various backgrounds and through experience provide examples and suggestions of what works, and what doesn’t. THAT is the knowledge you are looking for in an officiant.
Bishop David has officiated at over 400 wedding ceremonies.
6. What are our expectations of the wedding officiant?
What do you require and what do you desire of your officiant? If using a clergy person do you want them to wear traditional vestments? Are there certain scriptures you would prefer to be read during the ceremony? You should discuss any expectations you have of your officiant prior to the wedding rehearsal. Hopefully you as a couple have met with your officiant before the rehearsal because at this point NOBODY likes surprises or disappointments! If you do not want a religious service or readings do they suggest or provide alternative poems/reflections available for your review? Is your officiant willing to meet with you choose him/her? How often will they meet with you: once? twice? as often as necessary? until the ceremony is finalized to your liking? Do they attend the rehearsal or just show up for the wedding ceremony?
7. Will the officiant follow a traditional order of service according to my faith or allow us to create our own ceremony service?
The State requires only three things in the wedding ceremony: 1) a Declaration of Intent/Consent to show you are free to marry, 2) your Vows exchanged with each other, and 3) the Officiant's Declaration that you are legally married "By the authority vested in me I now pronounce you husband and wife." Everything else is a wedding ceremony prepared by the couple and wedding officiant/wedding minister for family and guests, and to meet religious tradition.
Some members of clergy/wedding ministers strictly follow traditional Orders of Service specific to their faith. Perhaps you want to write your own vows, but does the officiant allow that? You want your children involved but maybe your church doesn’t support that? Perhaps the bride wishes to walk down the aisle alone but the officiant pushes for the more traditional bride and father? These are things that you and your fiancée should discuss with each other before you discuss them with the officiant, then gauge his/her comfort level with your wedding wishes.
Bishop David and Abundant Blessings Wedding Officiant work with the bridal couple to develop a personalized ceremony unique to the bride and groom. Through long experience Bishop David can give a couple advice on what works... and what doesn't, and then the couple must make the final decision.
8. Will my wedding venue play a role in an officiant’s availability?
If your wedding reception and ceremony will take place at the same location (one where alcohol is served, for example) ask your officiant if he/she is comfortable performing your ceremony in an environment of that kind. Is the officiant open and comfortable working in a hotel ballroom? wedding chapel? outdoor rose garden? Rather than forcing or coercing an officiant to accept your chosen venue, it’s a lot easier on all concerned if you find an officiant willing to work with you and your wishes, and will work with you to fulfill your image of your perfect wedding. Bishop David and Abundant Blessings Wedding Officiant are very open to ballrooms, chapels, outdoor venues, and so forth.
9. Will we be required to attend wedding preparation and/or couples counseling?
The State does not require any premarital couple counseling or marriage preparation for the couple to marry.
In some faiths, couples are required to attend and participate in premarital counseling or Pre-Cana. This is something you have to address if your heart is set on an officiant who follows this tradition or church law or if you have a specific timeline in mind. If you don’t have the desire or the time for premarital counseling, you need to move on and find an officiant who does not require this. Abundant Blessings Wedding Officiant and Bishop David DO NOT require pre-marital counseling. Bishop David DOES offer pre-marital counseling but does not require it.
10. What happens if my officiant cancels at the last moment?
Sometimes due to an accident or illness life intrudes and your chosen officiant just can’t make it… to the rehearsal or wedding. Presuming that this is known ahead of time, your officiant should have a back-up plan and a pre-arrangement with another officiant or minister on whom THEY can call to substitute. It is not really your responsibility to find an officiant at the last minute. Your Wedding Planner can help you in this regard since they often have worked with several officiants/ministers and by this time are aware of your desires. The key here is to let everyone know the status as soon as possible: the more time the less hassle there is which allows a seamless transition of officiants; and a professional officiant should have no trouble coming in “cold” to an emergency situation.
Bishop David has worked with an ordained Old Catholic priest for emergencies who has officiated at non-denominational weddings .
11. Will the officiant perform our ceremony if we are not married in his/her church?
Do you want to be married at your home church; do you want to be married in a certain church? Many churches rent their worship space only to their own congregants or parishioners. Are there exceptions to this church rule? If you have your heart set on this or that certain church or site, be prepared to submit to their rules. For example, the Roman Catholic Church does not rent its churches except for parishioners and forbids its priests officiating at a wedding outside of a church. They do not allow their priests to officiate or minister in weddings in wedding chapels, ballrooms, gardens, or outdoor sites. Some churches are very open to renting their worship space and halls because this is added income to the church.
12. Will my wedding day affect the availability of certain officiants?
Some couples choose to have their weddings on an “off day” (a day other than the ever-popular Friday evening or Saturday). If your wedding day is one that the officiant holds worship services on, or is on the day of religious observance, you’ll want to sort out any scheduling issues that may arise. Many sacramental churches (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalians, even Lutherans) as a rule do not allow weddings on Sundays or Holy Days.
13. Can I have a Catholic wedding outside of a Catholic church?
Yes. Bishop David, through Abundant Blessings, provides as “Catholic a ceremony as you want!” He is an ordained old catholic priest who has prepared and officiated at hundreds of ceremonies. Bishop David has a “Catholic Wedding Ceremony” which includes all the Catholic prayers and format of the wedding rite, and for those who wish there are references to the Rose to Mary, Lazo (Lasso), and Arras (coins). Many couples want a catholic ceremony but have been refused because of co-habitation, divorce without an annulment, or lack of membership in a parish. Given his catholic background, Bishop David is well situated to work with those couples who wish to incorporate their faith and values.
14. I am a divorced Catholic but don’t have an annulment and we want to get married. Is this a problem for setting a wedding date?
Not with Bishop David. Some faiths, like Roman Catholicism, forbid a marriage to take place without the annulment in place. They will not allow a priest to marry the couple in church. Abundant Blessings provides a catholic ceremony outside of church using, if the couple wishes, the full Catholic wedding rite. Many couples also choose to include a Communion Service as part of their catholic wedding ceremony but this is up to the bridal couple. Not having an annulment is not an issue with Abundant Blessings or Bishop David, who believe that every bride and groom deserve the best wedding they can have.
15. What does Bishop David usually wear during a wedding ceremony?
Bishop David has worn “high church” Mass vestments for Catholic weddings, and usually wears an alb and wedding stole (white garment with a stole with two gold rings) for most non-denominational or inter-faith weddings. He has also worn a judge’s robe (black scholarly robe), and a suit for a simple, reserved civil ceremony. Rather than impose one type of vesture on every wedding ceremony, Bishop David tailors his garb according to what he and the couple agree upon and the type of ceremony performed.
16. How long are your ceremonies?
It all depends on the type of ceremony the couple wants. A civil ceremony takes 3-5 minutes while the full Catholic wedding will take about 40 minutes. But a civil, non-religious ceremony can have poems and reflections and shared comments by guests added on to make it as long as 30 minutes or more! A non-denominational wedding usually takes about 25 minutes. Most weddings take about 25 minutes.
17. Is a rehearsal necessary for our wedding?
No, a rehearsal is never necessary. Having said that, it does help the wedding party to go through the ceremony once before it actually happens so that they can get a general idea of placing and movement. A rehearsal is included in the services that Bishop David provides for every couple. The wedding ceremony itself is prepared weeks or months ahead of time by discussions between Bishop David and the couple so that at the rehearsal and wedding, there is a script that all are familiar with and approved. Wedding planners are also involved with rehearsals and sometimes volunteer to run the rehearsal without the need of the officiant. All of this is agreed upon weeks before the rehearsal so that there are NO surprises. Nobody likes surprises at this point!
18. What services does Abundant Blessings and Bishop David provide?
Once a couple contacts David, a face-to-face meeting is usually set to get the couple to express their ideas and wishes for their ceremony. The couple talks about what they like and don’t like (from other weddings!) and what they want in their own ceremony. David takes notes and works up a draft of a ceremony and later emails it to the bride and groom. He asks the couple to think about the wedding party and how they will come up the aisle, seating of families (more important than ever in this age of blended families), who and how the Unity Candle will be lit, and any traditions they want included in their ceremony.
Now there is an email back-and-forth of drafts and ideas until all parties agree on the format and process of the wedding service. Once more there is a face-to-face meeting between David and the couple as they review the hard copy of the wedding ceremony. This meeting clarifies any points or questions on the ceremony. David tries to get this done no later than two months before the wedding so that the bride and groom have one less thing to worry about as the date gets closer. The ceremony should be all done at this point!
At the rehearsal Bishop David arrives with the script of the wedding service. Here he volunteers to keep the State Wedding License. The wedding party is lined up and the entrance, ceremony, and exit are rehearsed. Music is not usually present, though noted during the rehearsal. The rehearsal takes about 45 minutes to an hour, or about twice as long as the actual ceremony.
On the wedding day David arrives about one hour ahead of time to make sure there are no last minute issues, or to deal with them as they happen. He makes sure everything is in place, from the rings to the Unity Candle, and the license is ready for signing.
After the ceremony the pictures are taken, and especially noted is the photo of the couple signing the license. Bishop David offers to take the license and mail it the next business day. Why? His experience is that when it is given to a family member or groomsman or bridesmaid, it sometimes “gets lost” because they are distracted and waiting for the party to start: it’s put on the floor, under a chair, under the plate, on the table, left in the bridal prep room…. The last service Bishop David does is to make sure the license is mailed to the County Clerk for recording on behalf of the bride and groom. It is recorded in the Clerk’s office and then sent to the address of the bride and groom in about ten business days. If a bride or groom changes their name, this license provides the proof necessary to affect a legal change of names.
19. What documents do I have to change my name on?
No one HAS to change their name after a wedding, since there is no law requiring that. When a spouse changes his/her name legal documents which carried the “old” name must be revised to now reflect the new name. These documents include, but are not limited to:
Insurances: vehicle, life, health, home
Social Security Records
Financial Records: mortgage, 401ks, retirement funds,
Professional Licenses (many professionals, medical doctors for example, keep their professional public name and may quietly change their personal legal name, if they
change it at all.)
20. OK, now the biggie! How much does it cost and should I make a downpayment?
The usual honorarium for Abundant Blessings Wedding Officiant's services is $250.00. This includes all services described in #18, above. Bishop David does not ask anything up front or "half now half then" but trusts the couple, and his trust has rarely been broken yet. The couple usually gives Bishop David the full honorarium the night of the rehearsal.
Please note: one thing to keep in mind is that a down payment will "hold" or keep the date whereas if another couple requests that date and time, Bishop David must naturally go with the first couple who reserves the date and time with a downpayment. This is simply because Bishop David has had (unfortunately!) cases where a couple has requested a date and time, another couple came with the same request and Bishop David turned them down, and then the first couple passed on Bishop David as an officiant.
21. Do you include other faiths' traditions in your non-denominational ceremonies?
Absolutely. Bishop David has had Christian interfaith weddings (Catholic-Catholic, Catholic Christian, Christian-Christian, Christian-nonbeliever), Christian-Muslim weddings, and Christian-Jewish weddings. Bishop David also has several HUMANISTIC ceremonies available, which are not religious in nature. Muslim traditions include readings from the Qur'an. Jewish traditions Bishop David has incorporated into his ceremonies included Scripture readings from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Christian Old Testament), the use of the chuppah, the 7 Blessings, the Benediction/Blessing of Aaron, and the Breaking of the Glass.
22. What name do I sign on the “Bride’s Name” line of wedding Certificate after the wedding?
You sign your maiden name, because this is the name on the Wedding License from the state.
This is the last time you will sign the name as such because you will take the license and change you name on your Social Security, driver license and so forth,, if you do change your name.
If you are traveling after the wedding on your honeymoon, no matter how short or long, it is
important that all your names match on all your official identification. Most brides do
not change their name on their driver license or passport until after they return from the honeymoon. If you booked your Sunday plane tickets for“John Jones” and “Sally Smith” and John and Sally were just married Saturday, then Sally’s photo ID, and/or passport need to match her plane ticket, or TSA will NOT let her board the plane. Also, Sally’s credit cards and checks need to match her official ID. So Sally Smith may be Mrs. John Jones, but she’s not Sally Jones until she takes the authorized wedding license and has each document (see #19) changed.
The partial list of documents to be changed, if you decide to do so, is seen above in FAQ
23. Am I supposed to invite the Wedding Officiant to our wedding reception?
Traditionally the answer is “yes,” but don’t feel you have to. The bridal couple often invites the officiant because the officiant is often the pastor of one or both of the bridal couple. But what if the wedding minister/officiant is a Vendor you chose from the website or was recommended from your site venue?
Whether he/she is a wedding minister or civil officiant, you want to invite them during the planning the wedding, and be sure to get an answer. After all, you DO need to get your numbers to the caterer. If you invite the wedding officiant after the wedding while the pictures
are being taken, most officiants and ministers will politely decline because they have made other plans. It is not a snub at that point, just that they were unsure of your plans to include
them (or not) so most go ahead and make other plans for the rest of the day or evening. So, if you want your wedding officiant/minister to come to your reception and you have a place for
them, then invite them by RSVP invitation and confirm when you meet them for the last before the rehearsal. If you send an invitation, then you send to the officiant’s name and “Guest.” This could be their spouse, life partner, or a friend. But they should respond accordingly and if they are bringing a guest, then they give you the guest’s name for the name cards on the table.
Many couples deal with this by designating a “Vendors Table” where all the vendors can sit: the DJ, photographer, officiant, assistants, and so forth. And all the vendors have one thing in common: they were hired for the day for their services
If you don’t want to invite your Officiant to your reception, then don’t. Bishop David has never
met an officiant or minister who has taken offense at not being asked. Most wedding ministers and officiants don’t need to be a part of your whole day, because their important duties end
with the ceremony and certificate and they don’t need a free meal. But make sure they know
they ARE or ARE NOT invited, as they will make their schedules accordingly.
One note about the Rehearsal Dinner: feel free to invite the officiant to the rehearsal dinner after the rehearsal, but most ministers/officiants don’t accept unless they are invited earlier and it is held at a restaurant. The exception to this is if the wedding minister/officiant is your pastor, then they have a previous relationship with you. Most officiants you “hire” for a wedding don’t know family other than yourselves, and so if the Rehearsal Dinner is held at your aunt’s home or the bride’s parents house most officiants will decline because it is a family time and…. they are not family. Other than you "the bridal couple," they have nothing in common with your gathered family.
(What does Bishop David do? While appreciating the flush of good will, Bishop David usually accepts invitations to the reception if he is given advance notice, and usually declines if he is invited at the rehearsal or the day of the wedding. Bishop David usually declines rehearsal dinner invitations for the reasons discussed above.)
24. Do you do interfaith weddings?
Yes, I have done many interfaith weddings. These are different from two Christians (Catholic
& Catholic, Catholic & Christian, or Christian & Christian) getting married, or even a
Christian/Catholic and non-religious person getting married. An interfaith wedding is usually a
Jewish-Christian/Catholic, Muslim-Christian/Catholic, or Native American-Christian/Catholic. I
have officiated at all the above ceremonies over time. The successful ceremony is one where
both traditions and values are celebrated through inclusion of traditions from both parties.
Both families need to feel that their faith was respected and honored by the couple, and the
officiant. By way of example, in a Jewish-Christian wedding ceremony there might the 7
Jewish Wedding Blessings (in Hebrew), with the broken glass and Mozel Tov at the end of the
ceremony, all under a chuppah. Fr. Dave meets with the couples as often as necessary to
develop a ceremony where both parties are happy with it. Each couple is unique and each
chooses what traditions are important to them. Fr. Dave will include each tradition the couple
25. Have you ever done a destination wedding?
Yes, I have done destination weddings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Usually it works this way: I am contacted either by the couple themselves or their wedding planner here in New Mexico, and we work long distance via telephone and email to work up the wedding ceremony until the bride and groom to be are happy with their ceremony. I work up the ceremony the same way I work with a couple in front of me: I ask what they are looking for in their ceremony, what they want, if they have been to weddings what have they seen that they like and want now in their own ceremony, are they looking for a religious/spiritual/humanist ceremony, and so forth. If the couple is able to make a visit to New Mexico before their wedding day I schedule a time to get together with them and review the ceremony, make any final edits per their requests, and then arrange to be at the wedding site an hour before the wedding so make sure everything is in place. If there is a wedding planner I always work closely with them. I always offer to take the completed Wedding License/Certificate and get it to the County Clerk for the out-of-state couple for their convenience. The County Clerk then mails the registered Wedding Certificate to the couple at their address.