Preparing for a long Sunday at WorthamWorld, I reviewed an updated Officiant Request through Gig Salad.
I sometimes wonder if people asking me to do something put more thought into what they are asking but, rather than guessing the answer, decided to reread the request prior to responding. My first scan of this email was correct however and Melissa (most likely) believed that what she was asking was okay although it wasn’t.
Laymen don’t understand the requirements of performing a Marriage Ceremony because that’s the Officiants job.
The problem? Melissa wanted me to sign her marriage license without performing the ceremony. This type of request constitutes Fraud.
Only an actual Officiant, Minister, Rabbi or Judge can Officiate a wedding. Melissa’s “friend” can’t stand in and Officiate a ceremony because he isn’t licensed to do so.
While explaining to Melissa why I won’t sign a Marriage License for a ceremony that I haven’t performed, I decided to explain to her what she was actually asking me to do without understanding what she was asking.
Anyone Officiating a wedding signs the Marriage License. They aren’t signing the License because they haven’t performed a ceremony. This should be self explanatory but, perhaps to a few people it isn’t. If it were, I don’t believe so many people would contact me with “we just need you to sign the license. We don’t want a ceremony” types of requests.
You can’t have a wedding ceremony without the ceremony. No one authorized to sign a Marriage License (if they know what they are doing) will “just sign the License” without performing the Ceremony. The License is an Affidavit that a Ceremony was performed.
If you don’t want a wedding ceremony, you aren’t seeking a legal wedding. There isn’t any “skipping” in the process of conducting a ceremony first and secondly, signing the License. The third step is of course to file the License.
Weddings are celebrations but, they are also a Legal Procedure of commitment. The burden of legalizing the wedding falls squarely on the Officiant.
Coordinating an event means handling any issues and directing the vendors, scheduling meetings and so forth but, the License itself is the sole responsibility of the Officiant. Whether I’m Officiating, Coordinating or both, that License is of great importance.
Once signed, it’s taken immediately to my briefcase along with any other Licenses and filed on Monday, Wednesday or Friday every week in person or via certified priority mail in counties outside Tarrant or Dallas.
I’ve never lost a License in my life because I’m organized and know what a sheer disaster losing a License would be. If you are Officiating a wedding and don’t understand the Requirements of your service, you should.
At least once a week, someone contacts me to ask questions regarding Officiating a wedding. I’m surprised at the number of people who have no real idea of what they are doing and much less what’s expected of them. Seriously. Would you have your baker diagnose an illness?
Don’t have “your friend” Officiate your wedding and call me for insight “because you’ve been doing it for years and you’re so good at it.” Telling someone else to call me because I’m either good at it or experienced and know what I’m doing isn’t my idea of fun.
I’m busy with a booked schedule and last Memorial Day, I answered a call from a venue owner who decided to start Officiating and had no idea what to do while I was trying to spend a rare day off with my family.
An hour later, with my family impatiently waiting for me to get off the phone, the venue owner still couldn’t understand why she had to file the License.
Why everyone assumes that “winging it” is okay I have no idea. But, after her phone call, I decided to start charging people who disrupt my day to give them advice or insight.
I’m willing teach others how to Officiate a wedding at my own convenience and for a fee from this point forward. My time is valuable to not only my clients but also, my family.
I’m on location seven days a week working my own Events and I don’t have thirty minutes to an hour to tell someone else how to do their job simply because they’ve asked me to.
Dropping everything I’m doing to educate someone else in the middle of addressing my own agenda is not normally the way I handle a consultation. Especially at someone else’s convenience.
My Clients and their needs are my priority which is why they hired me. Phone calls and emails seeking advice on Officiating a wedding are at the bottom of my list during a jam packed weekend of running here, there and everywhere while fielding phone calls from my Team who are often at other events.
A few years ago, I was coordinating a large event and handling all of the flowers and arrangements for two locations.
The Bride had been asked by a “friend” if he could Officiate. After asking if he had ever performed a wedding, I learned that he hadn’t and knew the “friend” would be heavily relying on my insight and, I was right.
Perhaps because I’ve seen everything go wrong when a “friend” thinks it’s easy to address a large group of people, teaching someone else how to perform a ceremony and giving them tips while trying to find the missing bouteniers or tape for the brides dress is (and I’m being kind here) the last thing I want to address.
After all, I was hired to coordinate not educate. It would’ve been far easier to simply Officiate that wedding myself to be honest with you.
Because the other Officiant had no idea how to conduct a Rehearsal, I did the Rehearsal for him while he sat and watched. Frankly, I had no idea that he was among the other guests sitting in the pews since he didn’t bother introducing himself until after the Rehearsal.
On the day of the wedding, I was constantly running back and forth to show the other Officiant where this went or what you do with that when I should have been with the Bride getting ready.
Due to the constant interruptions of preparing for the wedding and trying to “coach” the “friend” on the Cross Ceremony, I was losing patience with over an hour spent trying to help prepare the “friend” to Officiate while being slammed over with my own responsibilities and the actual details on wedding day that either I or my staff have actually been hired for.
Performing the actual Ceremony and Rehearsal if you’ve been hired for both, Requires that you know what you are doing.
Signing a Marriage License after the Wedding Ceremony and filing the instrument are what make a Marriage LEGAL.
I’m including the message from Melissa to better define what exactly she was asking. I declined to involve myself in Melissa’s idea to honor her family friend by having him Officiate and someone else (namely, me) sign the Marriage License.
I carefully explained why what she was asking was illegal and constituted Fraud. If you have officiated the actual Wedding Ceremony, you cannot sign a License attesting to doing so.
A few years ago, I was asked to Officiate a Vow Renewal. This type of ceremony doesn’t involve a License or filing of the document. It’s a simple ceremony to renew marriage vows and often a party of sorts for couples who “ran off to the Justice of the Peace” for their ceremony or were unhappy with their original ceremony and want a “do over.”
It’s not unusual for many to want a Vow Renewal and they occur frequently for many people who couldn’t afford a “big to do” for the original wedding ceremony. Many couples also plan Vow Renewals for their anniversaries.
The remarkable differences between a Vow Renewal and an actual Marriage Ceremony are the Legal Elements of a Marriage. My signature or anyone’s signature on my Team when performing a Marriage Ceremony, strictly adhere to the laws attributed with Marriage. The Date, The Time, The County and the Officiants name and address are ALL included on the Marriage License.
The Vow Renewal Request sounded simple. Show up Officiate the rehearsal and wedding ceremony and leave.
Based on the details, I submitted a low bid for my time at a Rehearsal and the Ceremony itself.
Estimating a half hour to forty five minutes for the Rehearsal and the same amount of time for the wedding, if I had any idea of how “low balling” would get me by the time the wedding rolled around, I would’ve passed on that event entirely.
But, experience is a great teacher. For the demanding clients who often forget I’m juggling at least fifteen other clients a month, I’ve since learned to “cut em loose” if they call several times a day and email too.
I don’t have time for 2-5 phone calls a day or to hold someone’s hand because I’m Officiating their wedding. These types of time consuming efforts are reserved for clients who have hired me to coordinate.
The differences between Coordinating or Officiating are so remarkable that I’m going to lay it out. Officiating? 1-2 hours. Coordinating? Months. I can easily (and do) Officiate 30-50 weddings in the time I would spend Coordinating one wedding. Because of this, I only take on a coordinating gig by referral.
Had I known that this simple Vow Renewal request would turn into a circus of doing everything for no compensation, I would’ve never committed myself in the first place. But… because I had a Team, the Bride expected that by hiring me to Officiate, her bonus was my entire family accommodating her every desire.
I wish I was making this up but, my dedicated readers realize that I’m honest and don’t sugar coat the facts, the people or the Diva’s.
I’ve had a few Diva’s over the years and in my opinion, a few was too many. You can’t pay me enough to put up with a Demamding Diva. I’m out altogether on bending over backwards and wishing it was over. Diva’s suck the life right out of not only me but also my entire Team.
Weeks and months later, the Bride continued to add-on numerous other services. This Bridezilla had asked for an apple but, expected a pie.
How on earth we went from a 1-2 hour Vow Renewal and Rehearsal agreement to 8 hours on site gives you a far better description of what went wrong and why I now require a contract. Sometimes, too much is never enough whether the person asking (or demanding) realizes it or not. Cut em loose.
From two photographers to floral designs and even up to eight hours on location with a team of four people to accommodate the Demanding Diva’s continued outrageous and unpaid additional requests, I began requiring contracts with Texas Twins Events Clients, Texas Prison Wedding Clients and even Pawning Planners Clients. No contract? No services. I’m serious.
Why? To clearly define what services we were providing and what was expected of the client. Changes after signing the contract with additions that include another photographer, security, more time on location etc. require a new contract.
I won’t work without a contract and neither will anyone else on my Team. Why? Outrageous and continued requests simply because we have a Team.
My “Team” doesn’t consist of volunteers. Everyone on my Team has a role. If you want additional staff or services, you will pay for them and not have 5-10 additional staff members on site simply because they work with me.
My Team don’t go everywhere with me because they are handling other bookings. No one brings three suvs and staff to Officiate a wedding, baptism or religious service or ceremony and, I don’t either.
If I’m coordinating and you’ve hired my Team for additional services, the Calvary is coming because they were compensated for their efforts.
If you hire an Officiant, you get one. If you hire a photographer, you get one. You don’t get two photographers or everything you want but, don’t want to pay for. That’s not how this works for us or anyone else either.
Cindy quickly sums up these types of situations with her iconic Redneck Reality Quotes…“JUST because you HAVE the GROCERIES, don’t EXPECT your NEIGHBOR to COOK the meal.” Or, “NOT my LUGGAGE, and IT ain’t my TRIP!”
Solving other people’s problems can be a thankless task. Signing a License without performing the actual ceremony is a crime. Marriage Fraud is a Felony.The glamour of a wedding often overshadows the Legal Aspects of why there is a Wedding in the first place. Hiring the “right” Officiant is an important element of your Planning Process.
Hiring the “wrong” Officiant who fails to understand what’s actually required of them is a mistake that couples continue to make because they are “shopping for the cheapest Officiant or, asking a friend to perform the ceremony who has no idea of the responsibility involved.”Don’t let the Glitz and Glamour of a wedding blind you. Without a Qualified Officiant, you just had a big party but, you may not have had a Legal Wedding if your Officiant loses the License, forgets to file the License, isn’t qualified to perform the ceremony or even, makes a mistake when signing the License that may require that the Officiant file an Amended Petition.
If the Officiant doesn’t know what an Amended Petition is– you have a bigger problem than you realize!
Why? If there is a mistake on the License, the Officiant is responsible for resolving the issue. I’m not in the “favor business.” No one is. The flowers, the wedding dresses and all of the extras are actually “fluff.”
If you need me to educate you on performing a Marriage Ceremony, I’m more than qualified but, I’m not a volunteer.
You aren’t having a wedding to impress your friends, you are getting married to be recognized as legally married. Be sure you are hiring someone capable of performing the task from start to finish.
A few days ago, I wrote a blog regarding an interesting trade through The Pawning Planners. Yes, you can Barter any Event Service offered through Texas Twins Events including TDCJ Texas Prison Weddings.
Appraisal Appointments are scheduled Monday-Friday “in season.” These meetings are to evaluate and appraise your trade.
Due to my schedule of Prison Weddings that also occur Monday-Friday and existing bookings during wedding season, Cindy and I cannot schedule Appraisal Appointments on weekends in season.
The Parker County Client wanting to barter a Canoe, Canes and a Corkscrew Collection had heard about me and wanted someone “knowledgeable and experienced” to handle his daughters wedding.
There’s a back story (as usual). The father had married in Mexico years ago and didn’t realize he wasn’t legally married for a number of years and later ran to the JP to legalize his expensive holiday wedding that was beautiful but, not legal.
Because of his own experience, he was careful about finding someone capable of handling his daughters wedding with none of the surprises he and his wife had encountered on their Destination Wedding. My reputation is stellar because I don’t overlook any detail when Officiating a wedding and in fact, I’m so OCD about filing licenses in other counties that I don’t simply mail the License and “hope it will get to the clerks office.”
I mail certified priority mail to other states and counties to ensure a Marriage License is never lost in the mail. If you missed the blog, here’s the link– A Canoe, A Corkscrew Collection And Antique Canes? The Pawning Planners On Location.
Marriage is a Legal Process. Ask anyone struggling through a divorce and you will quickly learn that the “wedding part” was easy compared to the “divorce.”
Finding out that you weren’t actually married is shocking but, you’d be surprised to learn that I’m contacted at least five times a year by people who “thought they were married.” The reasons they weren’t are almost always because they “had a friend do their wedding.” Occasionally, it’s a Destination Wedding that wasn’t legal but almost always, I’m hired to Officiate a new wedding to cover the wedding that wasn’t legal in the first place. Don’t hire a friend! You will thank me later for giving you this tip trust me.
Officiating a Wedding whether I’m in a Prison, Plane, Parking Lot or Park, isn’t taken lightly by me or anyone else on my Team. Our responsibilities don’t end after the Wedding Ceremony.
Filing your License is the responsibility of your Officiant and what actually completes your Legal Marriage Ceremony.
Asking me to sign a License for a ceremony that I haven’t conducted isn’t a good idea either…I follow the Letter Of The Law when Officiating a Wedding as do all Officiants on my Texas Twins Events Team.