QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR MINISTER/OFFICIANT
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Is the ‘vendor’ I’m talking to truly experienced and trustworthy? A true wedding professional?
Many advertise, and the cheaper the fee the more you should investigate. Confirm references, license or other vendor-specific information. Many list no real contact information, nor are they a true business registered and recognized by the State of Michigan. No city – no address? Run! True wedding pros have offices or store-fronts, websites, and/or verifiable and online references that are part of a national service. Sadly, many ‘organizations’ and ‘awards’ are paid-for just for being an advertiser. This is why I use ‘WeddingWire’, as the reviews are written by couples just like you. The awards come from being a quality vendor, and not a badge to paste to your website because you spent a thousand dollars in advertising. Be cautious and do your homework. The website “WeddingWire” is the only one we use, as it is the most trust-worthy for couples research of past couple reviews. Check out my reviews here: http://www.weddingwire.com/reviews/midmichigan-weddings-frankenmuth-mackinac-island/e8ce0f7a7827c8e5.html
I kept track and had over 60 calls in 2014 from couples, in grave desperation and some in tears – stating “my officiant just quit/can’t find-disappeared/had an emergency” within 2 weeks of their date. If they were
lucky, they found out earlier. Many said they sought the cheapest fee or thought “aren’t you all just the same”. Now that cheap fee or non-professional is going to hurt more than your wallet. And finding a replacement? Anyone of quality is likely going to be booked less than 6 months in advance and finding someone for your date could be a real issue. I feel bad for them, but generally no way to help!
My favorite of the quoted excuses is how someone knows they are having a “family emergency”…..2-weeks in advance. Things can happen, but shy of a crystal ball how do you you’re your son is going to fall out of his tree-house and break his arm? Hiring a real wedding pro will avoid all but the true emergencies and severe disappointment!
Ask – “Do you carry business/wedding specific ‘liability insurance’?”
Couples, did you realize that if your vendor breaks, causes damage, sets fire or some other accident at your wedding and venue, that you are responsible for that cost? If you hire a true wedding pro – they have this insurance. If who you are considering doesn’t have this insurance, you are taking a big chance of liability! And you are likely dealing with someone who is not a real pro.
Is your Minister/DJ/Photographer/Other registered with the State of Michigan, as a legal business?
Are you working with someone recognized by the ‘State of Michigan’, who pays taxes and a true business…or are they just a “hobbyist” – an “amateur”, or some shady ‘fly-by-night’ who does not provide these services at all, or full-time? In a legal, business-like and tax-paying operation they are not hiding out. Their website should have full disclosure and information about who and where they are at. If not and you have a problem, how do you find them? If they are not a state-registered business, you should run…..not walk away!
Part B – Legal businesses
Are they a member or their local ‘Chamber of Commerce’ or another professional organization? Registered with the “BBB”? Have you confirmed this? Most local chambers are well-aware of the quality businesses in their community!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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What do you sound and look like?
Well, if you made it to the home page of my website, you already know about what I look like. And voice – everyone used to say that I missed my calling by not being a radio announcer (does that mean I have a face for radio too?). My voice carries very well – some weddings are performed without audio or microphone assistance. As to tone – I get many compliments after a ceremony is completed that they loved the ceremony, my voice – and the presentation of both.
Can we meet with you before we decide?
I would love to! I offer face-to-face meetings for my standard and personalized wedding packages. This can occur at a coffee shop or other location. I also offer ‘Skype’ for couples who live out-of-state, short on travel-time, or just prefer the internet! Now, if you are planning a simple vow renewal or civil ceremony and want a personal consultation, I am available for a small fee. But this is your call. Some couples would rather handle everything by phone/Skype or e-mail, while others would rather meet in person. If you live out of town, I generally do make all arrangements via the internet and telephone. There are many great tools now that were not available 10 or more years ago. And planning your wedding from 1000 miles away carries the same support as meeting face-to-face!
As to the meetings, I generally pick one of several coffee shops that are close by. I always bring lots of information with me, and we can grab a table and I can discuss all your wedding plans with you. And this would be your chance to see if I’m the ‘perfect fit’ – the right look, voice, and personality for your very special day.
What kind of ceremonies do you perform?
I am both a minister and an officiant. I was raised and educated within the Lutheran Church (see my personal page on the “Meet Rev. Brian” tab). But many years ago my faith and practice carried me more towards Catholicism, and in 2007 I converted. I can help you with your Catholic-faith based ceremony, Lutheran, or other denominations. But I also practice as a non-denominational Christian minister and also as a non-religious/Secular wedding officiant. The wedding ceremony, the theme and content should be completely the couple’s choice. I will help you to have exactly the ceremony you desire – and more important, I want to do this! I do not inflict on couples my beliefs or denomination. I support and cherish working with couples on completely non-religious and spiritual weddings. I will work either as a minister or officiant for your wedding. No couple is required or expected to have a religious ceremony. Many of the ceremonies I perform are either Catholic – or non-denominational, faith-based religious or spiritual based ceremonies, with traditional vows. I am well-known for my quality work, and am highly awarded for my custom work write and perform more than 80% of these types of ceremonies. But even if you choose something personalized or your event is a simple/basic or elopement event – I am delighted to write or perform any kind of ceremony you prefer!
I want to write my own vows – can I?
Many couples prefer to. At minimum, I hope you will choose your own vows from samples I have available too. Choosing your own vows are available for all ceremony packages.
Some officiants/ministers will encourage you not to depart from ‘traditional vows’. Or only choices they provide. They state that the emotional turmoil, ease of repeating, length, and “flow’ of the ceremony are interrupted by custom vows. Hogwash!
You love each other – this is your day. If nothing else you make your ceremony personal and unique just by choosing your own vows. Also, if you are shy about saying them or become emotional during the ceremony – I can help you prepare simple responses to detailed vows, or help if you get stuck when saying them. It happens at times and is never a problem.
Can I customize my ceremony or provide you with the ceremony we want to use?
Of course! This is your day, and I want to perform your ceremony your way! You can most certainly do this. You may already have a ceremony you like and want to use. It can be updated to personalize for your own use. We can also add and/or delete anything from a ceremony you provide – or I provide for you. If you have a ceremony or reading you would like for me to review, please contact me with any questions. If you are seeking help only in having me take your own ceremony and make it ‘performance ready’ for someone else to perform, I can help with that too!
How long will the ceremony last?
The average ceremony is about 15-30 minutes in length. Ceremony length is dependent on ceremony choices, special services and readings, and size and structure of the wedding party. A large number of bridesmaids and groomsmen can take 5-10 minutes to enter and exit the service. But please, do not worry about the number of minutes. A bad 5-minute ceremony is at least 5 minutes too long. But a wonderful ceremony performed well, is always just the right length!
Ultimately, the decision is yours to make.
But a couple things to consider are:
Outdoor ceremonies – temperature can be a factor – comfort of your guests, who generally are seated outside well before the ceremony starts. Also, time of day, placement of the sun in the sky, and location specific items can be factors. If you are planning a June-August date, keep in mind that your guests will be in the sun at least an hour between arrival, seating, ceremony, and departure.
Bride and Groom, Bridal party – something about the excitement and adrenalin that surge during a wedding can make 5 minutes seem like 15. Knee lock, nervous tummy’s, dehydration – all can take a toll during a really long ceremony. Most couples find that they can have everything they want in a ceremony that lasts 30 minutes or less.
Are you flexible about the order or flow of our ceremony?
My belief is that the ceremony belongs to you, and should reflect what you want as a couple.
We are divorced. Will you still marry us?
Absolutely! I am asked this question quite frequently. My beliefs are to help any couple seeking the commitment of marriage. You love each other, and the past is the past. I have no religious beliefs that allow me to discriminate – to judge, and be against anyone who wants to get married – divorced or not. I welcome you at this new juncture of your life!
Do you require counseling before marriage?
No, I do not require counseling. If you are seeking counseling prior to marriage, I would be happy to help. Marriage prep classes can be fun and beneficial, and I love teaching them! I can do them locally, and also offer for long-distance couples as well. Ask about this service at our meeting!
Will you marry people of different religions, faiths, or beliefs?
I marry people of all beliefs, faiths, or religions. And even those with no particular faith or belief set. I perform many multi-cultural and interfaith weddings. The most common request I receive is Jewish/Catholic weddings. I also look pretty good in a kilt too and have a Scottish/English heritage.
What will you wear? What kind of clothing/attire or pulpit robe will you use?
It varies with each couples needs and desires! In religious weddings, I have available an optional white – or all-black pulpit robe. I do ask that if religious garments are requested that the ceremony be somewhat religious in content. I also use a black, dark blue and grey suits. If you have a particular need, please ask during your meeting!
I also do many theme weddings – Hawaiian and beach attire are my favorite. Just a shirt and tie – sure! Renaissance time period – you bet. Costume (within reason), western wear (country), or any type of theme wear – no problem!
Shy? Nervous? Stage Fright? We cater to you!
If you are terrified of having to read or memorize part of the service, speak your vows; anything – please relax! I am happy to read any part of the service. If it requires your input, all you have to say is “I do”. Rehearsals will also relieve most of the anxiety of having to stand in front of friends and family. Please discuss with me if there is anything I can do to make the ceremony work better for you.
When is your fee paid?
Each wedding and timing and type of event can affect this answer. Most weddings require a ‘retainer fee’, and that is paid at the time you submit your reservation form. Only for the most basic events, all fees are paid before the final ceremony date (see your contract for payment dates). Another great question to ask when we discuss all the details for your event!
Do you attend the rehearsal?
Not only do I attend, I do require one if your wedding is of any size or complexity. Many couples have been part of other wedding events and that experience helps! But this is your event – your day, and we should be making sure all the details are practiced and perfect. And having a real wedding professional direct your rehearsal (me!), is one way to relieve the stress and anxiety that can come with standing in front of 10’s – if not 100’s of your friends and family. It’s just the right thing to do!
Much more detail about rehearsals is available, and just like your unique event – we should discuss your needs!
Some very basic and small events would not require this, but I offer other help for prep of your day in these cases. And if you do not need one, it will of course make the fee for your ‘personalized’ or ‘custom’ event less.
Also, if you have a wedding coordinator – they many times will assist with the rehearsal. I will gladly participate and work with your wedding coordinator, as this should be a joint effort.
Do you stay for the reception?
When will you arrive at my wedding? What will you do when you arrive?
For almost all events, I arrive 1 hour prior to your ceremony. This allows proper time to check with the venue, photographer, DJ/musicians, and other wedding vendors that are part of your ceremony. And also, to help with anything the bride and groom – as well as the best man/maid of honor might need.
I will also check with the wedding coordinator and facility planner (if applicable), and make sure everything is ready for the ceremony.
Do you stay for pictures?
That is your choice. Most couples or the photographer ask that I stay for a picture with the bride and groom. I am happy to do so. Sometimes I may have time constraints but if I know in advance we can plan for this. If you would like a picture(s) with me, just let me know and I will be glad to accommodate.
GETTING MARRIED IN MICHIGAN
THE MARRIAGE LICENSE
Here’s what you need to know to make marriage legal in Michigan.
In order to get married, you need to apply for and receive a marriage license. The rules for acquiring your marriage license vary from state to state, so you should check with your County Clerk’s office to find out what your local rules are.
You’ll need a certified copy of your birth certificates and other official documents. Generally a state/federal-issued photo ID. You don’t, however, want to apply for your marriage license too early. In some states, the licenses do expire, and Michigan is one of those. Michigan marriage license is valid for 30 days, after the 3-day waiting period. Please check with the county clerk for requirements in the county in which you need to apply.
BELOW YOU WILL FIND SOME SPECIFIC MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS FOR MICHIGAN.
License information: Information for the license may require both bride and groom’s full names (including middle), parent’s full names, and places of birth for all. Many counties offer online applications. However, you will need to provide your proofs/ID requirements when you go to pick up at the courthouse. Remember, the license is only good for 33 days, and that time starts the day you apply!
ID Requirement: Picture ID such as a driver’s license. You should know your Social Security numbers.
Residency Requirement: You do not have to be a resident of Michigan, but the fee is $10 more for non-residents. Residents need to apply for their marriage license in the county in which one of them lives. Non-residents need to apply for their marriage license in the county where they plan on getting married. Please confirm with your venue which county, as well as city and/or township in which the venue you are using resides.
Waiting Period: 3 days. The county clerk can waive the 3-day waiting period for “good and sufficient cause shown.”
Fees: $20 for residents, and $30 for non-residents. $15.00 of it is allocated for family counseling services. Wayne County is authorized to charge more. A probate court may waive the marriage license fee in cases of undue hardship.
Application Requirement: Applicants intending to marry must obtain a marriage license from the county clerk in the county in which one of the parties lives (or, if both parties are non-residents, in the county where the marriage is to be performed), and deliver it to the person who is to solemnize the marriage before the marriage can be performed. Both applicants are not required to appear in person at the time of applying. However, he or she will be required to complete all information about both applicants:
- A photocopy of the front and back of the other person’s driver’s license
- Full names
- Addresses, dates, and places of birth
- Bride’s name after marriage
Identification requirements vary in each county. A valid driver’s license or certified copy of your birth certificate may be requested.
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Please ‘Google’ – many counties have websites and offer Online marriage license applications
Alcona County Clerk Harrisville, MI 989.724.6807
Alger County Clerk Munising, MI 906.387.2076
Allegan County Clerk Allegan, MI 616.673.0450
Alpena County Clerk Alpena, MI 517.356.0115
Antrim County Clerk Bellaire, MI 231.533.6353
Arenac County Clerk Standish, MI 989.846.4626
Baraga County Clerk L’Anse, MI 906.524.6183
Barry County Clerk Hastings, MI 616.945.1285
Bay County Clerk Bay City, MI 989.895.4280
Benzie County Clerk Beulah, MI 231.882.9671
Berrien County Clerk St. Joseph, MI 616.983.7111
Branch County Clerk Coldwater, MI 517.279.4306
Calhoun County Clerk Marshall, MI 616.781.0730
Cass County Clerk Cassopolis, MI 616.445.8621
Charlevoix County Clerk Charlevoix, MI 231.547.7200
Cheboygan County Clerk Cheboygan, MI231.627.8808
Chippewa County Clerk Sault Ste. Marie, MI 906.635.6300
Clare County Clerk Harrison, MI 989.539.7131
Clinton County Clerk St. Johns, MI
Crawford County Clerk Grayling, MI 989.344.3200
Delta County Clerk Escanaba, MI 906.789.5105
Dickinson County Clerk Iron Mountain, MI 906.774.0988
Durham Town Clerk Durham, CT 860.349.3452
Eaton County Clerk Charlotte, MI 517.543.7500
Emmet County Clerk Petoskey, MI 231.348.1744
Genesee County Clerk Flint, MI
Gladwin County Clerk Gladwin, MI 517.426.7351
Gogebic County Clerk Bessemer, MI 906.663.4518
Grand Traverse County Clerk Traverse City, MI 231.922.4760
Gratiot County Clerk Ithaca, MI 517.875.5215
Hillsdale County Clerk Hillsdale, MI 517.437.3391
Houghton County Clerk Houghton, MI 906.482.1150
Huron County Clerk Bad Axe, MI 989.269.9942
Ingham County Clerk Mason, MI 517.676.7201
Ionia County Clerk Ionia, MI 616.527.5322
Iosco County Clerk Tawas City, MI 989.362.3497
Isabella County Clerk Mt. Pleasant, MI 517.772.0911
Jackson County Clerk Jackson, MI 517.788.4265
Kalamazoo County Clerk Kalamazoo, MI 616.383.8840
Kalkaska County Clerk Kalkaska, MI 231.258.3300
Kent County Clerk Grand Rapids, MI 616.336.3550
Keweenaw County Clerk Eagle River, MI 906.337.2229
Lake County Clerk Baldwin, MI 231.745.4641
Lapeer County Clerk Lapeer, MI 810.667.0356
Leelanau County Clerk Suttons Bay, MI 231.256.9824
Lenawee County Clerk Adrian, MI 517.264.4606
Livingston County Clerk Howell, MI 517.546.0500
Luce County Clerk Newberry, MI 906.293.5521
Mackinac County Clerk St. Ignace, MI 906.643.7300
Macomb County Clerk Mt. Clemens, MI 586.469.5120
Manistee County Clerk Manistee, MI 231.723.3331
Marquette County Clerk Marquette, MI 906.225.8330
Mason County Clerk Ludington, MI 231.843.8202
Mecosta County Clerk Big Rapids, MI 231.592.0783
Menominee County Clerk Menominee, MI 906.863.9968
Midland County Clerk Midland, MI 517.832.6739
Missaukee County Clerk Lake City, MI 231.839.4967
Monroe County Clerk Monroe, MI 734.240.7020
Montcalm County Clerk Stanton, MI 989.831.7339
Montmorency County Clerk Atlanta, MI 517.785.8022
Muskegon County Clerk Muskegon, MI 231.724.6221
Newaygo County Clerk White Cloud, MI 231.689.7235
Oakland County Clerk Pontiac, MI 248.858.0572
Oceana County Clerk Hart, MI 231.873.4328
Ogemaw County Clerk West Branch, MI 517.345.0215
Ontonagon County Clerk Ontonagon, MI 906.884.4255
Osceola County Clerk Reed City, MI 231.832.6104
Oscoda County Clerk Mio, MI 989.826.1110
Otsego County Clerk Gaylord, MI 517.732.6484
Ottawa County Clerk Grand Haven, MI 616.846.8310
Presque Isle County Clerk Rogers City, MI 800.334.569
Roscommon County Clerk Roscommon, MI 989.275.5923
Saginaw County Clerk Saginaw, MI 989.790.5251
St. Clair County Clerk Port Huron, MI 810.985.2200
St. Joseph County Clerk Centreville, MI 616.467.5602
Sanilac County Clerk Sandusky, MI 810.648.3212
Schoolcraft County Clerk Manistique, MI 906.341.3618
Shiawassee County Clerk Corunna, MI 517.743.2242
Tuscola County Clerk Caro, MI 517.672.3780
Van Buren County Clerk Paw Paw, MI 616.657.8218
Washtenaw County Clerk Ann Arbor, MI 734.994.2501
Wayne County Clerk Detroit, MI 313.224.6262
Wexford County Clerk Cadillac, MI 231.779.9450
Please check with your local county clerk for their requirements and those controlled by Michigan law. This list is provided only as a guideline and may vary from county-to-county, or by change in Michigan law.