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So lately, people ask me, “How is the wedding planning going?” and I always reply, “Oh really good, we got all the big stuff done.” Except, then I have this little panic attack, and start to hyperventilate a little because I realize we DO NOT have everything BIG done. We have this teensy little issue of um…not having anyone to marry us. Ya know, minor detail right?

Here's the scoop, I grew up in a family that was very involved in the Presbyterian Church. I'm sure my minister would marry us, however, since we are getting married 3 hours away from my church, logistically it's not so swell. Getting to our church for counseling sessions and such would just be nearly impossible. Plus, I do not want my minister and his wife to feel obligated to make a three hour trip and probably stay over night if it is not feasible for them. The other minister that I grew up with in my church is rather old and not in the best of health, so I know its pretty much impossible for him to come even as a guest, let alone as an officiant.

And now you're thinking, what about that future husband of yours? Yes, well, Ryan grew up in the Catholic church and is not very involved with his church. Add to it that we will not be getting married in a church (of any denomination because our wedding is all at one “event space”), and it sort of unnerves me to go through any sort of counseling with a priest when I am not going to be worshiping in his church in the future. (*Disclaimer: I mean no offense to anyone, I'm just stating OUR situation!). We also have not found a church to join where we live now, and I also kind of don't want to get attached to one church when we are probably not going to live here after the wedding.

And then everyone says, “OH Just have someone you're friends with get ordained!” OH YES wonderful idea, unless you live in OHIO. Ohio apparently really cares about the people bringing together marriages because you are required to either be ordained by a legit church, be the mayor of the city where the wedding takes place, or be a judge or the probate judge of the county where the wedding takes place.

We do not know anyone else that is ordained. We know nothing of the mayor of the city where we are getting married, nor whether he would even consider doing it. I'm a lawyer, which has potential to cause conflicts with most judges. I wanted to write one of the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court to see if they would consider it, because I saw in one of the Ohio bridal magazines that one of the Justices had officiated at a wedding. However, I abandoned the idea because I have an appearance filed in a case currently under review by the Ohio Supreme Court. I could call the ethics hotline I guess and figure out if its really an issue, but we often file support briefs in Supreme Court cases and since there are only three lawyers in my office, I have to be able to sign onto them.

Then we got this option of a county judge. But, the same issue arises should I ever need to make an appearance in his courtroom. Would he have to recuse? Would I have to be cordoned off the case because this man for one day, let me repeat after him with some really important words? Maybe I am being overly cautious about all of this because I am a new attorney, but I do not want to take any chances people!! I'd rather just avoid the whole issue.

I also heard that a dean at my former law school is ordained, and Ryan is pushing for me to ask him. I had a good relationship with this administrator – I did not work with him a lot but I met with him on several occasions for different things and seemed to have a good rapport with him. I guess its a possibility still but it just seems STRANGE to me. Like, “Hey, so ya, I was a student and… I hear your a minister.. and I'm in this pickle of needing a minister so…how bout it?” I KNOW the worst thing he could do would be to say no, but it still just seems a little strange to me!!

We could hire an officiant too, but the ones I have seen around Columbus cost like $200 and I just don't feel very comfortable with that for some reason….. maybe I'm just cheap though?

Last, we have an option of going to the Justice of the Peace (JOP) the day before or something and having a short and quick civil ceremony, with someone that is not ordained but whom we know and love, reading the ceremony the next day at our actual wedding. We've thought about this for awhile. Two of my bridesmaids have fathers that are elders in my church and one was my Sunday School teacher for years. I really feel they would do a wonderful job and they are like second fathers to me, so it would be very meaningful.

BUT I also have this fear that by going the JOP route, I would feel like it was just all..anti-climatic.

One part of me says, that for me, the wedding is when I declare before my family and the Lord that I am committed to this one man. The religious aspect is important to me, and although I would prefer a minister, these two guys I have in mind are definitely men of God, even if they didn't go to a seminary to have it declared so. I also have a thought that maybe some of the anxiety and pressure will be off, becuase HEY we are LEGALLY already married, no worries about signing a license or w/e. On the other hand, I fear that … I don't know… the excitement and waiting for the “…and I know pronounce you husband and wife” might be missing or that it will feel like just we're just going through a play or something…

Bless the dear heart of a featured Bride on Snippet and Ink who did the same thing, check it out here: (also, are those pictures NOT gorgeous!!). After I commented on the post that I had thought about the same thing, a fellow reader was sweet enough to email me that she had gone through with a courthouse ceremony beforehand, and it had actually turned out to be something very intimate and special and there was still the same excitement and anticipation at their real ceremony.

I'm still trying to decide.. I have a little bit of time but not much since we are past the 6 month mark now. Did you have issues with finding an officiant or do the whole JOP ceremony w/ a non-officiant at the actual wedding?


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  • Hello fellow Cbus bride! My cousin was married by an ordained minister who does weddings wherever for whoever and he charges about $200. I also know several DJs who are ordained in Ohio and most charge around that price, if not more depending on what is required of them (i.e. rehearsal time). It's worth the price to have someone who knows what they are doing, granted they may not be a close family friend. However, family friends aren't always good public speakers and might rush, mumble or speak to softly. I've seen it happen!

    That being said, our church required us to "donate" $500 for having our wedding there. Additionally, the church required that we hire their musician and coordinator at $150 each. And these are low figures from what I've heard and seen.

  • We are not religious so we knew we would need to hire an officiant – we found a list of all the officiants in our city and narrowed it down to those that described marriage and the ceremony (on their websites) in the same way that we did. We knew we found the right one when part of her sample ceremony included a line about the words and ceremony not joining us to each other…but that today was about recognizing a bond that already existed and making it legal matrimony. Go with your heart, it will lead you to the right choice for you. I planned my entire wedding in 2 months and it all worked out so don't worry about it being too late to do it "properly".

  • Gillian

    I wanted to comment not because I have experience with the JOP thing, but because our officiant situation is a little unique also.

    We live in Washington D.C. but are getting married in Connecticut where my grandparents live. Also, we're getting married near our family's lake house property, which is an hour and a half from where my grandparents actually live, and in the middle of nowhere. Since we have no real connection to a specific church up there, we looked at several different churches nearby and picked the one that fit us best. Oh, but since it is in the middle of nowhere, and has a small congregation, they had no permanent pastor at the time – so basically we had to find our own to bring in. Where do you even start that search? My mom had a roommate in college that she was very close with (and incidentally has not seen since college, but they reconnected on Facebook) who used to be a minister is now a chaplain for a hospital where she lives in… OHIO. I've of course never met her, but my mom asked if she would go out of her way for us and she happily agreed. We do our counseling sessions online, over Skype. She has actually ended up being a perfect fit for us and I'm so glad that we have someone with even a small, weird connection to us and our family as opposed to having to hire someone random. So I can commiserate with you and your stress over this – we not only didn't have anyone automatic we could turn to, the one we found we actually have to fly in. But she was more than willing to do it and I'm really happy with the choice we've made.

    So I guess my advice would be just to ask. Maybe start with your minister that you would've turned to initially – you can even emphasize that you don't want to put him out or make him feel obligated, the worst he can say is no. The ceremony is such an important part of the day and it's important to have someone you feel comfortable with.

  • jjmb11

    Your story sounds similar to mine—but I am getting married in the church I grew up going to, BUT I want to be married by a person who KNOWS my life, KNOWS my fiance, and KNOWS where we will be in the future. We have asked our pastor at our new church to officiate. The churches that we have found homes in have all be through a network of churches. I do not know where you are in Ohio, but this list may give you a chance to check out an incredible church that preaches the GOSPEL and serves the community from the love of Christ.

    Hope it helps-happy searching!

  • oh wow. Bless your heart, and yes, this is totally where I was when I got married. My husband and I married in Utah, which has rules exactly like Ohio's. My husband and I are both non-practicing mormons, but his family is still VERY active mormon, and not seeing us get married in a mormon temple was traumatic enough for them. Like you, we explored judges, JOP, EVERYTHING you can think of, and it was one of the few things that my husband and I didn't see eye to eye on, and was also a rather emotional topic. There was a lot of worms in that can 🙂
    In the end, we ended up by chance meeting the man who is sort of the on-hand "ordained" wedding minister at our venue (we got married at a historic pioneer village in Salt Lake) and though we laughed about it a little "Reverend Diamond Jim" ended up being the PERFECT person to marry us.

    (To Be Continued, my comment is too long!)

  • part II-

    now to the money part. I, too, was surprised that it was standard to pay between $100-200 to someone to officiate your wedding, whether they are a judge, a minister, or a friend. after thinking about it, I decided that's the price of taking someone's saturday afternoon really, whether or not they ask to be paid. Yes, I planned my wedding for 200 guests on $5000 and yes I wanted to cry at the idea of shelling out 200 more dollars, but in the end, that was the money I felt the most good about spending the whole day. That man took the time to meet us, write vows for us, and marry us, and it was beautiful, and I promise, it will feel worth every penny. You can't put a price on feeling completely at peace at the altar the very moment that it happens! My heart goes out to you and your fiance as you make these super tough decisions, and I hope that in the end, it brings you closer together.

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