Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Caution! You Are Entering a Danger Zone!

What would you do?

WEDDangerZoneYou chose your wedding date, booked the venue and hired a friend of the family to perform your wedding ceremony. The rehearsal was scheduled the day before the wedding. When the friend of the family shows up for the rehearsal, he knew nothing about conducting a rehearsal (and was guided by the owner of the venue) and upon leaving the rehearsal, told the bride and groom that he could not do their wedding. WHAT? This is the day before the wedding and now they do not have anyone to perform their ceremony.

Scramble time!

The owner of the venue called me at 10:30 p.m. the night before the wedding and asked if I could perform the ceremony. Fortunately for the bride and groom I was available. (Another good reason to have the rehearsal 2 days before the wedding – not the night before the wedding). This allows a day of rest and an opportunity to do last minute details – and in the case above, more time to look for a professional Wedding Officiant. Read “Guaranteed! No Hangovers on Your Wedding Day!” See link in BONUS Articles below.

The truth is, most Ministers and professional Wedding Officiants do not attend the rehearsal. I always do (subject to my availability, of course). It’s included at no additional cost as part of the fee. Some Wedding Officiants charge an extra $50 to $100 to be at the rehearsal. I want the bride and groom to feel comfortable with what they will be saying during the ceremony and for me to be aware of any last minute changes. But that’s not the main point.

When you hire “anyone” to perform your wedding ceremony, whether it’s a “friend of the family” who does it for free, or a professional Wedding Officiant, by contact they promise to be there and fulfill all their duties – not to back out at the last minute and leave the bride and groom hanging! You do need a signed agreement (contract) which gives you legal recourse.

This is not the first time someone hired an amateur. Several years ago I received a call from a bride who had just discovered that although they had a wedding ceremony performed by an uncle from Canada 1 year and a few months earlier, the Court House in Phoenix had no record of their license ever being filed. No official filing by the one-time wedding officiant = no legal marriage. In Arizona, once you purchase the license, you have exactly one year to use it and the Wedding Officiant has 10 days to file the license at the court house. I always file the license the first business day after the wedding.

The uncle went online and got an ordination to do one wedding. The bride was in panic mode!

I solved the problem by having them purchase another marriage license (Currently $72) plus a certified copy of the license (Currently $27.50) and performed a brief legal ceremony (with 2 witnesses) and immediately filed the license with the Maricopa County Court House. Although this is rare, the problem occurs when an inexperienced one-time wedding officiant is unaware of the legalities and all other aspect of the wedding business.

Solution: Always hire an experienced, full-time professional Wedding Officiant! AND check their references!!

BadChoiceBy the way, just to clear things up… getting an online ordination is perfectly legal in the state of Arizona. The hard part is finding a “qualified” wedding officiant with an online ordination who has the “experience” in performing ceremonies that will keep you from experiencing all the things that go wrong with an amateur.

This year alone (in the first 4 months of 2015), I have had no less that 4 calls from brides in a panic because their “friend of the family” backed out at the last minute and in one instance, the Minister of their church had something more important to do than perform their wedding ceremony as agreed. How sad.

Last year, (2014) at least 7 calls from brides whose “friend of the family” backed out at the last minute. This only happens when you hire someone who is inexperienced in the wedding business.

Some of the questions you should always ask an amateur is, are they legally qualified to perform weddings in your state? Three other questions should be, “Do you have a ceremony prepared?” and “Do you know what legally must be in a ceremony in your state?” and “Do you know your legal responsibilities after the wedding is over?” It is their responsibility to check the individual state laws regarding this issue. Most amateurs who get ordained online to perform one wedding ceremony will not be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction.

I repeat: Always hire an experienced, full-time professional Wedding Officiant! AND check their references!

BONUS Articles: No Thanks! A Family Friend Will Perform Our Wedding Ceremony!
Guaranteed! No Hangovers on Your Wedding Day!
When to Schedule Your Wedding Rehearsal…
Why Hire a Professional Officiant?

Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. Reprinted with permission. – This article is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is an award winning Wedding Officiant, professional speaker, relationship coach and is the author of, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. &


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Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: Cell: 480-205-3694. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Check Larry’s availability.

comment2Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. –

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