On Becoming a Minister

Oh my gosh, how is it Wednesday already?! Time flies when you have something to prepare for and so little free time to do it – such as laundry for this weekend’s adventure (oops…). My friends are getting married down in Mexico – and I’m officiating!!!

I admit I’m one of those people that got “ordained” online. The whole idea started out as a running joke with my dad – that I would get ordained and marry him and my step-mom. It’s pretty easy to get my dad a bit worked up, so we all had fun with this one (smile). So when the time finally arrived, imagine my surprise when they both agreed to actually let me officiate! The joke was rather tidily turned right back to me. Not one to back down from a challenge – and being rather excited about the prospect in truth – I immediately went online to figure out how this ordination thing worked. My next item of business was to call several legal entities in Alabama to make sure it was indeed legal – check and check! The ceremony was in my step-brother’s front yard and all rather lovely and personal. And now I get to enjoy the look of slight confusion on everyone’s face when I say that I married my dad!

Wedding ceremony

My first wedding!

I was also lucky enough to officiate the ceremony for my friends in California last year. It was fun to be a part of the wedding without the necessity of buying the funny dress (smile). That wedding was also gorgeous and personal. I’m thinking that this one in Mexico will be likewise!

Why?

I get this question a lot. I don’t adhere to any particular religious affiliation – or rather I adhere to my own personal blend of them – so I think it’s nice to have a neutral party. Familiarity also plays a big part. As I know my wedding party (or at least this has been true to date), it’s super easy to sit down and come up with a very personal, hand-tailored ceremony. I enjoy talking with the couples – a requirement – and looking at different options for the vows, rings, etc. I love building something that makes the couple relaxed and – most importantly – happy! So really the question should be why not?

How?

I got ordained through the Universal Life Church (The Monastery). You go online, fill out the application, pay the fee, and there you go! It’s relatively easy and painless. I take my duties very seriously, so I try to adhere to all of the guidelines given. I think that makes it more fun as well (smile).

Credentials of Ministry

Official Credentials

Lessons learned?

1) If the ceremony is to be performed in a church, there are church rules to be followed. In some instances ministers outside the official faith may be allowed to perform part of the ceremony, but it is a process. If you want to have a friend involved in a church ceremony, consult with the local minister at the very beginning.

2) Check the state law. Most states allow digitally ordained ministers to marry couples, but not all. You can check the website where you signed up, do some googling, and/or call the local magistrate’s office and ask. Either way, be sure to check before anyone gets their hopes up or ends up needing to be remarried!

3) Come up with some ideas and options for the bride and groom. Unless they have a specific idea of what they want (this couple does thankfully!), they may need some help getting started. Most people know the standard vows, but they tend to forget about all the other parts that can be included.

4) Read your script – and not just at rehearsal! I try to start a couple of weeks ahead of time and just read over it every so often so that on the big day I’m prepared. I don’t mind public speaking, but it’s not my specialty so I do get nervous. A familiarity with the script ensures less fumbling on the big day. Also, try to persuade your couple of the importance of a run through rehearsal – it’s not always clear to everyone who goes where, when.

5) Get a book and paste your script in. There’s nothing that says you can’t just hold up notecards (other than perhaps the bride), but I find that a plain black book looks nice and works well. I print the script in large font with plenty of space in between lines so I don’t have to squint to read it. Then I cut it out and paste it into my book. This is also a surefire way of creating your very own ministerial scrap book!

6) Request a microphone. No matter how loud you are, a microphone almost always helps. I’ve now done one ceremony with and one without – I know beyond a doubt that if there’s a beach involved, there has to be a mic!

7) Relax and enjoy! It’s such an honor to be asked to perform such an important duty. I won’t bother lying and telling you that I haven’t teared up once or twice during the ceremonies. I also try to add in a little personal story or phrase to surprise the bride and groom (keep it appropriate!), which usually gets a nice laugh. It truly is so much fun to be on that side of the “altar,” make sure you relax and enjoy your duties and your friends!

Have you ever thought of being ordained??

4 thoughts on “On Becoming a Minister

  1. Pingback: The Only Heathen in the Church | PonderTheIrrelevant

  2. Pingback: Travel Tuesday: Rocky Point Wedding | PonderTheIrrelevant

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