Officiating Marriage!!!

In August of 2014, I decided that wanted to perform weddings. What a wonderful blessing it would be to take part in a couples commitment to each other through the holy sacrament of Matrimony. Through Matrimony the two become one in Christ. Hence, they are no longer two but one body. The purpose of Matrimony is continuance, without divorce, except in the case of adultery. Before the altar, the groom receives his bride, committing himself while standing before the altar to love her like himself and treat her as an equal not any less, and she also promises to obey him. After the exchange of vows comes the rings. A symbol of love, commitment, fidelity and a daily reminder of a promise made. The ring symbolizes an indissoluble bond, worn on the left ring finger where, according to the ancient Romans, the vena amoris, translated from Latin to literally mean ‘vein of love’, ran directly to the heart.


ABILITY TO OFFICIATE MARRIAGE

There are a few ways to be able to officiate a marriage. In Florida, all regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, all judicial officers, including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public of the state may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract, under regulations prescribed by law.

Getting a marriage license prior to the ceremony is required in all 50 states. Each state has its own requirements that must be fulfilled before getting a marriage license; here is a summary of the most common requirements. As always, double check your particular state’s laws, as the requirements may change.

See more at: family.findlaw.com


NOTARY PUBLIC

My original idea was to become a notary as there were other things that came along with that title that I would be able to do.

Most people believe that notaries simply “notarize signatures.” This greatly oversimplifies a notary’s duties and responsibilities.

In carrying out his or her duties, a notary not only follows what is dictated in state law but exercises subjective judgment on matters such as the state of mind of the signer, the signer’s comprehension of the transaction, or whether fraud or coercion are present. The most typical notarial transactions involve the execution (signing) of documents.  In order for documents requiring a notarial act to be properly executed, the signer must physically appear before the notary, prove his/her identity to the notary, and acknowledge his/her comprehension of the document and willingness to sign OR swear/affirm that the contents of the document are true. The required notarial act is determined by the composition of the document or is at the direction of the signer or other party involved with the document—it is not determined by the notary.

The notary conveys the facts of a notarial act/transaction by completing an official statement called the “notarial certificate.” The notarial certificate is always signed, and often sealed (depending on state requirements) by the notary. The notarial certificate commonly appears at the end of a document or is attached to the document as a separate sheet. The most familiar notarial certificate language reads substantially like: “Acknowledged before me by (Signer’s Name) this (date) day of (month), (year)” or “Sworn/affirmed and subscribed (signed) before me this (date) day of (month), (year).”

The “golden rule” of every notarial act, whether it is paper-based or electronic, is the physical presence of the signer before the notary.  A notary’s ability to fully evaluate a document signer’s identification, basic understanding of the transaction and free will would be diminished. No alternative, such as an audio/video connection, can provide the notary with full sensory experience that physical, personal presence allows.

Notaries derive their authority from their state governments. They are “appointed” or “commissioned” by a top official of their state, generally the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State or Treasurer. Each state has its own unique notary laws and notaries must follow the laws of their particular state. This means that notaries in one state may have authority to perform duties that notaries in another do not—it depends completely on each state’s notary laws. There is no corresponding or overriding federal law governing notaries.

  • A notary’s specific, authorized duties vary by state but can include:
  • Administer oaths and affirmations;
  • Take and certify the acknowledgment of a document;
  • Take and certify affidavits;
  • Take and certify depositions;
  • Issue protests of notes and bills;
  • Witness the opening of safe deposit boxes and certify a list of contents;
  • Perform civil marriage ceremonies

A notarial appointment is a privilege, not a right. A notary is subject to disciplinary action as well as suspension or revocation of his/her commission. A notary may perform notarial acts ONLY while his or her commission is current. The length of a notary’s commission term varies by state, but is commonly four years and runs until 11:59 p.m. of the date of expiration. Most all completed notarial certificates will bear a stamped or handwritten notation that includes the notary’s commission number and commission expiration date.

The format of a notary public’s seal, and whether or not a notary is actually required to use a stamp or embossing tool, is unique to each state and is set forth in each state’s notary laws. See “Notary Information by State” on www.ASNNotary.org.


BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER

Another option would be to become ordained. I chose this option. The process varies from religion to religion and state to state. The most common way is to attend a seminary. If you want to open your own church it’s best to attend a seminary as it would provide the religious education you may need to be successful. Another way is to be ordained through an online ministry. If you feel you’ve been called to serve as a minister, you might find it more fulfilling to get ordained via the more traditional route of attending a seminary. Getting ordained online will allow you to perform weddings, but you won’t have your own congregation, and you most likely won’t get hired by a church to serve as pastor. Consider looking into seminary programs that may better suit your needs.

If you’re getting ordained to perform a wedding, this step is essential. Some states recognize online ordinations as legal, while others only consider you a minister if you have a congregation. Look up your state’s laws, or call your county clerk for more information. Some states require minister licensing, which is the process of registering as clergy with the state.

If you aren’t already a member of a church, this isn’t something to worry about. However, if you are a member of a church, getting ordained online could affect your standing. If you want to perform a wedding for a friend but you already belong to a different religion, investigate whether becoming ordained online could get you excommunicated.

If you are looking to be ordained online, do some research to find an online ministry you can see yourself joining. Some organizations simply send you ordination papers, while, others provide training as to how to perform weddings and other ceremonies. Make sure that whatever you choose is an incorporated and legitimate service.

Most online ordination services require you to fill out a short form with your personal information. Every church has different requirements for the ordination process, but most require the following:

  • Full legal name
  • Mailing address
  • Valid email address
  • A fee

After you submit your information, all you have to do is wait to receive your paperwork. Processing your request should take no more than two weeks. If you still have not received your official certificate and letter of good standing by then, contact the ministry.


MY ORDINATION

In August 2014 after applying to an online ministry for ordination, I received a call from a member of the ministry and conversed about the reason why I chose this option and the responsibilities that came with it along with the possibilities that being an ordained minister had. A few days later I received an email confirming my ordination and was sent some credentials. I was now legal to perform the holy sacrament of Matrimony, at least in my state.

EARLY JANUARY 2015

In January 2015 I was asked to officiate my first marriage. A same-sex marriage. I was delighted. As of January 6th, 2015 same-sex marriage was legal in Florida as a result of Brenner v. Scott, the lead case on the issue. In this case, a U.S. district court ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional on August 21, 2014. The order was stayed temporarily; state attempts at extending the stay failed, with the US Supreme Court denying further extension on December 19, 2014. With the stay expired, the case is still under appeal.

The couple set their wedding date as February 14th 2015. Valentine’s Day. Romantic yes? I met with the couple recently as anyone officiating a marriage should do before actually performing the wedding. They seemed just as excited as I was in the fact that they were getting married and that their ceremony would be the first marriage I officiated. I learned that there was a daughter between the two of them and she had in fact been included in the ceremony as both of the individuals had vows not only to each other, but to the daughter as well. Without giving away any details, they vow to love and raise their daughter as a family. Reading the vows almost brought a tear to my eye. The love conveyed through this act was unconditional and the love for a child, in my opinion, exceeds all else. They are currently working out details but in a week from today, they will be married. I am overjoyed to be a part of this and wish them all happiness in their lives.

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