Don’t worry – I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can here so you can get some answers. If your question isn’t answered here, please feel free to call or email me.
What is the retainer required to secure your services?
The required retainer to reserve your date and time is currently $125.00.
What forms of payment do you prefer/accept?
Our preferred method for payment of your initial deposit is Paypal. Bear in mind that Paypal requires an additional 3% for processing ($128.75), but this is definitely the fastest way to “lock” your date and time and receive your packet. For the initial retainer, I also accept cash, personal or Cashier’s check, or money order.
I can no longer accept personal checks for payment of the final balance (unfortunately, I had to stop taking them when couples started bouncing them).
What if we decide to cancel our wedding, or go with a different Officiant? Is our deposit refundable?
In accepting your initial retainer, I guarantee that I will be available at the desired date and time to perform your wedding. The only way I can do this is to turn away other couples inquiring about your date. For this reason, should you decide to cancel my services for any reason, your initial retainer will not be refunded.
What happens if we need to reschedule?
As long as I am available to perform your wedding, I’m happy to make the change at no additional cost. However, if you elect to reschedule and I am not available on the new date, then my obligation to you will end. Any money you’ve already paid (excluding your initial retainer) may be refunded at my discretion, and I will do my best to help you find another Officiant.
What happens if you are unable to perform the ceremony due to illness, accident or other unavoidable circumstances?
In over seven years as a wedding officiant, I haven’t missed a wedding (knock on wood, Formica or whatever your laptop is sitting on), but I realize that eventually, something may occur that keeps me from fulfilling my obligation to you. If, for any reason, I am unable to perform my duties as agreed, and I fail to provide you with a qualified replacement to officiate your wedding, I will offer my services at no additional charge on a date and time of your choosing (subject to availability). If this is unacceptable, then all fees paid (excluding your initial retainer) will be refunded to you.
Do you charge for in-person meetings?
Our initial consultation is always free. Subsequent in-person meetings may incur a small additional cost, and will depend upon our availability and the wedding package you’ve chosen.
What happens after we pay our initial retainer?
When I receive your retainer, I send you my complete Wedding Packet. The Packet contains numerous vows, “mix-and-match” ceremony design elements, and samples of ceremony elements that you get to choose from Your challenge is to figure out what you want…and have fun doing it! If at any point you need more material, I will gladly provide it and, of course, I’m always available to respond to your questions or concerns!
Do you offer any discounts?
I offer discounts if either of you is Active Military or First Responder, so be sure to let me know if you qualify for either of these discounts.
What if we need to rehearse on a separate day?
If you decide to rehearse on a separate day and would like me to attend, there’s an additional charge for time and travel to the location, if it is not included in your selected wedding package. For DeKalb county, the cost is $65.00. For other locations, the amount will depend on time and distance. I am always happy to conduct your rehearsal from start to finish, should you request it.
Are there any additional costs we should know about?
Occasionally, situations do arise that may require an additional charge:
• If your venue charges a use or admission fee (e.g., a State or National Park, Botanical Garden or other recreational site), I may ask that you reimburse me on the day of the ceremony.
• Any unusual charges to get to your ceremony site on the day of your wedding (e.g., a chair lift if you are getting married at the top of a mountain, etc.) may also be added to our fee.
Do you require a contract?
You will be asked to approve and sign a standard contract form that confirms the booking details and provides all pertinent information regarding the event. This protects everyone concerned, and precludes future misunderstandings.
When is the balance due?
Your remaining balance is due two weeks before the wedding starts.
Is it customary to tip the Officiant?
Gratuities are not expected, but always appreciated!
How long does the “typical” wedding ceremony last?
Most non-denominational weddings last from 15-30 minutes, including the walk-in and walk-out, but of course, the exact length really depends on the degree to which you “customize” your ceremony, since all ceremony content is up to you. In our experience, however, ceremonies lasting much more than 20 minutes tend to drag, and after 30 minutes, the snoring from the audience can become a serious distraction!
Kidding aside, the idea is for your guests to remember your ceremony for how interesting, beautiful, intimate and elegant it was…and not for how long it lasted!
Can you purchase our Marriage License for us? If not, how and when do we pick it up?
Unfortunately, I cannot purchase your Marriage License for you. You should apply for it in person at the office of any County Auditor/Recorder. Most counties require a 1-3 day waiting period between the purchase of the license and your ceremony. I will, however, file your license for you after the ceremony is completed.
How early do you arrive at the venue on the day of the wedding?
If rehearsal was held on a separate day, then I usually arrive about 30 minutes early to coordinate with other vendors (disc jockeys, musicians, photographers, etc.) If you’ve chosen to rehearse before the ceremony, then I normally arrive at least 60 minutes early to allow enough time for a run-through. We can rehearse the men and the women separately if the bride and groom don’t want to see each other before the wedding.
Do you offer, or require premarital counseling before the wedding?
Yes, but it’s optional. I use the Prepare/Enrich assessment, which is an online tool that each person takes. After the assessments are completed, I meet with the couple 1-2 times (for a fee) to break down the assessment results and make a plan of action for the couple.
Would you allow another Officiant, possibly of a different religion, or a friend or relative to take part in the ceremony?
Of course! In fact, I encourage it. Different voices always make a ceremony more interesting for everyone.
How long have you been performing weddings?
I have offered wedding services to couples in Northern Illinois since 2010.
Will we always be able to contact you if we have additional questions or need more information?
Absolutely! My fee includes unlimited phone and e-mail support. Carrier pigeon works too!
Are we allowed to write our own wedding vows?
Not only allowed, but encouraged. The wedding vows are the most intimate part of your ceremony, and should always come from the heart. However, if you hit a creative wall, I provide dozens of sample wedding vows in my Wedding Packet for you to choose or modify.
Is there anywhere you won’t go to perform a wedding?
I have done ceremonies indoors and outdoors, in hotels, restaurants, banquet halls, private homes, condos, parks, forest preserves, chapels, on golf courses, hiking trails, boats, and many other locations. As long as we can get there safely, we’ll go where the wedding is! With that said, I will NOT perform a ceremony scuba diving or high diving – no one wants to see these bodacious curves in a bathing suit or plummeting towards planet Earth at horrific speeds.
What do you wear when you officiate a wedding?
My dress for the ceremony is always appropriate to the formality of the occasion, and I always confirm my attire with the couple prior to arriving at the venue. Since I am an Evangelical, non-denominational Officiant, I do not wear religious robes or vestments, but I do have a white wedding stole I often wear over a suit, if the couple is OK with that arrangement.
Are you willing to incorporate elements from other cultures or religions?
I find the wedding customs and traditions of other cultures and religions fascinating, and would be happy to learn about, and incorporate, appropriate elements into your wedding ceremony.
If we decide to incorporate a wedding tradition in our ceremony like the Unity Candle, Handfasting or Blending of the Sands, do you provide the necessary materials?
I don’t. You are responsible for any “props,” such as sand, candles or cords, that your ceremony requires. Most of these are readily available from local wedding and hobby shops (e.g., Michael’s, Hobby Lobby), and you can also purchase them online. I will be happy to help you find whatever you need.
Do you ever accept a wedding on short notice? Does it cost more?
Although most weddings are planned well in advance, occasionally a sudden need arises, usually with very little advance notice (if any). When that happens, if I am available, I”m more than happy to help, and I normally don’t charge extra for last-minute bookings.
Will you make an announcement after the ceremony directing people to the bar, reception, family photo shoot, etc.?
Just tell me what you would like me to say.
Do you stay for the Reception? Should we reserve a meal for you?
If you would like me to say grace at your meal, I am more than happy to stay and do so, however I am not likely going to stay for the reception. The party is for your families and friends to celebrate, not babysit me (whom they probably do not know). I tend to decline invites to the reception or rehearsal dinners for this reason, but I do appreciate your thoughtfulness!