CNY Nondenominational Marriage Ministry is the wedding officiant Ministry started in 2002 by me under the Auspice of my church (The Progressive Celtic Church), Bp. Kirk. I am the only officiant, and this is currently my full-time ministry. My goal is to provide a meaningful rite of passage for couples who want to celebrate their marriage no matter what their background may be. I was ordained originally as a reverend by the Universal Life Church in 1997 than with the laying of hands like a priest in apostolic succession in 1999, then as a bishop in 2001. As an Interfaith Sacramental Christ, this was the ideal solution for me to be legally authorized to officiate weddings in the United States, and New York State in particular.
How do we get a marriage license?
You must apply for and pick up your marriage license from the County Clerk’s Office. It is only valid for one month, so don’t get it too soon! There is also a 1-day waiting period for me to marry you. Then, bring it with you to the ceremony. I will fill out the details, you and your one to two witnesses will sign, and I will mail the copies back to the town or city clerk office for you.
How do we start planning our ceremony?
Think about your expectations, and talk about what each of you imagines your ceremony to be like. Read through my sample ceremonies and readings, and find parts that speak to you. Go to the Start Here page for an outline of a custom ceremony. You can also answer the questions in the Telling Your Story section to get ideas for what you might want to include to personalize your service. When you have some ideas, you can email me your notes, or we can talk on the phone or set up a meeting in person. Once you have a place to start, then we can go from there in putting everything together and creating the ceremony that is just right for you both.
Are you a wedding planner or coordinator?
I am not a wedding planner, but in many ways can act as a day-of coordinator surrounding the ceremony. I will help coordinate your service and professional and can be available for your rehearsal. I don’t have contact with your vendors before the event, so I’ll need you to keep me in the loop with any relevant details.
Do you have your microphone or speakers?
I do not bring any sound system equipment, those items must be provided by you, your venue, DJ, or musicians.
What is your contingency plan?
In the case of unforeseen circumstances, I have a list of legally ordained and experienced officiants that I can refer you to as a backup. I keep your ceremony in google docs, so it is easily and quickly shared in such a case. If I am unable to be present, I will make every effort to ensure your wedding goes on.
How do we get optional items we need for the ceremony?
All optional elements in your ceremony (sand, vases, candles, hand tying cord, wine boxes, etc.) must be supplied by you and brought to the service. Craft stores, dollar stores, online stores like Amazon or specialty wedding suppliers should be able to provide any items you’ll need.
What does an officiant wear?
I will typically wear a black cleric shirt to a formal wedding ceremony a g. If we are outdoors and the weather is hot and sunny, attire may be a shirt and pants or a dress appropriate for the situation. If you have a themed wedding you’d like me to participate in by dressing in costume I am happy to discuss ideas with you. (Still waiting for a Jedi wedding.)
Is marriage counseling required?
Counseling is never required. I am not a counselor, but I can recommend an open-minded family and marriage counselor on request. I’m also happy to chat with couples about life issues on a personal level as part of the wedding planning process.
Do we need to bring a copy of the ceremony or readings?
I make a booklet of your ceremony that I will read from at the wedding. I always try to include every reading and even vows if you write them yourselves. You may wish to have other readers print their copies, and you can have your copy of your vows, but I will have a master copy just in case something gets lost. When the ceremony’s over, I give you the master copy as a keepsake depending if you get the $100 wedding package. You will have a full copy of your ceremony that we worked out together in an email ahead of time
Can we include religious references or not in our ceremony?
There are many ways to include religion or not in your wedding ceremony if you want to. Some traditions can be incorporated into a wedding ceremony in subtle symbolic ways. I am always open to discussing and finding ways to include precisely what you want.
Depending what you want as a couple, I can offer you in your services or perform any religious readings. I can or cannot do not mention any specific higher power or say prayers at your request. However, you may include religious references such as reading or prayer if spoken by someone other than myself.
On the other hand, maybe you are feeling pressured by your family to include religion, and you would prefer not to. I have helped many couples through that minefield in ways that satisfy everyone.
Are you the pastor at a local church?
(I get asked this question many times at weddings.) Nope, I don’t have a church building or go to another minister or priest‘s church. I am legally ordained by the non-denominational Universal Life Church as well as a sacramental minister myself for the sole purpose of officiating weddings and helping couples out that come to me that ask for my help.
Can my mom give me away?
Yes. This is your wedding you can do what will make you happy. Sometimes brides have lost their dad either to death or divorce causing undue stress on their wedding day. Some brides opt for a brother or uncle or even a friend to give them away and this is entirely appropriate. It is also essential to have your mother give you away…what a precious moment for a mother to give her daughter to the one who will love and take care her for the rest of her days.
Do I have to repeat my vows?
Nope. Some individuals are scared to speak at all in front of anyone so a simple “I do” or “I will” is fine. I have multiple options I share with you.
Can you incorporate our cultural traditions?
Yes, share with me what you would like to include, and I will help you work it into your ceremony. I have included German, Irish, Egyptian, Jewish and other traditions in celebrations and it adds a beautiful personal touch to your service.
We have a family member who can be very bossy, and we are worried they will try to take over the rehearsal. Can you help us?
Yes. I am happy to play “bad guy” to protect your wishes. Because you and I cover everything extensively before the rehearsal, it makes it easy to state the way things are going to be done.
Remember, this is your day about your love story. Think of the traditional wedding ceremony as a guide, not a rule. Your officiant should support this.