California Wedding Officiant FAQ
How much does a Wedding Officiant cost?
We have a Few Different Packages to accommodate different needs and budgets. The fees vary based on the time of year and the day of the week. There may also be extra travel fees for weddings outside the central San Francisco Bay Area.
What does your fee include?
It depends on which Package you choose but in general, I will meet with you as a couple to get to know you a bit and allow you to share your ideas about the ceremony. I will then take your ideas and combine it with my resources and experience to create a unique ceremony customized and personalized to fit you.
I will travel to the ceremony venue. I will arrive approximately one hour before the ceremony start time in order to avoid any unanticipated travel delays, become oriented to the venue, and consult with the Wedding Planner regarding cues, and the DeeJay or musicians regarding microphone and sound check.
I will perform the ceremony in a professional manner that you and your guests will be proud of.
I will satisfy the legal obligation to submit the Marriage License with the County Clerk, either in person or via Priority Mail. I will send a digital Un-Official copy of the completed Marriage License to you as soon as possible, usually the next business day.
Do you offer any discounts?
Yes, there discounts for most weddings that happen Monday through Thursday, or between November and March.
What about the Rehearsal?
The truth is that I almost never go to rehearsals. It's for the couple and the wedding party to know where to stand and who to walk with. The officiant just stands at the altar and watches, so there is really nothing to rehearse. On some rare occasions, the wedding planner/coordinator wants the officiant to be involved in some complicated choreography. If that is the case my fee for attending is $90. I would have to see if I am available once you know the date of course. Ask your Coordinator/Planner if he or she thinks that I would need to be there.
When should you book a Wedding Officiant?
As soon as possible once you know your wedding date. Weekend dates between April and October often book up several months in advance.
Where does the initial meeting take place?
Since so many of my couples live far away, I do most of my consultation meetings via Video Chat/Web Conferencing using the Zoom interface. If you are local to East Contra Costa County, we can meet in a local Coffee shop. That way there is a table and chairs, not to mention WiFi. A side benefit is that there is always fresh coffee and snacks available.
What Authorization/Credentials do you have for performing Wedding Ceremonies?
In the state of California, a Wedding Officiant is someone who is ordained by an approved organization and therefore authorized by the state to formally conduct officially recognized wedding ceremonies and to certify the marriage license. I am Ordained and Certified by the Universal Life Church and American Marriage Ministries.
Do you do Religious or non-Religious wedding ceremonies?
As an Interfaith minister, I do both. My own personal view is that all paths lead to the same place. I have done Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Atheist wedding ceremonies. I will work with you to find the right spiritual content based on your background and beliefs.
How far are you willing to travel?
My standard fee includes travel within a one-hour radius of Brentwood CA 94513. If the venue is farther away than that, I would have to add to the fee for travel time and possible overnight accommodation. If you want me to perform your ceremony in the Caribbean or Hawaii that would be great. Of course, I will need a plane ticket and will have to adjust the fee. I would also have to be sure that the local jurisdiction will recognize my credentials.
What is your payment schedule?
I ask for a retainer deposit to reserve and guarantee your date, with the balance due one week before the day of the ceremony. We accept most major Bank Cards.
How does the marriage license work?
The marriage license is the most important part of your “Big Day”. The dress is important, the cake is important, the venue is important, but without the license, it is just a fancy party. The marriage license is an important legal document, it’s what, “Makes it Official!”
The two of you will need to go together to the County Clerk’s office and apply in person. I recommend that you call ahead or check the website to find out what you need to bring with you.
You must be unmarried and have a photo I.D. If you have ever been married before, you may need to bring your divorce papers. They will ask you for your parents’ names, and where and when they were born. Each Clerk can be a little different so check with them for specifics. Some counties allow you to print the application online, but you will still need to go to the County Clerk in person. You can get your license at any County Clerk in California and have the ceremony anywhere in the state.
Once you have the license, take care of it, and keep it safe. Be sure to bring the license to the wedding ceremony. After the ceremony, I will be sure that the witnesses sign it. I will then complete the form with my credential information and sign it as well. It is the officiant’s legal obligation to submit the license back to the same County Clerk where it was issued, within ten days.
Click Here for links to the websites of County Clerks in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.
Here is a great article that explains the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate.
Do you use a contract?
Yes, I will send you a digital proposal which contains a contract. It simply spells out what my responsibilities are and what yours are as well. It can be completed online and it has an easy button/link for sending the fee with any major bank card. Don't worry, it's not overly legalistic. You probably won't need to run it by your attorney.
What if the wedding doesn’t start on time?
It is quite common for wedding ceremonies to not start on time. Fifteen or twenty minutes is not a problem and almost to be expected. I often however have other professional and personal commitments scheduled after the ceremony. I plan to arrive one hour before the start time and depart one hour after it. If for some reason I need to be there longer there will be extra fees. Please give us the time that you actually expect the ceremony to take place so that we can accurately schedule around it. In some rare cases, I may not be able to stay and complete the wedding.
What if our wedding is canceled, postponed, or rescheduled?
Since the deposit reserves your wedding date and time for you only, the initial deposit is always non-refundable. If you reschedule your wedding to a date and time that we are available, we will apply the deposit to the new agreement. If you cancel your wedding altogether, there is no balance due beyond the initial deposit.
What if the officiant can’t make it to the wedding due to illness or injury or another calamity?
Fortunately, it hasn’t happened yet. Although there was one time when I was sick with a nasty cold and showed up anyway. We will do our absolute best to find another officiant to do the job. If it doesn’t happen, you will receive a full refund including the deposit.
Should we invite you to the reception?
It is really nice of you to think of me but I almost never attend receptions. I won’t know anyone there besides the two of you, and it’s a time for you to celebrate with your family and friends. During the busy wedding season, I am often conducting two or three weddings each week. That would be a lot of partying if I went to them all.