Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wedding Paperwork

Who hasn't seen this scenario in some movie? Couple has to get married; there happens to be a minister handy, he says a few words, they say "I do" and voila! they're married. My favorite was a Jim Belushi sitcom where Jim found out that the minister who had just performed his sister-in-law's wedding ceremony was "defrocked", so the marriage wasn't legal. So Jim gets online, gets ordained, and tricks the couple into saying "I do" as he sings a song with the band. What's missing in these scenes? A marriage license.

In Nebraska, and as far as I know everywhere else in the United States, a couple who wants to get married must first procure a marriage license issued by some arm of the government, usually the county clerk. Any ceremony carried out without a marriage license, signed by the officiant and two witnesses, even it's done by an otherwise legitimate officiant, is not a legal marriage. Your rabbi, minister, imam, even the Pope or the Dalai Lama can say all the words, and give all the appropriate blessings, but the state will not recognize that a marriage has taken place if there is no marriage license.

In Nebraska, you can go to any county courthouse in the state to get your marriage license - you are not limited to the courthouse in the county where you are getting married. (Several times this year we have received calls from people who thought that officiants issued marriage licenses - we do not!). You have one year to use your license (this varies from state to state, but in Nebraska it's one year). On the day of your wedding you will have two witnesses sign the license in addition to the officiant, who will deliver it to the county clerk who issued it. The county then sends it to the Nebraska State Vital Records Department. Now you're marriage is registered.

Getting a marriage license in Nebraska is a relatively quick and easy procedure. The link to Lancaster County follows, for your county, just search for "County Clerk marriage license" in the county where you live

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why An Experienced (i.e. Professional) Officiant is Important - Part II

One of the best reasons to hire your wedding officiant is so that your family and friends can be guests at your wedding and enjoy seeing you tie the knot, rather than "working". 

While it is very exciting and a huge honor to be asked to officiate a wedding for family or for friends, not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of others.  One situation that we have seen come up several times are friends who cancel because they have too many things on their plate for that time and date. We get many inquiries from couples scrambling to find someone because Uncle Joe cancels at the last minute or close to it. Professionals will be there for your wedding ceremony; that's what they do!

Most wedding officiants do not require pre-marital counseling. It can be a great way to look at different aspects of your interaction and communication to get pre-marital counseling and we have some great referrals for this avenue, but we believe that you deserve to make a choice about that. We start with the assumption that you have thought this through and know what you're getting into!

If someone with no experience agrees to do your ceremony you may be writing it yourself. Make that: you'll most likely be writing it yourself. When you hire a professional you can give them your ideas or things you have seen or just let them walk you through the different parts of a ceremony that can be included. 

If you have your heart set on an important person in your life officiating at your wedding, and that person has no experience, consider consulting with a professional to write the ceremony while having your chosen officiant read it at the wedding, this way you get the best of both worlds. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How Long Should Your Wedding Be?

There are definitely differences of opinion on what constitutes the ideal length of a wedding ceremony. If you've attended church weddings, chances are that it lasted close to an hour. If the wedding service is combined with the denomination's typical Sunday service, as the Catholic wedding is combined with the Mass, you're going to have a long wedding. It's been our observation, however, that the "sweet spot" for most weddings, especially outdoor weddings, is 15-20 minutes. Done right, this time frame will provide your family & friends with a meaningful ceremony, and no one will be checking their watches. On the other hand, you don't want your wedding ceremony to be too short. If you are just having a quick exchange of vows with your witnesses and close family, 5-10 minutes is probably fine, but if you've invited a lot of people, you don't want them to feel that they got all dressed up for nothing! The length of the ceremony is one of the variables that we at Beyond Illusion Wedding Officiants look at when working with you to design your wedding.

Connected to the issue of length of time is the "flow" of the wedding. A well-crafted ceremony will have a momentum that builds to the vows and then smoothly brings you to the conclusion. We've done close to 600 weddings over the last twelve years and have a fairly good feel for what kind of things contribute to the flow and what things bring things to a screeching halt or make for awkward segues.

The bottom line for us is to work with you to provide you with a wedding ceremony that reflects what is important to you. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

At What Point Should You Start Drinking on Your Wedding Day?

A wedding, while for some, a sacred event, for others a civil contract, for still others, the fulfillment of a long-held promise, but for a lot of people, it's also a party!

So, when should you start drinking?
Multiple Choice:
  1. The week before and don't stop
  2. During the limo ride
  3. Right before the vows
  4. After the best man drops the rings
Notice that I didn't say "never". Personally I enjoy an adult beverage, but as the officiant I don't consume any alcohol (or any other intoxicants for that matter) before the ceremony since I am being paid to speak coherently. But what about the groomsmen and bridesmaids? What about the bride and groom? For a lot of people a few pre-ceremony "cocktails" with "the boys" or "the girls" seems to be the rule rather than the exception, but like a national producer of fine lagers says: "Drink Responsibly". So what does that mean?

It helps if someone else gets you to the venue and you don't have to drive, but avoiding a DUI isn't the only consideration. Unless your wedding is a small intimate affair in your backyard, your wedding can be considered a bit of theater - you invited a bunch of people to watch you get married! Like I mentioned earlier, as an officiant I make it a rule to not drink at all before the ceremony; I'm not suggesting that the bride and groom and wedding party abstain too, but consider that you're on display as well. Sure, groomsmen and bridesmaids, after the processional, are tasked with just standing there looking pretty, responsible for being well-dressed scenery. If you're swaying or looking a little green due to an excess of alcohol, you're no longer invisible, but are now a distraction from the bride and groom.

And the bride and groom, well, you two are the center of attention. Passing out will surely embarrass your soon-to-be spouse, your in-laws and parents, and make continuing the ceremony problematic.

Okay, so the reception is safe, right? Kinda-sorta.

You're still somewhat on display, even though some inebriation is expected. All those people that you invited? They're still there. Most of them gave you stuff (you know, wedding gifts) and you really should be nice to them.

A few years ago I showed up for a wedding to find the bride crying because the groom was stinkin' drunk. Not tipsy, but stumbling, slurring drunk. He interrupted the ceremony incoherently a few times and passed out at his own reception. No one was impressed.

So what's the bottom line? Know what you can handle, know your limit and try to not approach that limit. Other than that, have fun!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Why An Experienced Officiant is Important

There's an old story about the maintenance man who shows up at the plant late one afternoon because the line has ground to a halt. The plant foreman looks on while the maintenance man stares at the offending piece of equipment for a few minutes, then reaches into his toolbox for a wrench, then tightens a bolt. Problem solved! However, the plant bookkeeper is shocked when he received a bill for $500. He calls the maintenance man, outraged and demands an itemized statement. The next day, he receives the statement:
  • Tightening bolt: $1.00
  • Knowing what bolt to tighten: $499.00
The point of the story, of course, is that he wasn't just being paid for his time on site, but for his knowledge and expertise. Another colorful metaphor that involves wrenches: I own a wrench, a pliers and a few screwdrivers, but that doesn't mean you want me fixing your car!

In the State of Nebraska, the only legal requirement for an officiant is to be a judge or an ordained minister, and Nebraska doesn't make any judgments regarding how you were ordained or who did it. But just because someone is legally able to perform a wedding (has a wrench) doesn't mean that he will do a good job at officiating.

Of course, it's just as legal if Uncle Bob has you say "I do", or if a buddy just signs the marriage license with no ceremony at all, and what's important is that you're married at the end of the day - but if you've invited a couple of hundred people and are having attendants and flower girls and all sorts of pomp, you want your guests to be be glad they didn't just skip the ceremony and head straight for the cash bar. You want someone who will provide you with a ceremony to match the circumstance.

That's us.

We know what works.

We know what doesn't work.

Because we've done almost 600 weddings!

Sure, it's your day, but you have invited a bunch of people to watch - give 'em a show! We take our experience and provide you with a ceremony that is perfect for you.

We know what bolts to tighten!

About Beyond Illusion Wedding Officiants

Hi there! We're Rev. Thomas Oakspear Joyce & Rev. Susie Joyce, but you can call us Tom & Susie! We've been officiating weddings since March 2007, and like we always say: "It's the best part time job in the world".

During our first year we had eight weddings but quickly got pretty busy and have done as many as 75 a year. So, when you choose Tom or Susie as your officiant, you get experience (close to 600 weddings) as well as someone who cares deeply about providing couples with a wedding ceremony that reflects what is important to them.

When you meet with us we walk you through a menu of possibilities, always remembering that you are the boss! We make suggestions, but always defer to what you want.

We've served as officiants in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Texas, but concentrate our services in the southeast Nebraska area.

Check in on this blog for articles about weddings, vendors and maybe some amusing anecdotes!

Check out our website and learn some more about what we do, our rates and how to contact us.

We also are on Facebook and Twitter