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"A wedding is much more than an event..... it's the beginning of your marriage journey!"

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Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I am asked as a wedding officiant (non-denominational ordained minister) by inquiring couples:

Q. What areas do you serve?

A. I currently travel to Seattle to Bellevue (King County), Everett (Snohomish County), Mt Vernon (Skagit County), Bellingham (Whatcom County), Oak Harbor (Island County) and all cities named in these counties that I've listed. 
 
Q. Are you legally able to marry couples?

A. Yes! I am an independent, non-denominational Christian minister originally ordained through the Universal Life Church (ULC). I was attracted to the mission statement that ULC offers. I am also completing my course of study for chaplaincy. I have since returned to seminary at Northwestern to obtain my Christian Counseling degree to add to the classes I have taken through courses with ULC.
Although I am a non-denominational Christian minister, I perform ceremonies that are non-religious (in layman's terms it is sometimes referred to as "civil" ceremonies) to spiritual to religious ceremonies. It just depends on what style of ceremony my couples are interested in. In Washington state, only ordained ministers and judges are allowed to marry couples.
 
Q. Do you require premaritial counseling or classes?
 
A. No, I do not require them. It is my belief that my couples know each other better than any outside party. It is also my belief that a couple should be given the freedom to make choices as to whether or not they feel that premaritial classes would benefit their relationship.
During your enagement, there can be stressful times. Some stresses can come from your family, friends, and finances. Sometimes, couples find it helpful to schedule a session or two to discuss some areas in their relationship that they would like to strengthen. If you are interested in scheduling some sessions, I would be happy to discuss these options. As a minister, I am authorized to offer pastoral classes to my couples. The program that I utilize is PREPARE/ENRICH by Dr. David H. Olson.  
 
Q. Why should we get married? We've been together for ____ years so we're common law married.
 
A. Contrary to popular belief, common law marriage doesn't exist in Washington state! I've been asked this many times. The only states that do recognize common law marriages are Alabama, Colorado, D.C., Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Of course, each of these states have different terms to be considered married under common law so if you think that you might qualify check that state's conditions.

Q. How do you go about working with couples initially? 
 
A. I have questionaires that I have created that I go over with couples either on the phone (when meeting in person isn't a possiblility) or during our initial, face-to-face consultation. I ask that whenever possible, both the bride and groom be present for the consultation so that I can get input from both of them and not just one. It's my opinion that there are two people getting married, not just one! Input from both my bride and groom allows me to be able to customize a ceremony so that aspects of their relationship are featured. I do offer unlimited contact by phone and email throughout our journey that leads up to your wedding day.
 
Q. What types of ceremonies do you perform?
 
A. I believe that a couple is entitled to have a ceremony performed based upon their personalities, spiritual and/or religious beliefs and any aspects desired to have present in their ceremony. I perform weddings, commitment ceremonies and renewal of vows ceremonies. (It is important to note that only weddings require the marriage license to be purchased; both commitment ceremonies and renewal of vows ceremonies are not “legal” ceremonies recognized by the state of Washington.) With this being said, I am open and willing to perform ceremonies ranging from "civil"/non-religious, spiritual, interfaith, traditional and religious.
 
Q. What are some things that make you "stand out" compared to other officiants?
 
A. One thing that I feel separates myself from many officiants is that I take the time to get to know each couple that inquires about my availablity. I also custom write each ceremony, personalizing the contents. I do this by gathering the information that I write down from my consultations, in the questionaires that I go over with each couple. Of course, I don't use all of the information but there are key areas that really help me have the tools I need to be able to sit down and write a ceremony.

I do give all of my couples options when it comes to the words used for their ceremony. I give my couples the choice to either write their ceremony in its entirety, contribute to the writing of their ceremony, or entrusting me to write their ceremony. Most couples fall under the last category. I do send off a rough draft of my couple's ceremony no later than a week prior to their celebration. Depending on my workload, I am able to send off the draft up to two weeks' prior to their wedding. I also work with requests from couples, when my workload allows, to send out the rough draft further in advance. When my couples view their draft, they are welcome to make comments, suggestions and anything they'd like to omit. It is my personal belief that the words read at a couple's celebration should be a reflection of their relationship, their beliefs and different aspects of their relationship.
 
I don't believe that the words read at a couple's celebration should be a shock, to the couple or to their guests! I also believe that a wedding celebration ever be inappropriate in its content. One example of this would be a couple who requests to have a non-religious ceremony and the officiant is preaching and sounding as if the guests are attending Sunday services at a church.
 
Q. What should I expect from you as far as what my ceremony will sound like? Do you have samples for me to read and look over?
 
A. Every once in awhile I am asked by a couple for samples of my work. Since I do write custom ceremonies based upon each individual couple, it is hard to showcase what all of my ceremonies "sound" like. Each couple has different themes and aspects of their relationship that they wish for me to base their celebrations on. Some ask for funny ceremonies, others religious and spiritual, and others that ask for me to present contemporary, non-religious celebrations. What I would write for you and your fiancee will be different from what I've written for another couple simply based on the fact that I base all of my writings on each couple, their experiences and beliefs and values. If you would like to be able to speak with couples, either by email or by phone, of those I've served that have okayed me to use their contact info as my references I'd be happy to forward that off to you. I feel this would best serve you and your interest in my presentation, how I incorporated different ideas given to me by my couples and my writing skills.

Q. Do you have any spiritual beliefs that could interfer with my wedding, regardless of what type of ceremony my fiancee and I choose?

A. I believe that “every person has the natural right (and the responsibility) to peacefully determine what is right”. I adhere to religious freedom of all people of all beliefs, whether that is through nature, traditional western or eastern practices or of no belief in a Higher Power. It is important to me that I keep this spiritual reference and carry this out through my service to those in my community and the couples I serve.

Q. What areas do you travel to?

A. I currently perform weddings in Skagit, Snohomish, Island, King and Whatcom counties. Please refer to the "Event Rates" section of my website for further travel information. You may also contact me directly with your venue information for a specific quote.

Q. What type of payment to you accept?

 

A. I accept payment via PayPal (there is a fee of 4.9%, plus 30 cent charge that PayPal charges, which is to be covered by the paying party), personal check, money order/cashier's check, and cash. Any balance will be due prior to the ceremony or rehearsal and is to be presented to me. All couples have the option of paying any balance for my services prior to their celebration.


Q. What do your services include?

A. My services include:


* an initial consultation with myself and the couple;
* the creation of your ceremony, with the incorporation of “mini-ceremonies” as requested;
* unlimited contact via email and phone;
* additional planning meeting(s) scheduled as needed; 

* travel to and from your ceremony site;
* either a rehearsal or walk through done prior to the ceremony start time;
* the coordinating of your wedding party, and working alongside any wedding professionals including any sound technicians, wedding coordinator(s) and photographer(s) is also offered to ensure a smooth transition into the performing of the wedding ceremony;
* the performing of the wedding ceremony;
* a keepsake copy of your personalized ceremony as well as a personal momento from your officiant to commemorate your special day;
* the filing of all paperwork for the marriage license (a certified copy is available at an additional fee, based upon what the county you purchased your license in charges).

Q. Does your service also include the purchasing of the license?

A. No. This must be obtained by the couple themselves. For couples who need more information on this, I have links to the websites of county offices that explain and give directions on how to obtain a license. A marriage license is valid after the mandatory three day waiting period. I am unable to perform a ceremony until the three day waiting period has passed.

 

Q. I've heard that some officiants are given a "tip" (gratuity) for their services. Is this required?? What's this all about?

 

A. The rates that I have listed on my website do not include a gratuity or "tip". Many couples as well as  the parents of the bride and groom offer a gratuity for my services just as one would for any service that you may receive, such as a haircut, valet parking, or out for a meal at a restaurant. This is always at the discrection of my couples and their families.


Q. What do my fiancee and I need to do to have you “save the date” of our ceremony?

A. First, please contact me via email (you can also visit the "Contact Tiffani" tab to fill out a form that is directly emailed to me, too!) or by telephone. Have the following information availble so that I may check my availability:


* date of celebration
* location & city where celebration will be held
* will the rehearsal be on the same day or on a different day?
* type of celebration desired (i.e. wedding or commitment ceremony)

A face-to-face intial consultation is not required, but helpful in determining if you, your fiancee and I are a good "match". I understand that sometimes there are time restraints that prohibit extensive planning. I will make accomodations as needed and on an individual couple basis. I will schedule and “save the date” for my couples after all parties have signed a contract for my services and a deposit of half of the fee is obtained. All inquiries and couples are helped on a first come, first serve basis.
 
Please note that I now accept PayPal, to make your financial planning of your ceremony easier!
 
 

Tiffani's son, Jonathan, dancing with family friend and bride, DeAnna at A Country Location (circa 2007)