Who/What is A Simple Ceremony?

I was legally ordained in 2004 to help officiate a friend’s wedding, and officially started offering services as “A Simple Ceremony” in 2009. My goal is to provide a meaningful rite of passage for couples who want to celebrate their marriage without religion. As an atheist, this was the ideal solution for me to be legally authorized to officiate weddings in the United States, and Michigan in particular. Equality, feminism, and separation of church and state has always featured prominently in my guiding principles.
Click here for more about me and on how I got started: About Me.

How do we get a marriage license?

You must apply for and pick up your own marriage license from the Michigan County Clerk’s Office:
Michigan residents apply in the county you live in.
Out of staters apply in the county the ceremony will take place.

It is only valid for 1 month, so don’t get it too soon! There is also a 3-day waiting period, so unless you pay for rush processing in extenuating circumstances, plan to go back in 3 days to pick it up. Then, bring it with you to the ceremony. I will fill out the details, you and your two witnesses will sign, and I will mail the copies back to the court for you.

How do we start planning our ceremony?

Think about your expectations, and talk about what each of you imagine your ceremony to be like. Read through my sample ceremonies and readings, and find parts that speak to you. Go to the Telling Your Story section to get ideas for what you might want to include to personalize your ceremony. 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”. I do offer rehearsals to help organize your ceremony and processional. (I also have many opinions I’m happy to share when asked!) I don’t have contact with your vendors before the event, so I’ll need you to keep me in the loop with any important details or changes. 

Are you LGBTQA+ friendly?

Yes, and I personally identify as a queer nonbinary person. (Pronouns: she/they.) I wear an equality rainbow pin on my lapel to every wedding.

What about polyamorous weddings?

I’m also poly-friendly, and can talk with you about multi-person commitment ceremonies and marriage within your polycule. 

Do you have your own microphone or speakers?

No, I do not bring any sound system equipment. Those items must be provided by you, your venue, DJ, or musicians. I almost always recommend having a sound system available, depending on venue and number of guests. 

What is your contingency plan?

In the case of unforeseen circumstances, I have a list of legally ordained and experienced officiants to call on 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 you have an officiant. See contract terms for further details.

How do we get optional items we need for the ceremony?

You will need to bring all optional elements in your ceremony (sand, vases, candles, hand tying cord, wine boxes, etc). Craft stores, dollar stores, online stores like Amazon or specialty wedding suppliers should be able to provide any items you’ll need. Just ask me if you need some direction.

What does an officiant wear?

I will typically wear a black or gray suit. If we are outdoors and the weather is hot and sunny, attire may be a lighter shirt and pants appropriate for the situation.

If you have a themed wedding PLEASE tell me ahead of time, I love to participate and 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 nor a mental health professional. I can recommend an open-minded family and marriage counselor on request. I’m 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 own copies, and you can have your own 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.

Will our ceremony be strictly non-religious?

Non-religious is my specialty, and I am an atheist/humanist. I don’t do organized religion, religious services or readings, nor mention any specific higher power or say prayers.

I will never include a surprise reference to a religion or god in your ceremony. I won’t engage your family or guests in a religious debate, either. You will have a full copy of your ceremony that we worked out together in email ahead of time.

However, you may include religious references in the ceremony if spoken by someone other than myself. Some traditions can be incorporated in subtle symbolic ways. If 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.  

Can we include spirituality in our ceremony?

Spirituality is different for everyone, and there are many ways to include those sentiments in your wedding ceremony. I am always open to discussing and finding ways to include exactly what you want.

I do welcome the wisdom of Pagan, Wiccan, Buddhist, Satanist, Abrahamic traditions and all other philosophies. For me, it’s all about the perspective in how that wisdom is applied.

Are you the pastor at a church?

(I get asked this question many times at weddings.) Nope, I don’t have a church or go to church. I am legally ordained by the non-denominational Universal Life Church for the sole purpose of officiating weddings.

Do we need Wedding Insurance?

I recommend you look into and seriously consider taking out a liability and cancellation policy for your event. Some venues and vendors may require it. Check out this article at Brides The 6 Best Wedding Insurance Policies of 2022 (brides.com).

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