Annie & Marco: A photo from their DeSeversky Mansion wedding ceremony with me as their wedding officiant. This is the mansion on the campus of NYIT at Old Westbury – A beautiful location for a beautiful couple! Photo thanks to their videographer Rob Coup.
This page has become rather extensive over time and has been recently updated to include some of the things you want to ask but may be shy about. While I am sure this won’t cover everything, here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.
Q: “How soon before the wedding should we be looking for an officiant?”
A: Many couples book a year and a half to two years in advance especially if they know their date is a popular one. Most of my couples like to take their time going over the draft and fine tuning what will be said. For others a couple of months is fine, and for others they’re asking about this weekend coming. Every relationship is different and the golden rule these days is “What Ever Works!” But any vendor you have your heart set on it is always better to book early.
Q: “Can we meet with you and still meet other officiants before we make our decision?”
A: Of course you can! This is why meeting is free of charge and at no obligation. I feel like a piece of me stays with every couple that I marry and it is important to me that you are comfortable having that kind of connection to me. I also feel like if you haven’t seen the original writing… How do you know what you are saying Yes or No to. This is why I will meet and write with you, then have a draft of your ceremony to you within 48 hours before I ask for a commitment. There are many good officiants, but only one right one for every couple. Sometimes comparing our work side by side is absolutely the best way to choose!
Q: “Why do we need a professional officiant?”
A: Because we know how to marry people! We have creative writing ability, knowledge of options, traditions and structure as well as a talent for public speaking. People think that it will be more personal if a friend or family member marries them… so while they do love you… they have no reference points for the task at hand. The majority of last minute requests that we get are from couples who have had a friend or family member realize they are in over their head and then back out at the last minute. Another consideration is that in New York online officiants are not legally able to perform wedding ceremonies. Many couples don’t like the idea of having to get legally married at Town Hall then have a symbolic ceremony for family and friends. So we do offer options for those who have their heart set on giving someone special more than a reading on our fees page.
Q: “How do we know that you are authorized to marry us?”
A: This is a great question with the grey area that online ordinations have caused! As a full fledged Interfaith Church, my authority to marry and bestow ordinations comes from the Federal Government. All CoAW officiants hold CoAW ordinations and are fully legal to perform marriage ceremonies in all jurisdictions of New York State. Our contact information is even given to couples by three Town Halls on their list of local officiants, who can perform legally binding marriage ceremonies. (Town of Babylon, Town of Hempstead, and Town of North Hempstead)
New York City does require registration and I am officiant #9484. Click here to view documentation. This means I can also marry you in New York City if you wish! Officiants registered before 2006, have had their credentials checked using New York State Requirements. Registrations after 2006 may only be valid to perform marriages within the City of New York. For more information on online ordinations and their validity here on Long Island here is the full article with cases and links.
Q: “How long have you been an officiant for?”
A: Since 1997, long enough to be knowledgeable, yet still enthusiastic about every ceremony that I perform. I am a full time professional wedding officiant, with a team of 7 officiants and 4 alternates all working as CoAW. My couples are not squeezed in after a “real job”, weddings are what I do. I’m recommended by top locations and work well with other vendors as your team, to give you the best of what everyone has to offer. You are the only stars on your day, we just help you shine!
Q: “If we book with you, will YOU be the one to perform our ceremony?”
A: Yes. I have been getting this question often lately and while there are officiants who overbook and then farm out the overspill, I am not one of them. If you book me you get me. If I am unavailable and you are working with one of my associates they will be the one to marry you…
With myself and all Church of Ancient Ways Officiants we Guarantee the person you hire is the one to show up on your day. Unless you choose to take a reduction in fee by not booking one particular officiant, but rather “a qualified COAW officiant”.
Q: “Do you require premarital counseling?”
A: No. I believe that in searching for the key components to your ceremony, what are the things you want to promise and be promised on your wedding day… what do you love most about one another… that the writing process itself encourages you to discuss many of the things spoken of in counseling, only in a more natural manner. Every relationship is as unique as the couple themselves and far be it from me to ever try to tell you what will work for you. With that said 2 of our Church of Ancient Ways Ministers are also Licensed Clinical Social Workers. If you are seeking relationship counseling, we can provide it and it is insurance reimbursable.
Q: “What kinds of ceremonies do you perform?”
A: All kinds! See the Sample Ceremony Section. We have Civil, Religious, Interfaith and Multi-Cultural Weddings, Commitment Ceremonies, Baby Blessings, Vow Renewals, we can even create new original writings for unique occasions! Over 2 decades ago there really wasn’t a name for the kind of writing we were doing, so we started to call them “Couple Centered Ceremonies”, because we keep all the traditional aspects that you are connected to, and toss out the things that make you cringe. We are well versed in religious aspects, culturally considerate and have the writing skills to turn your thoughts and feelings into personal sections that will make everyone present feel closer to you and to one another by sharing a side of you and your relationship that they wouldn’t see on any other day.
Q: “We just want a simple ceremony, do we have to meet with you for that?”
A: No, you don’t have to do or not do anything with me. If you see your talking to each other as the center of your ceremony, if you are traditional and want the words you have always heard as what makes you married, if you want a short and sweet civil ceremony… these are all great reasons to keep it simple. I try to do want you want me to do for you and if skipping the meeting in favor of picking and choosing elements from my website works for you, then it works for me. The best part of this is that meeting and original writing take time, first to compose, and then to fine tune. Meeting is always free of charge and without obligation, but if you don’t want that time you don’t pay for it. For couples using my pre-written material it’s $100.00 right off the top! Myself and my officiants only do one meeting a night, so if you are freeing a spot on the calendar for another couple, IMO you deserve a discount!
Q: “How long do your ceremonies usually take to perform?”
A: It is up to you but I usually try to run no more than 20 minutes. Any longer than that and we run the risk of sounding like “blah, blah, blah, blah….”
Q: “We are… a. Second Marriage Catholics
b. Of Different Religions
c. More Spiritual than Religious
d. Looking for a Justice of the Peace style Civil Ceremony
e. Planning to include Multi-Cultural aspects
f. Planning to Include Our Children
g. Wondering if you knew any Klingon
…. Is this a problem?
A: On the contrary, it is a blessing to know who you are and what is important to you. Everything that is important to you is important to me if I am to help you create a ceremony that celebrates your life and your love. I can always learn a few sentences of another language but if it’s more than that, I recommend choosing someone fluent for the job.
Q: “We have always imagined ourselves being married by a man. Is this wrong?”
A: Not at all. You should have what you want for yourselves! I have 4 wonderful male officiants and will be happy to help you find the one who is right for you!
Q: “We think we want to write our own vows but aren’t sure is this ok?”
A: Of course it is! There are many ways to do this and I am here to help. There is also always the back door. If you just can’t talk when the moment comes instead of asking you to I say “These are your beautiful Bride’s own words to you on your wedding day” and nobody is the wiser. I do find that knowing you don’t have to speak removes the pressure that causes the stress to begin with.
Q: “How closely do you schedule your ceremonies?”
A: I don’t schedule closer than 3 hours in between weddings, unless of course they are in the same town or at the same venue. Included in what I consider your time is a buffer “just in case”. You will never lose any part of your day because I am late and I will never schedule so closely that you feel rushed in any way.
Q: “How early do you arrive?”
A: This is another great question to ask your officiant. How much time of theirs is yours on the wedding day. I arrive 45 minutes – 1 hour before your scheduled start time and stay till roughly 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, with the ceremony concluding 30 minutes after the start time, and the final 15 minutes to break down the PA, congratulate you and your families, and finish up any paperwork that’s left..
Q: “What happens if you get sick?”
A: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful team of truly gifted professionals. I work closely with Rev. Deb Viola, Father Joe DeVincenzo, Rabbi Sara Shonfeld, Judge William Corbett, and Rev. Aviva Sala. I know many of you have read the stories on the local chat boards about some officiants “running late” or “getting stuck in traffic” or the ever popular “sick mother” and sending a replacement. With myself and all Church of Ancient Ways Officiants we Guarantee the person you hire is the one to show up on your day or your ceremony is FREE.
Q: “Do you have any restrictions on photography or video?”
A: Absolutely not when it comes to other professionals. I want your photographer to get you the best shots possible. After all these pictures are how your great-great-grandchildren will know you. Your vendors should all be working together to give you the best we have to offer. – With that said, many are choosing to have an unplugged ceremony where guests are asked to put their phones and camera away till after cocktail hour. If this is you… I can help!
Q: “What do your typical services include?”
A: My services are all tailored to fit your needs and usually include:
A meeting where we talk about what you want your ceremony to be like. What’s important, what’s not, things you want to include, things I should steer clear of… And of course your story which is were the original writing comes in.
My turning what you say into a 1st draft and emailing it to you. You will have your first draft within 48 hours and this I do without obligation to you, because in my opinion the language used is important. It should be something you are connected to… and if I don’t do the writing before I ask for a commitment… how do you know what you are saying yes or no to? This is why I actually want you to see how we will work together and what a retelling of your story would sound like before you make a final decision to hire me. This partly because yes, I am that confident in what I do, and partly because I really want to make sure that you feel that I am right for you. As I said before, I feel that a little piece of me stays with every couple I marry, and it is important to me that you feel good about having that kind of relationship with me.
The changes and fine tuning that make the draft into your ceremony.
All the email and phone support you need.
On the day of the wedding I get to the site 45 minutes to an hour early to make sure that any one who has a part is comfortable, and to coordinate with the other vendors and such.
I bring my own PA and even electricity if necessary. Yes many halls have their own, but mine is all wireless & smaller than my pinky nail. Look at the Photos There’s no big stand & ugly turkey leg of a microphone stuck in your face or for you to have to hold. Your guests will hear you doing your vows not me. (this can be an additional fee of $250.00 – $300.00 if not supplied by the venue or officiant )
You get to keep the final printed ceremony book that I read from with the pretty Certificate of Marriage… the one that doesn’t get you medical insurance or obligate you to the marriage penalty on your taxes, but at least you don’t have to wait for it to come in the mail. Another reason I started making the keepsake certificate is because the Nassau and Suffolk license has no place for the Bride and Groom to sign on the day. Your applying for it is your signature. So if you want the traditional signing the license with the Best Man and Maid of Honor pictures…. well then you just have to fake it with an ugly piece of paper, so why not make a pretty one?
I sign and process the real Marriage License, which is always sent certified mail, so that if 6 weeks comes and you still don’t have your certificate from the state…. we have a tracking number.
I copy the Marriage License for your records. Yes! Bring it on the HM if you booked a resort that gives you free stuff with proof of marriage, but remember to remove your SS# & Mom’s maiden name. This is another reason that the personal integrity of the person you hire as your officiant is so important. On your wedding day are handing them the 2 most important pieces of personal information that you have.
Q: “Do you charge extra to add a candle lighting, rose or other ceremony?”
A: Never! I don’t micro-manage fees and ceremony content. I’m with you for the same amount of time on the day no matter what you include or how big your bridal party.
Q: “How much contact will we have with you before the wedding?”
A: As much or as little as you want. Some couples finish everything themselves then send it all back and others want to talk about all the options for every decision they make. I’m good either way, however you can expect a check in call every now and then. All calls and emails are answered within 24 hours except on weekends when weddings sometimes keep me away from the computer.
Q: “When and where do we meet with you?”
A: I usually meet weekday evenings at my home in Kings Park.
My Friday, Saturday and Sunday are usually spent marrying. However in the slower months there are some weekend opportunities. If I have a space between weddings that puts me in your neck of the woods, meeting at or by your home is another possibility.
Q: “What about the rehearsal?”
A: If we do a run through on site the day of the wedding, it is usually scheduled for an hour before the ceremony is to start. This is included in my fee. If not on the day of then it is an extra charge for the extra time it will take. Many times my couples are comfortable enough with the draft that they do not need a rehearsal. I myself think it is a good idea for small children to be walked through at the location. Most often the Maitre-d handles all the ins and outs of a run through. If there are no moving parts to the ceremony, I am strictly ornamental. If you are in a venue with nobody directing traffic, we draft someone to send you down as I catch.
Q: “We have our Marriage License. Can we come over and get married now?”
A: Believe it or not the answer is usually “Yes!”. As long as the 24 hours it takes to become valid has passed, you are all set! We have locations in Kings Park, Bellmore, Plainview & Sea Cliff. So give me a call and we’ll get you married!
Q: “What do you wear?”
A: I usually opt for a plain black judicial style robe, to hide the transmitter and wire from my mic. I have other colors, colored stoles and I am comfortable in a dress or decked out for a theme wedding. So what I wear is whatever you want me to wear.
Q: “We read online “To tip them is to trivialize their profession and extremely bad etiquette.” Is this true?”
A: No it is not an insult but it is not required either. Professional Officiants vary in how good they are just like any other vendor. Some keep their costs down by rushing in and out, performing the bare minimum required by law to increase the volume they can do in a day. We keep our fees on the low side, even with all the promises we make, because of the number of weddings we can do in a year through the venues that graciously recommend our services. Many vendors in all categories and price ranges will bend over backwards to spend the time and effort that it takes to give you the wedding of your dreams. I believe that anyone who goes above and beyond should be rewarded in some way and those who do not should not be. You know who was there for a buck and who really wants everything to be amazing on your wedding day.
Q: “What do you need to know from us to check your availability?”
A: Date, Time and Location. Please feel free to call me any time!
$100.00 Wedding Ceremony Special !!!
Simple, affordable, low cost, but still beautiful options are available! For the couples who come to my location, with no more than one or two witnesses, this is the ticket! Ask about the aptly named “Just Marry Us”.
You’re in and out in 20 minutes and married! If you have more guests than that, the gazebo at Northport Harbor is a great option. The fee is $150. and instead of you coming to me for 20 minutes, I come to you for about 20 minutes.
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