Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you perform your ceremonies?
I’m not tied to any particular venue – I can perform ceremonies anywhere. I do have some favorite venues that I can suggest if you’ve not chosen a location yet.
How much do you charge?
My fee varies based upon the complexity of the ceremony and the distance of the ceremony venue from my location, which is Akron, Ohio. My rates are competitive, however, I will readily admit that I’m not the least expensive officiant around. Cheap goods and services are cheap for a reason – because they suck. Be wary of anyone who will perform your ceremony for an astoundingly low price, as one gets what one pays for.
Do you offer any discounts?
I offer discounts for ceremonies that meet any of the following criteria:
- Take place in the morning (ending before noon) or mid- to late-evening (beginning no earlier than 7:30pm and ending no later than 10pm)
- Take place on a Friday or Sunday, with an additional discount applying for Monday through Thursday ceremonies
- Take place in November/December, with an additional discount applying for those in January/February
We have X people attending our wedding. How much do you charge for a wedding that large?
I don’t charge more if you have more people attending your wedding ceremony. Some officiants do, and I think it’s extraordinarily lame. Whether it’s just two people (namely, the couple) or two thousand people, my fee is the same. I’m not Wayne Newton. Much. (Kidding. I’m not Wayne Newton at all, just to reassure you.)
What makes your wedding ceremonies different?
A church wedding is all wrong for couples that aren’t religious. I provide a secular or spiritual alternative to church weddings. A justice of the peace offers the same alternative, but the resulting ceremony is dry, short and not custom-written based on the couple’s tastes and beliefs.
Do you do “traditional” ceremonies using traditional wedding language?
That’s entirely up to you. If you want to use traditional wedding language (“I, Brad, take you, Suzy, to be my lawfully wedded wife…”) I’m happy to oblige. Take a look at some of the ceremonies I’ve performed for some examples of nontraditional language. You can also do both – for example, nontraditional vows but a traditional exchange of rings. I’ll say whatever makes the ceremony meaningful for you both!
We’re having our wedding in a church – can you still perform the ceremony?
Churches almost always require that, at very least, an ordained member of the church’s religious order performs a wedding ceremony that takes place in their chapel. That being said, I’m happy to perform a wedding ceremony anywhere, church or otherwise, if it can be arranged.
We wrote our own ceremony – will you simply recite it?
No. The words I speak during a wedding ceremony directly reflect on me personally and professionally. As such, I don’t simply “read” ceremonies prepared by others.
Can we write our own vows?
Absolutely! I encourage you to write and recite your own wedding vows if you feel comfortable doing so.
Can we read and edit the ceremony you’ve written for us?
No. I ask that couples trust that I will compose the perfect ceremony for them, and because of this I don’t allow them to read it ahead of time. The words will have much more impact if you hear them for the first time on your actual wedding day.
Our wedding is going to have a unique theme – can you write it based on that theme?
Yes, but depending on the complexity of the theme, there may be an additional fee. For instance, if you’re looking for simple references to an ethnic-themed wedding, no additional fee will be required. On the other hand, if you want a traditional Klingon wedding, that’s going to require some extra research, extra writing and extra money. Plus, I’ll have to learn Klingon.
Can you dress a certain way for our ceremony?
I’ll wear whatever you want for your ceremony – within reason. Most couples want someone in a black suit and white collared shirt, with or without a tie. If you’re looking for something a little more exotic (like a cassock and cincture, or a costume for a themed wedding), extra charges will apply.
How long do your ceremonies last?
Depending on what you request to be included in the ceremony, 15 to 20 minutes. This doesn’t include the processionals or any other additional elements. While this might not sound like a long time, trust me – it’s just right. It’s a densely packed ceremony – every word is robust with meaning. Most couples (as well as most ceremony attendees) would prefer a short, purposeful ceremony – without the rambling commentary that some officiants insist on engaging in – and one that focuses on the couple’s love and not a litany of religious instructions for the married life.
Do you bring your own sound equipment?
No – it will be your responsibility to provide sound equipment if you want me to use a microphone. Please be aware – I can ONLY use a wireless lapel microphone. You must make your DJ or sound person aware of this in advance. I CANNOT use a traditional handheld microphone, even on a microphone stand. In most cases I can project quite clearly without a microphone – in all but the most necessary cases, I recommend against using one. They detract greatly from the atmosphere of the ceremony.
Do we have to attend pre-marriage counseling with you before the ceremony?
Absolutely not. I find pre-marriage counseling insulting, invasive and distasteful. I’m not a therapist, and can offer you no advice for a successful marriage other than to always love and respect each other. Similarly, I do not “screen” couples from some imaginary moral high ground to determine if they are “ready” to get married. You’re both adults and I trust you’ve made a reasonable, informed decision to marry each other. This paragraph constitutes the whole of my pre-marriage counseling.
May we contact other couples you’ve performed ceremonies for?
You may! The testimonials page has comments couples for whom I’ve performed ceremonies, as well as their friends and loved ones. Contact me and let me know who you’d like me to put you in touch with. I’ll also put you in touch couples I’ve worked with who have not left testimonials, such is my confidence that their feedback will reflect the high caliber of the services I perform.
What would happen if you were unavailable to perform a scheduled ceremony?
In the extremely unlikely event of a catastrophic emergency, I have an associate officiant who will preside over the scheduled ceremony at a moment’s notice.
Will you shave your beard for our ceremony?
No. If you require that much control over your wedding day, I’m probably not the right person to perform your ceremony.
Do you perform gay commitment ceremonies?
I very much look forward for the day when all state governments legally recognize a gay couple’s right to marry. Until then, however, I will cheerfully perform non-legally binding wedding ceremonies (sometimes referred to as commitment ceremonies) for gay couples. You can read my manifesto on gay marriage (and the senseless opposition to it) here.
We wish to renew our vows – can you officiate the ceremony?
I will happily celebrate a vow renewal ceremony. The same process and fee structure is utilized as for a wedding ceremony.
Is it standard practice to “tip” the officiant? Do you accept gratuity?
Whether it is standard practice or not is a matter of some debate. Nonetheless, I expect nothing more than the agreed upon fee. That being said, I do cheerfully accept gratuity.
Should I invite you to our rehearsal dinner or reception?
Weddings are intimate affairs for the couple’s friends and family. I have no problem simply performing my duties at the rehearsal and ceremony and excusing myself. However, I’m honored by any invitation to break bread with and enjoy the company of your loved ones. However, I’m often forced to decline those kind offers, usually because of other ceremonies or rehearsals that I must attend.
You won’t be offended if we don’t tip you or invite you to our rehearsal dinner or reception?
Weddings are expensive enough as is. I don’t begrudge anyone who wishes to spare the expense of having me at the rehearsal dinner or reception, or who wishes to forgo gratuity. I’m just happy to be a part of your wedding day!
How do we get our marriage license? Do you furnish it?
It is the responsibility of the local court authority to provide a couple with a marriage license. Fees and procedures vary from county to county. Check with your county courthouse for information and bring the entire marriage license packet with you to the ceremony.
Should we get you a boutonnière?
You don’t have to, but I do like both pretty flowers and looking spiffy. Just sayin’.
I spoke to someone who will do my ceremony for half of what you charge! Why bother paying the extra money?
Couples spend thousands upon thousands of dollars (even for modest weddings) on details that most attendees – and sometimes even the couple – forget. Most people who attend your wedding won’t remember what the flowers looked like, if the groom wore a vest or a cummerbund, or the quality of paper the program was printed on. What they will remember is if the ceremony went smoothly, and the person officiating seemed bright, thoughtful and seemed to genuinely know, care for and connect with the couple. They’ll also remember if the officiant rambled, pronounced names wrong, or said something grating or offensive that clearly did not fit into the couple’s worldview. When it comes to wedding officiants, you get what you pay for. Opt for the plain green beans rather than the green beans almondine at your reception, and use the extra $50 or $100 you’ll save to spring for the best officiant you can find. You and your guests will remember your officiant, but not their side dish.
The other officiant I spoke to is a Doctor of Divinity! Doesn’t that make them more qualified than you?
<Insert Expletive Here> no. Historically, a D.D. degree is conferred to an individual by a university to teach theology or related religious subjects. In the United States, a true D.D. degree is honorary. However, several organizations “sell” D.D. degrees (or the equally meaningless Doctor of Metaphysics degree) to people willing to shell out $30. I find the practice insulting to the true scholars who have worked tirelessly to earn a true doctor-level degree from an accredited university. Anyone who wears the letters DD, MsCD or any other nonsense letters after their name should be approached with skepticism. Not only has this officiant deluded him or herself into believing they are a doctor, they are trying to delude you into believing it to. You should be wary of doing business with someone so dishonest.
What are you exactly, anyway? A priest? A minister? A Justice of the Peace?
I am ordained by the Universal Life Church and licensed by individual jurisdictions (the Secretaries of State in Ohio and West Virginia, and in Pennsylvania, each individual county’s Clerk of Orphans’ Court) to solemnize marriages. That’s all. I am not a priest, minister, rabbi, or anything of the sort. Nor am I a Justice of the Peace, as I’m not a judge. I’m just a guy who can legally marry people.
So what do we call you, then?
Some ordained individuals like to be called Reverend (or occasionally Father or Brother.) I disdain any such title. The title of “reverend” implies that the bearer of said title should be revered. This, to me, implies moral authority, and as I do not claim such authority (nor do I consider any person – living, dead or yet to be born – to be worthy of that claim) I gently but firmly insist that you call me “Tim” or “dude.” (You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.)
Is this your full-time job?
It is now! I said farewell to my day job in 2011 and I now officiate weddings full-time. But it’s far more than just a job for me – it is a passion and something that I enjoy immensely. I’m very fortunate to get paid to do something I love so much.
How many ceremonies have you performed? How often do you perform ceremonies?
When I began in 2010, I performed 22 ceremonies. In 2012, I performed 85 ceremonies. I anticipate performing more than 100 ceremonies each year from 2013 onward. In the summer and the warmer months of spring and fall, I perform anywhere from 2-6 ceremonies each weekend, and 3-4 each month in the late fall, winter and early spring months.
We need to get married yesterday! How quickly can you perform our ceremony?
If you’re looking for a “quickie” ceremony and your wedding license is about to expire – or if you need a ceremony on short notice for any other reason – I can perform most ceremonies the same day. Just contact me.
What are some of the best anagrams of your name?
Hoagie Me Trust, Atheist Morgue, Age The Tourism, Goatee This Rum and Meager Hot Suit.
How many tattoos do you have?
It depends on what you count as a single tattoo. Conservatively speaking, I have nine, but I’ve been “under the needle” several more times than that.
Which one is your favorite?
What’s the story behind it?
You can read about it here.
Are any of them visible when you’re clad in your marryin’-people garb? Our grandparents will probably stroke out if you’ve got some Mike Tyson-esque shit going on.
Negatory. Nothing on my hands, neck or face.
What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
You’re a very silly person.
That’s not a question.
Do you live in a great house?
Contrary to popular belief, my house is merely adequate.
How would you categorize your ethical and moral perspective of people, creatures and societies?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Alright, now you’re just pissing me off.
You seem like a bit of a jokester.
That’s not a question either, but it is true. I don’t take myself too seriously – life is too short, in my opinion, to adhere to culture’s arbitrary and incredibly boring standards of propriety – but I do take my job very, very seriously. A solemn ceremony need not be without humor, and it’s an ingredient I do not neglect. But getting the timing, the proportion and the content right takes a certain je ne sais quoi that I’m proud to say I’ve got. In summation: backstage, I’m a cut-up – onstage, I’m a pro.