As each state has achieved marriage equality, there’s a wave same-sex couples rushing to legalize and formalize their relationships that follows.
And, if you are one of these blissful Arizona couples, you will need someone to officiate your ceremony. Here are 10 do’s and don’ts to follow as you look for a minister or officiant for your big day:
DO NOT expect that every ordained minister who is gay wants to marry you for free just because you’re gay, too. Although those who are ordained are happy to help you on your special day, it doesn’t mean you should be expected to take away time from their busy lives for free. Gay ordained ministers are professional too, and their time is valuable.
DO expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 for a ceremony. Some ministers charge by the hour and others by the service, so be sure to ask questions and find out up front what is customary for your minister.
DO NOT ask your minister to provide witnesses. When signing your marriage license, you will need an officiant and two witnesses to sign the document. If you do not have at least two friends who are willing to stand up with you and witness, you might reconsider getting married.
DO make friends with someone besides your Chihuahuas, your cats and your partner.
DO NOT feel insulted if the minister requires at least one pre-marital counseling session. The minister has a responsibility to the sanctity of marriage, their ordaining organization and the state to sign the certificate in good conscious that this union is viable and sustainable. It’s nothing personal.
DO get at least one session of pre-marital counseling. This small investment of time can save you large amounts of heartache, stress and money in the future. Counselors charge less per hour than divorce attorneys.
DO NOT expect your minister to plan and organize your ceremony. It’s YOUR ceremony; the minister is only there to provide a service of ceremony and documentation. Every couple is different in their ideas of what a ceremony should be. So if you don’t know what you want, don’t expect the minister to know for you.
DO get a wedding coordinator!
DO NOT ask an ordained minister to “just sign the marriage license”. They are not Notaries Public who just stamp and sign your much-anticipated piece of paper.
DO one stop shop at the Justice of the Peace if it’s just a legal document for you.
Last, but not least, DO your homework before jumping on the marriage equality bandwagon and DO respect everyone you’re involving in your marriage experience.