Information For Wedding
Officiants and Ministers
have a question for us? Below, we've included a list of the most common
questions we receive, but you can contact us at any time by
I can obtain a ministerial credential elsewhere for free. Why should I
pay for ordination through First Nation?
A: To be blunt,
you get what you pay for. While the basic Internet "wedding
minister credential" will be accepted in many states, the American
Council of Wedding Officiants credential, which includes
ordination as a ceremonial minister through First Nation Church,
is accepted in virtually every local jurisdiction across the
United States. (Ordination by First Nation Church is legal and
valid anywhere in the world.) Beyond that, the nominal
administrative fee includes full membership in ACWO, with an
average of about $1.35 per month.
Please note that some
locations, including Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia, Hawaii and New
York City, have additional registration requirements that must be
handled separately with local officials. You should familiarize yourself
with your local regulations
prior to requesting your credential through any service.
PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
ON FREE ORDINATION!
Q. I'm being told by my
County Clerk that my wedding minister credentials are not valid. What
should I do?
A. Please contact
us immediately. Often, a local official may not recognize your
credential due to an internal policy. Internal policies are not
laws, and, as part of our commitment to you, we do everything
possible to cut through any red tape you may run into. Please be
assured that this is a rare circumstance, and you will generally
not encounter any bureaucratic obstacles.
Q. What documents are
included in my credentials package?
A. A listing of
the documents that are included in our
complete wedding minister ordination package
may be viewed by clicking here.
PLEASE NOTE that other ordination services may
require you to pay an additional fee for some of the documents
that are included at no extra charge from First Nation Ministry.
Q: I understand
that Virginia is very strict regarding who can perform marriage
ceremonies there. What does First Nation have to say about this?
You are correct -- Virginia does put up numerous hurdles for
ceremonial ministers hoping to serve in the Commonwealth. However,
Virginia law also provides a significant workaround that perfectly
covers situations such as this.
Code of Virginia § 20-31
("Belief of parties in lawful marriage validates certain defects")
states that "No marriage solemnized under a license issued in this
Commonwealth by any person professing to be authorized to
solemnize the same shall be deemed or adjudged to be void, nor
shall the validity thereof be in any way affected on account of
any want of authority in such person, or any defect, omission or
imperfection in such license, if the marriage be in all other
respects lawful, and be consummated with a full belief on the part
of the persons so married, or either of them, that they have been
lawfully joined in marriage."
What does this mean?
Quite simply, if the ceremonial minister is legally and lawfully
ordained (which First Nation ministers are, in accordance with
Virginia law) and if the bridal couple accepts him or her as their
officiant to solemnize their marriage license, then the marriage
is completely legal in the eyes of the Commonwealth.
Our Virginia information
page is at:
Q: As ordained clergy, what
title may I use when referring to myself?
A: You may use any
title that you are legally permitted to use, including Reverend,
Minister, Deacon, Brother, Sister, etc. However, you may not use
any title, such as Doctor, that you are not entitled to use unless you
have had the degree or professional standing conferred upon you.
fiancé cannot be present at the wedding. Are proxy marriages acceptable?
A: A proxy
marriage is one where someone stands in for the absent party, or
where the absent party participates via telephone or video
conference (including Skype). Under the bylaws of First Nation
Church, if one of the parties to the marriage is unable to attend
for any reason, including military service, incarceration in jail
or prison or inability to travel, the couple may designate another
person to stand in for the absent person. The standard
from First Nation Church is acceptable for proxy marriages.
For a proxy
marriage to be legally recognized, the signature of each
party to the marriage must be witnessed by two adults
who must be present. The proxy (person standing in for
the absent party) and the Officiant may not sign as
APPLY FOR YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE ONLINE
Can you recommend a standard ceremony that I can incorporate for a
A: If you prefer a traditional approach, the most common ceremony
"scripts" are derived from traditional sources, including the
Anglican Wedding Ceremony (1662) and the
Book of Common Prayer Wedding Ceremony (1945). While the former has
largely fallen into disuse — mostly because the bride declares that she
will "obey" her husband — both form the structure from which many
current ceremonies are derived. You may also search the Internet for
"wedding ceremonies" (we suggest using
Google) to find an
assortment of scripts that others may have used.
Q: What is the standard
structure of a wedding ceremony?
A: Most weddings follow basically the same format, with minor
adjustments here and there depending upon the desires of the
bridal couple. That format includes:
Ushers seat the guests (accompanied by prelude music selections)
Special wedding music begins
Mothers/parents/VIPs enter and light candles/candelabras
Parents of the Bride and Groom are seated
The Minister/Officiant and Groom enter and proceed to the front
The Bridal Party enters and proceeds to the front
The Ring Bearer and/or Flower Girl enter, proceed to front
Music concludes for Bridal Party
Ushers unroll the aisle runner
The Minister/Officiant asks the audience to rise and welcome the
Music begins for the Bride’s entrance (Processional music)
The Bride and her escort enter, and are met by the Groom
Bride’s music concludes
Opening commentary by Minister/Officiant
Bride and Groom light "family candles" to represent their families
Bride and Groom present flowers to parents and/or VIPs
"Declarations Of Intent" by Bride and Groom
First reading (religious or romantic literature)
Musical interlude (solo, etc.)
Special music (musical interlude, or musical and vocal performance)
Exchange of wedding vows (traditional or customized)
Blessing of the rings
Exchange of wedding rings
Minister/Officiant's prayer or blessing
for the Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom light Unity Candle (music in background)
Bride and Groom kiss
Introduction of the new couple by the
Recessional music begins
Bride and Groom exit
Bridal party exits and forms reception line
Minister/Officiant's instructions to the audience
Audience departs for reception
Q: What is the standard
charge for an Officiant's services?
A: Although there is no set fee for services as an Officiant, the
American Council of Wedding Officiants suggests the following guidelines
in establishing prices:
BASIC SERVICE: $100-$250
to 15 minute ceremony
in-person meeting/rehearsal prior to ceremony
Discuss details over phone prior to ceremony date
to 20 minute ceremony
Phone discussion and/or personal consultation meeting prior to
Present at rehearsal (approx. 15 minutes) if required
Pre-written vows/ceremony "script" provided if required
FULL SERVICE: $500 and up
Formal ceremony of 20 minutes or more
One-hour personal consultation meeting with couple
Phone consultation if required
Present at rehearsal/walk-through if requested
Custom vows/ceremony "script" to couple's specifications
The Officiant is generally
responsible for his or her basic transportation to and from the ceremony
location. Any additional travel charges (such as air or rail fare)
required beyond basic transportation are generally the responsibility of
the wedding couple; please be certain that you discuss any such charges
with the couple prior to settling your account with them.
Q: What is considered
appropriate dress for an Officiant?
A: The Officiant
must remember at all times that he or she is the presiding
authority in attendance at the ceremony, and as such should
conduct himself/herself in a professional manner at all times.
This conduct includes proper attire and grooming; treating the
proceedings with the highest level of respect and honor; and not
partaking in post-ceremony festivities or receptions unless
specifically invited to do so by the bride and groom.
Your dress for the ceremony
should be equivalent to the formality of the occasion, but you must
always confirm your attire plans with the couple prior to arriving for
the ceremony. If the couple has planned a formal black-tie wedding, you
are expected to dress accordingly; consequently, if the couple has
planned for an informal wedding on their favorite beach, you may be
expected to dress in a more casual manner. Under no circumstances should
you assume the preferences of the couple in regard to your attire and,
regardless of the formality of the ceremony, under no circumstances
should your attire be sloppy, soiled, torn or otherwise inappropriate to
The Officiant is permitted to
wear a dress suit (or business suit) while performing the ceremony, and
may wear, at his or her discretion, vestments, robes, cassocks,
paraments or other attire that distinguishes the Officiant as the
presiding authority at the ceremony. The Officiant may not wear
any attire or decorative device that may lead anyone to believe that he
or she is a member of a religious order or professional organization,
unless the Officiant is currently permitted to wear attire descriptive
of that order or organization; i.e., the Officiant may not wear a
Bishop's robes unless he or she is permitted to do so under the
authority of the church which has conferred this title.
Distinctive attire for
Officiants may be obtained from various sources, including
Robe, as well as local sources in your area.
Q: May I serve as Officiant
of a wedding involving same-sex partners?
A: If a wedding
between gay, lesbian or trans-gender partners is recognized as
being legal within the jurisdiction of the state, county or
municipality in which the marriage is taking place, you may
officiate at the ceremony. Please note that you alone are
responsible for complying with any federal, state or local laws
that may be in force regarding marriage.
First Nation Church and the
American Council of Wedding Officiants does not discriminate against any
person on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin,
religion, sexual orientation or age in the administration of its
policies, and it encourages its members to recognize and respect the
dignity of all persons served through our chosen vocation.
The American Council of
Wedding Officiants is affiliated with
First Nation Church, which believes that marriage is a contract
between two adults, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation,
and that marriage is based on love, and can not be limited by law.
Committed couples, whether straight, gay, lesbian or trans-gender, may
receive a marriage license through the church. For more information,
please click here.
Q: Does the Council
recognize gay, lesbian or transgender Officiants?
A. Yes. Any
person, male or female, regardless of their sexual or gender
orientation, over the age of 18 may
apply for certification as an Officiant.
First Nation Church is not a "gay church"; rather, we do not
discriminate against any person as many fundamentalist churches
you have questions that were not answered here?
Please contact us immediately!