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
Q: I can obtain a ministerial credential elsewhere
for free. Why should I pay for certification through ACWO?
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 $15 per year.
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
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. Does the Council recognize gay, lesbian or
A. Yes. Any person, male or female, regardless of their sexual or
gender orientation, over the age of 18 may
certification as an Officiant. First Nation Church is not a "gay
church"; rather, we do not discriminate against any person as many
fundamentalist churches do.
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
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 Marriage License
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 witnesses.
FOR YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE ONLINE
Q: Can you recommend a standard ceremony that I can
incorporate for a wedding?
A: First Nation Church is a traditions-based Native American
church. As such, we recommend (but do not require) that you consider a
Cherokee wedding ceremony, or, at the very least, that you consider
including some elements in your ceremony.
The Cherokee wedding ceremony is a very beautiful and
moving event. For more information,
please click here.
If you prefer a more 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
to find an assortment of scripts that others may have used.
Q: What is the standard structure of a wedding
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:
seat the guests (accompanied by prelude music selections)
wedding music begins
enter and light candles/candelabras
of the Bride and Groom are seated
Minister/Officiant and Groom enter and proceed to the front
Bridal Party enters and proceeds to the front
Ring Bearer and/or Flower Girl enter, proceed to front
concludes for Bridal Party
unroll the aisle runner
Minister/Officiant asks the audience to rise and welcome the Bride
begins for the Bride’s entrance (Processional music)
Bride and her escort enter, and are met by the Groom
commentary by Minister/Officiant
and Groom light "family candles" to represent their
and Groom present flowers to parents and/or VIPs
Of Intent" by Bride and Groom
interlude (solo, etc.)
music (musical interlude, or musical and vocal performance)
of wedding vows (traditional or customized)
of the rings
of wedding rings
prayer or blessing for the Bride and Groom
and Groom light Unity Candle (music
and Groom kiss
of the new couple by the Minister/Officiant
and Groom exit
party exits and forms reception line
instructions to the audience
Audience departs for
Q: What is the standard charge for an Officiant's
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
5 to 15 minute ceremony
meeting/rehearsal prior to ceremony
Discuss details over
phone prior to ceremony date
STANDARD SERVICE: $275-$400
10 to 20 minute ceremony
Phone discussion and/or
personal consultation meeting prior to ceremony date
Present at rehearsal
(approx. 15 minutes) if required
vows/ceremony "script" provided if required
FULL SERVICE: $500 and up
Formal ceremony of 20
minutes or more
consultation meeting with couple
Phone consultation if
rehearsal/walk-through if requested
"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
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 occasion.
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
Artneedle Robe, as well as local sources in your area.
Q: May I serve as Officiant of a wedding involving
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
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
The American Council of Wedding Officiants is affiliated
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,
have questions that were not answered here?
Please contact us immediately!