Well, it’s official: my stepfather is legally allowed to marry people in the city and state of New York!
Yep, you heard that right, my stepfather is going to be our wedding officiant!
How did this come about, you may wonder? Well, as many of you may know, it can be pretty tough planning a wedding when you have divorced and remarried parents. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stepparents. I always say, why would I be upset to have four parents who love me instead of just two? However, wedding traditions can get a bit sticky when your family tree is anything but tall and straight.
It’s even tougher (and also more awesome!) when your stepfather has been around since you were 15 and has become a major parental figure in your life. Who walks you down the aisle? Who dances with you? Who contributes financially? It’s all very complicated.
I tossed around various ideas for months: maybe they could each walk me down the aisle halfway? Maybe one could do the aisle and one could do the dance? Maybe I could walk down the aisle with my mom or by myself and avoid the issue altogether? Nothing seemed right.
One day, an idea dawned on me as I remembered a story my stepfather once told me about getting himself registered to be a minister with the Universal Life Church way back in the ’70s on a lark. For those of you who don’t know, anyone can register with the ULC online in order to perform wedding ceremonies. It was how Joey was able to marry Monica and Chandler on Friends, for those of us Friends nerds out there.
The laws on whether or not ULC ordained ministers can legally perform wedding ceremonies vary widely from state to state, but most accept it with no problem and almost all accept it with a little bit of legwork. I did some research on New York State laws and most sources I came across said it wasn’t difficult at all, except in New York City — of course! I was really discouraged by what I read about how strict NYC is about registering officiants, but I am here to tell you it really wasn’t difficult at all!
If you are getting married in NYC and want the person of your choice to be able to marry you, all you have to do is:
1. Go to this site and register them with the ULC
2. Then visit the NYC Marriage Bureau site to fill out an online application and print the signature page; have your officiant sign it
3. Within three weeks, mail to the office the following required paperwork to 141 Worth St, NY, NY 10003:
- signed signature page
- $15 check for the NYC registration fee
- all the paperwork the ULC sends you — ordination certificate, verification letter, and copy of church’s articles of incorporation
- a photocopy of the officiant’s driver’s license
And voila! Your friend/family member/college roommate is legally allowed to officiate your civil ceremony!
For us, this is really exciting. We aren’t aligned with a particular faith, so we were having a hard time choosing an officiant in the first place. This allows us to have someone really meaningful to us do the marrying! It also gives my stepfather a role of honor in our big day. And it saved us about $250-300 just by not having to hire an officiant (dress money, hello?)! Possibly the coolest part is that it means we get to write our whole ceremony from start to finish to be exactly what we want it to be. Of course, the downside is that we get to write our whole ceremony! It’s been pretty overwhelming working on it, but I know it will be so incredibly rewarding when it’s all finished.
Who is marrying you? Will your officiant have special meaning to you? Would you consider having someone special to you do the honors?