Weddings 101

The steps to the wedding of your dreams

Our booking process

Initial consultation
We want you to feel totally comfortable booking our services, which is why we offer a free, no-obligation consultation with your officiant before you ever sign a contract.

We typically conduct these initial consultations via Google Meets, FaceTime, or phone, but if you would prefer to meet the officiant in person somewhere near their residence you can make those arrangements.

We will hold your wedding date for 14 days after you’ve been matched with one of our officiants, so you will have plenty of time to speak with them and make a decision before you need to sign a contract.

Planning meeting
Once you’ve signed your contract and paid the fees, your officiant will be in touch to schedule a planning meeting. This meeting normally happens in person, but it can also be done virtually or phone call as well.

Your Officiant will ask you questions about what you feel is important to include in your ceremony and get to know the two of you and learn about your relationship. This session will include your officiant getting you acquainted with our Client Portal and Ceremony Creator.

Ceremony editing
Following your planning meeting, you will be able to access the Ceremony Creator to begin making choices for your wedding ceremony!

You can revise your draft ceremony as much as you’d like until it is the exact wedding ceremony you want. We will have access to your progress via our Officiant Portal. They will be able to assess your progress and assist you as needed. We want your wedding ceremony to be perfect – if you need additional suggestions or guidance, we are always ready to help!

The ceremony!
Your officiant will arrive at your wedding about an hour early to help coordinate with your attendants and vendors and get ready for the processional. We are more than happy to work with other wedding professionals, and are perfectly comfortable with photographers taking pictures anywhere they would like during the ceremony.

Your Officiant will deliver the exact ceremony you’ve planned, and create a wonderful experience for you and your guests.

The marriage license
Although it’s your responsibility to get the marriage license before the wedding, your Officiant will take care of signing it afterward and mailing it to the proper location. You’ll also get a copy of the license for you to keep, in case you need it for your records or on your honeymoon.

Wedding themes

Now, it’s time to decide on one of the most critical components of your special day: the theme. Finding the right theme for your wedding can be as difficult as selecting the perfect dress, but we’re going to help you have a little fun along the way.

Choosing a theme isn’t exactly a piece of (wedding) cake, so we’ve put together a list of creative motifs to inspire you. Take a look at the list below, or come up with a theme of your own!

A bride and groom in front of a van, about to elope on their wedding
Ambush Wedding

You've heard stories of celebrities flying their friends to exotic island vacations that are really for their secret destination wedding. While avoiding paparazzi is a great reason to have an ambush wedding, there are equally great reasons for non-celebrities to surprise their friends.

Because it is not a “traditional” wedding, you have much more leeway on what wedding traditions you want to keep. By keeping the affair simple, you cut the amount of planning down, way down!

If you also like to travel and do not want to deal with orchestrating a surprise event, then eloping still remains a popular option for an intimate and easy affair.

Bride and groom in a barn
Barn Jamboree

You've heard stories of celebrities flying their friends to exotic island vacations that are really for their secret destination wedding. While avoiding paparazzi is a great reason to have an ambush wedding, there are equally great reasons for non-celebrities to surprise their friends.

Because it is not a “traditional” wedding, you have much more leeway on what wedding traditions you want to keep. By keeping the affair simple, you cut the amount of planning down, way down!

If you also like to travel and do not want to deal with orchestrating a surprise event, then eloping still remains a popular option for an intimate and easy affair.

Bride and groom hugging on the beach standing in the sea water
Beach Wedding

A wedding by the water calls for less stress and more bubbles! Maybe you don’t care about the latest styles and trends. Perhaps you just want to relax, unwind, and have a great time. If that’s the case, why not head to the beach? Beach weddings are extremely popular for the too-cool-to-care kind of couple and the setting practically mandates that everyone has a good time.

There’s nothing quite like saying, “I do,” with your toes in the surf. So, make it a casual affair with bare feet or flip-flops, skirts or short dresses for the ladies and short-sleeved shirts for the guys. After the ceremony, gather around a fire pit for an oyster roast, or head inside to a beach-front club for drinks and dancing.

A couple on a cliff in Bali
Extreme Wedding

Extreme couples, how about racing to the altar — literally? Are you and your betrothed the kind of people who throw themselves out of airplanes for fun? Does spending quality alone time with your sweetie usually involve scuba gear or skis and a helicopter? If so, you might consider bailing on your plans for normal nuptials and make your wedding as extreme as the two of you are.

It’s unlikely that the rest of your wedding party will be willing (or have room) to get into that hot air balloon with you or that any guests will be up for hiking Mt. Everest just to hear you say “I do.” However, you can always select an indoor reception area that can give your guests a taste of what you’re experiencing.

The event room at an aquarium, for example, would be well-suited for underwater ceremonies, and a cliff-top restaurant would be a great place for your guests to hang out while you wed on the summit of a nearby mountain. You can even hook up an Internet broadcast of your vows so the rest of your wedding party can witness the event. Meet them at the party after you land, climb down or swim up to the surface.

The decision is ultimately up to you. Don’t worry about making it too extreme! We can meet you anywhere and everywhere. You just tell us where and when! The more extreme, the more fun! So – what can you come up with?

Couple walking through snow
Fairytale Wedding

The perfect day for a princess bride includes champagne and a handsome prince. Have you been searching for the perfect tiara since childhood? Are you pining for a celebration that would put Cinderella’s ceremony to shame? You don’t actually have to be royalty to feel like a princess for a day.

Go for the full-skirted wedding gown, top-tier plated dinners, a giant chocolate fondue fountain and a ceiling-high wedding cake. Rent out a ballroom to fit hundreds of guests, hire a small orchestra to provide the music, and take off with Prince Charming in a limo after the reception.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to you and your dream, fairytale wedding. When you close your eyes, what do you dream? We want to make that a reality!

A couple dancing
Flash Wedding

A flash wedding is a twist on the quirky flash mob performances that have been popping up in public squares, shopping malls, and YouTube channels around the world for the past few years. In a flash wedding, the bride, groom, officiate, wedding party and guests gather quietly in a public place to perform a quick wedding ceremony before dispersing to a reception or after-party.

Flash weddings are unique, fun and quick; but, most importantly, they can save the bride and groom big money! You can say goodbye to the big costs associated with the venue, decor, and ceremony music–while still having a memorable and beautiful day in a free, public space, the possibilities are endless!

Couple in a forest creek
Great Outdoors

Have you always loved nature? Maybe that’s where you and your significant other connect best? Why not take your once-in-a-lifetime ceremony out where you are most comfortable–in the great outdoors.

Invite guests to bring their tents as you say your vows in a large wildflower field. For the reception, bring some speakers and groove to the beat as you dance the night away under the starts. Cozy up by the fire as you eat s’mores and swap stories with family and friends.

Of course, these are all just suggestions. Create your own dream experience. Nothing is impossible.

Day of the Dead masks in Mexico
Macabre Wedding

If the idea of big, white dresses and sugary, sweet wedding cake makes you shudder, you might find inspirations off the beaten path. In fact, what gives you that bridal glow might be what makes others shudder! Sure, some might find it kind of creepy to exchange vows surrounded by carved pumpkins or sylized skulls, but for a creative couple with a wicked sense of humor, a macabre wedding theme can be light, festive and – believe it or not – fun!

Love Halloween? Really dig the Mexican Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)? If you have tastes that run a little dark, this theme might suit you perfectly. Plan a fall wedding, preferably in late October or early November. For Halloween-themed nuptials, incorporate festive accents like Jack-o-Lantern table markers and a bouquet made from orange tulips or pansies. Day of the Dead celebrants should showcase vibrant colors in the decor, as this holiday is incredilby rich in color. It’s also about tradition, family, and having a good time–not unlike a common wedding.

Indian couple wearing superheroes' masks and robes
Novelty Geek Wedding

Did you meet your betrothed during a Halo death match? Did you share your first intimate moment while watching Han and Leia kiss? Have you both already requested time off work when the next Star Trek movie comes out? If so, you might want to geek up your vows with a novelty-themed wedding.

It can be anything you want. Dress up as Han and Leia, get married on a makeshift Starship Enterprise, or eat a delicious cake as your favorite princess and red-wearing plumber.

Civil Ceremony Basics

Don’t want a religious wedding? Get married in civil style

And you thought a civil ceremony meant high-tailing it to City Hall or Vegas! You could tie the knot either of those ways, but more and more couples today are choosing to have secular ceremonies in traditional ways–before their nearest and dearest, at a serene setting, like on the beach or in a garden, or at their fabulous reception site.

Why have a Civil Ceremony?

Couples who opt for civil ceremonies usually fall into one of the following groups:

  • Neither person is religious or subscribes to an organized religion, or they feel uncomfortable with the idea of a religious ceremony.
  • The bride and groom have religion come from different religious backgrounds, so they choose the civil route to avoid potential problems with interfaith ceremonies. (But know that interfaith ceremonies are increasingly more common and not the headache they were once considered!)
  • Your ideal ceremony is more creative than clergy will allow. For example, maybe you want secular poems and prose read; you want rock songs for your processional and recessional; or you want to include Native American and Buddhist rituals.

Who officiates?

Your officiant must be able to legally perform your wedding (i.e., offiially sign your marriage license). A justice of the peace is one choice, but a judge, magistrate, county or court clerk, mayor, or notary public can also officiate. (Contrary to popular belief, a cruise-ship catain cannot automatically officiate a wedding; he must hold one of the above civil titles). You can also have a secular ceremony performed by a licensed member of a group, like the Ethical Humanist Society–he or she will not “bless” your wedding in a traditional sense, but will most likely be open to readings and traditions you want to include.

How do they differ?

Most civil ceremonies bypass Christian traditions, like communion, or Jewish traditions, like the seven blessings. Still, your officiant may let you include some religious rituals to make your families happy. Otherwise, a secular ceremony has the same basic structure as a religious one: procession, call to order/opening remarks, vows, ring exchange and other unity gestures, pronouncement (“I now pronounce you husband and wife”), kiss, closing remarks, and recession. You can include special readings and musical selections, if you like, or keep it short and sweet.

5 tips for a smooth ceremony

  1. Keep it simple. Choose an all-in-one venue. Some sites, such as historic homes, hotels, and country clubs, have the space to let you hold your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception all in one location. This makes transportation a snap–and no lost guests.
  2. Honor your relatives. Give close family members and friends that you couldn’t include in the wedding party a job for the ceremony. Have them be a reader, help you with the programs, or give a blessing after you’ve said your vows.
  3. Incorporate nature. Instead of bringing in extra lighting and floral arrangements, take advantage of your surroundings by using outdoor elements. Think seashells for a beach ceremony or fall leaves for an autumn wedding.
  4. Consider your transitions. Come up with a plan for handling the in-between times. If your ceremony and reception are taking place at one venue, transition guests with an exit strategy. One idea: before the ceremony, ask attendants or ushers to hand each guest a candle on the way into the ceremony, then have them give guests a handful of rose petals to toss after the ceremony.
  5. Beat the heat. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding in a warm climate, make sure that your guests are taken care of. Get double-duty wedding programs shaped like fans; hand each guest a glass of sparking water at the entrance of the ceremony space; and provide parasols to help block the sun.

License Directions

State-specific considerations for marriage licenses

NOTE: These directions should not be regarded as legal advice. It’s best to consult an attorney who specializes in family law with any questions.

The process of getting a marriage license in Pennsylvania is fairly simple.

Required documents

To obtain a marriage license, both applicants must appear at a county courthouse in person with the following:

  • Driver’s License or photo I.D. which shows your date of birth.
  • Your social security number (your social secuirty card is preferred, but if unavailable, please provide in written form).
  • You will need to know your mother’s maiden names, your parent’s current address, the state where your parents were born, and your parent’s occupations.
  • $45.00 filing fee (cash only).
  • If either applicant is divorced, or divorced more than once, they must bring in your latest divorce decree. If either spouse resumed their maiden name (or birth surname) after the divorce, they must submit proof of resumption.
  • If your prior marriage was terminated by death, you must provide the death certificate, or at least a copy of the death certificate, as to your former spouse.

Waiting and validity periods

There is a three-day waiting period between the application and the issuance of license and either applicant can pick up the license after the three-day waiting period.

Your license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance and it can only be used in Pennsylvania.

Underage applicants

If either applicant is under 18 years of age, the consent of the custodial parent or Guardian is necessary. The applicant’s original birth certificate is required. There will be an additional $10.00 fee for each underage applicant.

If either applicant is under the age of 16, the consent of the Court must be obtained.

Where to obtain a license

You can obtain a marriage license through any county courthouse. To locate a courthouse visit statelibrary.pa.gov.

Non-Pennsylvania residents may also secure a license in our office, but the license can only be used in Pennsylvania.