Big wedding, small wedding, micro wedding, elopement – no matter how you celebrate it, everyone getting married needs to make it official with a ceremony. And as long as you’re saying “I do” in Rhode Island (as opposed to the very few states that allow you to self-solemnize your nuptials), you’ll need to select someone to officiate.
If you’re religious, the obvious choice is asking your minister, rabbi, or leader of your place of worship to officiate, but for couples looking for an alternative to a religious ceremony, one option is hiring a professional officiant or justice of the peace, a great choice for convenience and guidance. Because they’re professionals by trade, they’ll know how to fill out and file your marriage license, provide detailed questionnaires to craft a personalized ceremony for you, and sometimes even run your rehearsal for you, all for a fee.
No hired officiant could ever know you and your story quite like a close friend or family member, so for the couple seeking a truly personalized ceremony, why not ask someone who knows you best? Having someone close to you officiate is a huge honor and responsibility. If you decide to go this route, make sure that, first, you know that this person is very comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Then, once you’ve made your choice, it’s time to get them certified! Luckily, Rhode Island makes it easy – all you have to do is apply online via the Secretary of State’s website for a One Day Marriage Officiant Certification. You’ll need your marriage license on hand to do this so make sure you have that already.
Once you’ve filed that, you’re good to go, right? Not quite. You’re also going to need to design your ceremony – though it’s not as daunting as it sounds. A quick online search for ceremony scripts reveals everything from long to short and sweet services, “I-do” scripts, readings, and even songs to walk down the aisle to – it can be a lot to sift through. The main things that almost every wedding ceremony should have are a short story or introduction about the couple, vows, and a ring exchange. Even if you do nothing else to jazz it up, your vows are a great way to make it your own. Are you a private couple? Consider the “repeat after me” vows. More sentimental and love surprises? Try writing your own. If you’re considering personal vows but are afraid you won’t be present enough to actually register what your partner is saying, write your vows together in advance and practice them.
Once you decide which elements are important to you, research some sample scripts, put everything in an order that feels good to you, and practice it with your officiant – a few times – you’re ready to be wed!
Wedding photographer Meaghan D’Abrosca blogs about “How to Craft a Unique to You Wedding Ceremony,” with tips from her own wedding planning experience, and more on her website RhodeTripperPhotography.com, along with a workbook at RhodeTripperPhotography.com/ceremony-design-workbook.
Customs, Rituals, and Traditions
If it resonates with you and is culturally and spiritually appropriate to you and your SO, here are a few traditional elements you may consider weaving into your ceremony:
But First, Marriage License
Before scribing the perfect vows, gather up the needed documentation and apply for your marriage license. Find everything you need to know online, and if you have any questions, call the clerk’s office in the city or town hall where you’re applying. Health.RI.gov/records/about/marriagelicenses/
To apply for a One Day Marriage Officiant Certification, visit Services.SOS.RI.gov/OneDay/OneDayCertificate
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