The process of selecting a Justice of the Peace should begin just after you have chosen a wedding date and confirmed your location. Just like popular wedding venues, in-demand officiants book weddings nine to twelve months and sometimes more than a year in advance. Follow the steps below to find a JP or visit a related link to learn more.
How do you find the perfect JP for your wedding?
7 Steps to Find a JP
Here are seven steps to follow that will help to ensure that the JP you choose is the right one for you.
Talking together about the kind of ceremony you envision and the characteristics of the JP who will officiate is an important first step in the process. Like most major decisions you will face in marriage, coming to a consensus about your goals ensures that you are on the same track.
Factors regarding the ceremony:
- Does either of you want to include religious elements in the ceremony?
- Will you write your own vows?
- Will you exchange rings?
- Will your parents or other relatives be part of the ceremony?
Factors regarding the officiant:
- Does either of you have a gender preference?
- Is the age of the JP important?
- Does experience count?
- Does the JP “get” your vision for the ceremony or is s/he eager to help you create one?
Answers to these questions, though not written in stone, can go a long way to selecting the JP who is right for you. It’s a good idea to write down your criteria as a check list for when you evaluate prospective JPs.
Start your search in the region where your wedding will take place and read what the JPs in that region say. It’s hard to make a decision from the limited information included, but go with your first impressions. JPs in most states are authorized to officiate anywhere in the state so extend your search beyond the immediate region if you like. Selecting three to five prospects to follow up with should be sufficient.
Where can you get a list of JPs? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Depending on the state where you’ll marry, findaJP.com may be the best source for officiants. If your state is covered by findaJP, start here!
If your state is not yet on findaJP, please consult “Why Is My State Not Listed?” for tips on finding an officiant in your state.
For information purposes, each state covered by findaJP.com, along with states open to JPus Membership, list “rules” for obtaining a marriage license. It is advisable to read these “rules” along with the information provided about Wedding Officiant in each state before deciding on a JP.
Contact the JPs on your list, preferably first by email. The email should provide, at minimum, the date and location of your event will enable the JP to quickly decline if s/he’s not available. Mention anything else on your list that you’ve decided are crucial prerequisites for choosing a JP. For instance, if it’s important that your wedding is the only one performed by the JP on that date, say so now. If things click, talk on the phone. Exchange some more information. If the JP remains a hot prospect, schedule a meeting, which will most likely be at the JP’s home. Get good directions and don’t be late!
This is probably the most important step. If you have done a good job so far, it won’t be difficult. In fact, it should be easy! You want to feel comfortable with your JP at the very least. Is s/he eager and able to satisfy your desires for the ceremony – its length, the participants, any rituals or traditions you want to be included? Conversely, if you haven’t gotten this far in the planning, is s/he a source of ideas? Will s/he be easy to work with?
Remember that the officiant you choose will be saying the words that will seal possibly the most important relationship of your lives. When you think back on your ceremony in years to come, the JP will be in the picture. If you feel simpatico and your questions have been answered, it is appropriate to discuss fees.
We’ve all heard the phrase,“You get what you pay for.” Although couples understand this when they select their wedding cake, flowers, music, attire, etc., when it comes to JP fees, in most states there are no established standards and it can be difficult to know what’s fair and equitable. Although many professional JPs charge fees commensurate with their time and services, other JPs are reluctant to place a monetary value on their role because they enjoy it so much. The bottom line is, if you can afford the fee your chosen JP charges, go for it! It’s your marriage ceremony! Don’t let $$$ stand in the way of choosing your perfect JP.
Using the criteria you established in step 1, make your choice. After you have made your choice, let any other JPs who were under consideration know of your decision.
Most JPs will ask you to confirm your agreement in writing. You will probably be asked for a deposit or a fee to reserve your wedding date. Your agreement should specify payment terms.