Legal Marriage

Legal Marriage vs Marriage Ceremony

A common confusion when getting married is the distinction between the ceremony and the legal act of marrying. When we think of weddings, we tend to think of the legal and the ceremonial as being intertwined and integral to each other. While this is typically the case, it doesn’t have to be. Just the Paperwork Each state has very specific laws about who may officiate a marriage. There are also other technical details associated with the marriage license process. Similarly, each state determines what the officiant and couple need to say – or more accurately, what they don’t need to […]

I Do. Again and Again!

Are you a bride or groom having to choose whether to move forward with your wedding plans? Have you had to postpone and reconfigure?  If your answer is Yes, you’re not alone. Two Ceremonies Pandemic or not, couples have been celebrating their love and commitment more than once for a long time! In 1983, I got married in California. That is where I lived at the time. However, most of my family and friends were in New York. Want to know what we did?  We married twice! Two ceremonies, one on each coast. Double the fun, double the gifts, double […]

What Wedding Size is Right for You?

Image of large wedding party at outdoor wedding ceremony

Big venue or microwedding? Or, something in-between? Recognizing the pros and cons of different size weddings helps couples decide how they should proceed with their ceremony plan. It’s a balance. Many couples today want to move forward with their lives as a married couple as soon as possible. However, they also wish to have a wedding where they can celebrate their marriage with their loved ones. As a couple, they need to figure out what wedding size is best for them. Medium and Large Weddings Having a medium or large wedding creates opportunities for families to come together to strengthen […]

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too!

So, you are thinking of having a friend or family member officiate your wedding. That is, well, okaaaay. Kinda. Sort-of. Maybe? If you are determined to go down this path, we encourage you to hire a professional to make sure that at the end of your ceremony your marriage is legal. Yes, that is right. Legal. This is because up to 90% of amateur officiants make serious mistakes that can jeopardize health insurance, buying a home, or dare we say – divorce settlements. In the age of internet officiants, your bestie from college might seem like the way to go. […]

Make Sure your Wedding Ceremony Fits Your Circumstances!

How times change! Not so long ago, the idea of living together before marriage was socially unacceptable.  While some couples dared to try it, they dared not do so openly – for the judgment of society could be cruel.  Gay couples also were in jeopardy of social condemnation. In 2014, however, living together before marriage is the rule — the “new normal.”  And gay relationships too are becoming mainstream in the eyes of most Americans.  Often the old words and assumptions underlying the “traditional” wedding ceremony don’t work anymore and need to be updated. The outdated Victorian notions of the “virgin” bride and groom – and […]

Surprise Your Guests: Get Married!

After living together for 14 years, whenever we talked about getting married, the biggest obstacle was the wedding itself. My  kids were teenagers, his were married with young children of their own. After all this time living like an old married couple, we were embarrassed to make a big deal of it. Yet we wanted our friends and family to be present. On the Friday before a planned party to celebrate his 60th birthday with all the kids and a few friends coming, I had a light bulb moment. Here was the perfect opportunity to have it both ways! (He […]

The Rainbow Logo

One of the most meaningful wedding ceremonies I have performed as a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace was on Loon Mountain in September, with a panorama of the White Mountains before us. Rather than that priceless vista, however, it was the couple and our special connection that made it memorable. It all started when they came across a picture of me standing in front of a rainbow flag. The two women had wanted to be married for years but were stymied by the laws of their home state, North Carolina. When the US Congress repealed the infamous DOMA, the […]

Beyond “I Do”: Incorporating Religious Elements (or Not) in your Wedding Ceremony

If you are planning a wedding, you may be wondering which elements of your marriage ceremony are absolutely required by law and which are optional.  How much of the ceremony can you create from scratch to reflect your and your fiancé’s beliefs and sentiments? Saying “I do” before a person licensed by the State to marry you is all you need to get married. But that is not nearly enough for most couples. Most desire a much richer ceremony, one that is particularly meaningful to them.  And we Justices of the Peace are eager to help you fashion the wedding ceremony that you […]

What’s the Difference Between a Legal Marriage and a Wedding Ceremony?

Updated: Legal Marriage vs. Marriage Ceremony, published November 23, 2020 A bride-to-be posted a great question on Ask a JP because it gets at one of the most commonly confused facets of getting married: the distinction between the legal and the ceremonial. When we think of weddings, we tend to think of the legal and the ceremonial as being intertwined and integral to each other. While this is typically the case, it doesn’t have to be. Here in Connecticut we have very specific laws about who is eligible to marry, who may officiate a marriage, and other technical details associated […]