Member Support

Articles to improve your JPus experience and maximize the power of your membership

Support Topic: Professional Development

Ceremony Length

When crafting the marriage ceremony, officiants must find the perfect balance between too much information and not enough.  Personalized, but not too intimate. And, of course, not too short, nor too long. To answer this last question, JPus surveyed professional officiants and asked, How long do you think a marriage ceremony should be? Following are the results of the survey. 15-20 Minutes ~ The Perfect Ceremony Length Our decision to omit the 15-20 minute option was deliberate, to force respondents to lean either shorter or longer. Our plan may have backfired, though, since officiants chose both the alternatives at practically . . .

Inclusive Terminology

Whether performing a marriage ceremony or just living our lives, we all want to be mindful of others so they feel included. Thinking about the words we choose and how those words make others feel is an important step to being more inclusive. One way of approaching this step is to use terms that define the relationship, rather than the gender. For example, say parent instead of mom/dad. Or, sibling instead of brother/sister.) The process of modifying our language can be awkward. That is okay. Don't shy away from it. Instead, embrace the discomfort. This will help you become more . . .

Unplugged Ceremonies

An important discussion to have with your couples is about the use of electronics. Do they want their guests to use them during the ceremony, or would they like everyone to unplug? As the leader of the ceremony, it is your responsibility to set the tone and convey your couple's wishes. If they are unsure about how to proceed, share with them this article about unplugged weddings. It will help them think through their options. How-To Say It Following is some suggested language to share your couple's wishes. Modify the message so it reflects your own style - and of . . .

Contracts Part 1 – Why they are Needed

There are many reasons why officiants should use a written agreement when working with couples. Yes, even if you think you don't need one. A contract or work agreement gives couples assurance that their marriage officiant won’t bail on them. Moreover, it also provides you with valuable protections. Clarifying Expectations Performing marriage ceremonies is a business, albeit a warm and fuzzy one. Therefore, laying out what each party can expect from the professional relationship sets expectations and avoids disappointments. Detailed suggestions to include in your agreement are available in the third article in this series. Minimize Disputes First of all, . . .

Contracts Part 2 – Presentation

Now that you understand why a written agreement is needed, this article provides tips to know how to present the content. Simple Language When crafting written agreements that you'll use with your couples, it is best to use simple language that everyone understands. A well-written contact will prevent problems, and be the tool to solve differences. NOLO, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses with legal guidance, says that most contracts need just two components to be legally valid: All parties agree on the terms Something of value is exchanged. For example, money is exchanged for a customized wedding service. . . .

Contracts Part 3 – Content

When creating the written agreement you'll use with your couples, think about the different scenarios that you might encounter. Then, make sure that you incorporate them within the document. To help, this article provides suggested content to include. Consider your agreement a living document. Meaning, revisit it regularly. With time you will think of additional points you'll want to mention. Wait! You don't think you need a written agreement? Check out our article Contracts Part 1 - Why they are Needed. Part 2 of our Contracts series discusses  how to structure the agreement, when to introduce it and different methods . . .

Contracts Part 4 – Retainers

You've connected with the couple and everything went terrific. Or, so you thought. You agreed upon the date and fees. You heard their love story and immediately the ideas started flowing. So, naturally you got right to work. Oh, the excitement. You could anticipate the emotions as the words rolled out. But then - an abrupt, "We've decided on a different officiant." Or worse, silence. Ghosted. When working with couples, it is important to protect your own interests. You are important. You bring skills and passion to your profession. Your time is valuable. Until you receive a signed agreement and . . .

Commitment Ceremonies

There are many reasons a couple may want a commitment ceremony without actually getting married. As a professional who performs all sorts of lifecycle ceremonies, of course you'll oblige. Why Not Tie the Knot? The particular reason a couple chooses not to make their union legally binding is peripheral. Despite that, it is important for officiants to understand some circumstances that could be driving decisions. Marriage is a legal act that may influence child support, alimony, divorce settlements One party is already married to another and for whatever reason cannot or will not end the previous marriage One or both . . .

Avoid Cancelation Crises

One never knows when the unexpected might happen. A family emergency, illness or an accident can interrupt even the most prepared person's plans. Inclement weather can create dangerous driving conditions. Indeed, there is no good answer when forced to choose between between safety and a commitment.  No matter the cause, having a plan will save everyone worry. [wcm_nonmember] This member support information is for JPus members only. If you have a membership, please log in. Purchase a membership here.[/wcm_nonmember][wcm_restrict plans="membership-plan-ultimate, membership-plan-region, membership-plan-neighborhood, membership-plan-hometown, membership-plan-basic"] Create a Network One of the many benefits of a Justice of the Peace Association membership . . .

Marriage is a Legal Contract

Sometimes, when couples become engaged, they are so full of love that they forget that marriage is a legal undertaking. This is an important recognition that sets the professional officiant apart. Along with ensuring that both parties are consenting to the union, it is good to be a knowledgeable resource about the implications of marriage. This doesn't mean that the officiant should be doling out legal or financial advice. Au contraire. Instead, when relevant, introduce the topic and direct the couple to do their own research. The following is a primer. Social Security Benefits The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program . . .

LGBTQ Couples Welcome!

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges made marriage equality the law of the land. Sadly, some marriage officiants continue to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary and queer couples. Indeed, sometimes loving couples share their painful stories about officiants refusing to perform their ceremony. With this in mind, letting LGBTQ couples know that you are inclusive can alleviate any unease they may have before they contact you. Code of Ethics Of course you welcome all couples. After all, you are a member of the Justice of the Peace Association. In other words, as a member . . .

Liability Insurance – Options

Oftentimes, members ask about liability insurance. And they should! In today’s litigious society, having insurance protects you. Plus, some wedding venues are now requiring it. Previously, we covered the different types of liability insurance and what each offers. At that time, membership was polled. In addition, we discussed the importance of insurance. Now, in this second article, we are providing specific resources to help our members secure coverage. Disclaimer The following information is intended to be a helpful resource to our members. With this in mind, users of this material agree to the following: The Justice of the Peace Association makes . . .

Liability Insurance – Who Me?

Updated May 1, 2021 More and more, we are hearing about wedding venues requiring marriage officiants to carry professional liability insurance. “Whaaa? Me? I’m just in-and-out. Barely there,” say some. “What could go wrong?” they ask. Well, really, any number of things could happen. It is wise to be protected. In light of this, following are some insurance basics. First, read through the background information we’ve prepared. JPus is doing the legwork, gathering particulars and checking out insurance providers. Our plan is to give members some more information to help you make the best decision for your circumstances and needs. Please . . .