I believe everyone has a reason for their actions. They might be silly reasons or they might be serious reasons. A great story is made up of a little of each.
A chance email leads to becoming an ordained minister
Becoming a wedding officiant, for me, started with becoming ordained. I received this email one very slow Saturday morning at a work back in 2002. It said something along the lines of “You Too! Can be an Ordained Minister! You can marry people! You can bury people! You can perform naming ceremonies!” I thought it was hysterical! Just the way it sounded. I kept saying it out loud and laughing. I soon had just about everyone around me laughing too.
Google was alive and well in 2002 but online transactions, not so much. I had to print out the application, fill it out by hand, write a check for $19.95 and mail it to the Progressive Universal Life Church. A few weeks later, I received a certificate that that states I was ordained as of March 29, 2002. I also received all sorts of information as to how I could pay for other “certificates.” I was rather content with just being an ordained minister, and still, am.
So, Why did that email make me want to be a wedding officiant?
A priest made me do it. And the story begins.....
It started with a Green Card
My husband was born in Germany. He came to the US on a student visa for 18 months. We worked in the same hotel. He is a chef and I was a pastry chef at the time. (He’s still a chef.) I always say his visa expired but we didn’t. I moved to Germany with him and a month later we got engaged. A few months later it was pretty clear we would be moving back to the US. We made plans to get married in Germany, apply for a Green Card, move back to the US and have a formal wedding in the church I grew up in.
Separation of Church and State
In Germany, EVERYONE has to be married by a state official. They have a complete separation of Church and State. Being married is a legal procedure and it’s overseen by the State. If you want to get married in a church, that’s your business. Priests and ministers in Germany are not authorized to perform legal marriages. Many couples will get legally married on a Friday and then in their church on Saturday. It’s very logical.
Throw logic out the window!
Fast forward 6 months after our German wedding. We are back in the US and planning our formal wedding The church was reserved, we were printing invitations, the venue was booked, menu chosen. Everything was running smoothly. Then, we went to meet with the priest. Not a Catholic priest. An Episcopal priest. You know, the really, really, open, liberal, Episcopal church… Well, this priest was their conservative black-sheep poster child. He had a love for power and was always looking for ways he could flex it.
The priest explained to us that he understood that separation of Church and State in Germany. If we had been in Germany, we would have had a wedding. BUT, since the US does not have a separation of Church and State the Episcopal Church in the US recognizes our legal marriage, no church wedding was necessary. He said we would have a “blessing of the marriage.” He went on to say that I was not allowed to wear white, because I was no longer a virgin, and that my dad was not allowed to walk me down the aisle. He insisted on proof-reading our invitations to make sure they said “marriage blessing” and even went so far as to insist on approving the translation of our wedding vows into German. Not that he was fluent in German, he took some classes in College. He also insisted we have pre-marital counseling - which made no sense.
Yes, that happened. Interestingly enough, a friend wore a white wedding dress when she and her husband renewed their vows with the same priest for their 50th wedding anniversary. I’m thinking she wasn’t a virgin either.
A month after our wedding, my mom hosted a priest from out of town in her home who went on and on how her brother married a German woman and she performed their church wedding in the US and just how common it is. So, yes, our Priest was just being misusing his power.
I remember going to the nursery in that church. I remember every Sunday School class growing up. I sang in the choir for years. I was an acolyte. I was the head acolyte. I went to church several times a week. When I grew up and got a job I tithed my own money to that church. The praise band was providing the music. The acolyte leader from my childhood was a photographer and he was taking the pictures. Half the guest list was church members. It wasn’t like I could just go someplace else.
Well, I’m a practical person. So is my dad. It wasn’t the end of the world. I had already purchased an off-white dress because white really is not my color. Everything was already in place. We bowed down to the priest's ego and just went with it.
And then he did what?
The day of the wedding, while we were all lined up for the receiving line, the priest actually took the dagger and dug it in deeper. He looked at me with fire in his eyes and said “Gee, it could have all been proper if we had just done all of this in Germany!” Like, he somehow thought that we were going to do all of this in Germany? He even insinuated that we should have had HIM come to Germany to perform the wedding! LOL!!! Like we had deprived him of an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany. My parents weren’t even at our German wedding. It really seemed more practical to have them come and visit when we could actually vacation together as well. After all, we were having a big church wedding in our own church!
The priest went on to become incredibly intoxicated at the reception. Like, embarrassingly drunk. 6 months later, a friend was having a wedding at the church. A different priest performed her ceremony and it was a simple reception in the church hall. The priest walked through the reception (uninvited) and stopped and said to me “ Well, Victoria, we haven’t seen you here since your marriage blessing! Too bad you couldn't have had a proper wedding!”
Yes, that happened.
I'm done. And so is he.
I never did go back to that church for anything more than a funeral or a wedding. That priest moved on. His hunger for power took him all the way to becoming a bishop. When the Episcopal church started allowing homosexuals to have leadership roles in the church he protested. He tried to lead a separation of the church. He was eventually asked to leave the church. They fired him. They finally fired him after he had destroyed so much in his megalomaniac quest for power.
How can I make this better?
So, I decided that I would become a wedding officiant that will marry anyone anyway they want to be married. I’ve had some 9-month-pregnant brides absolutely glowing in their white wedding dresses. Gay and want to be married? Step right up! I was performing commitment ceremonies before gay marriage was legal in Indiana. The very first bride that hired me to perform her wedding chose me because she has a gay brother in San Francisco and I’m LGBTQ friendly. I think I may have married one or two virgins over the years.
I now have the power to help couples have the wedding ceremony they want. That makes me happy.
More interesting powers an online ordination can give you.
When I received that email about ordination it touched more than just my funny bone that morning. It was actually a rather deep moment on many levels.
I spent most of my life up until that moment in search of God and spirituality. I had spent my childhood and young adulthood extremely active in a church. My interest in church sort of fizzled out in my early 20’s but my search for God and spirituality continued. One of my favorite subjects, even to this day, is how each individual relates to God. Even atheists interest me. I’ve attended many different churches, attended different spiritual groups, learned to channel, explored past lives, all sorts of things. What I really liked that particular day, and still like about the idea of this random “online ordination,” is that it gives that randomness something legitimate.
Freedom of Religion
Churches that ordain ministers online are the epitome of the practice of freedom of religion in America. People decided that they would create a church that basically allows you to do anything in the name of religion. Instead of having to jump through hoops and having to adhere to generations of rules followed by large religious organizations, online ordinations give you the power to write your own rules and create your own church or religion and be legitimately recognized by the State. That’s really powerful, and I like that power.
A brief interlude here about being ordained online...
I was moved by the ability to get ordained online originally in 2002. The leading online church - The Universal Life Church - is still quite dedicated to the freedom of religion. The fact that just about every state allows online-ordained ministers to legally perform a wedding ceremony has turned online ordination into big business. There are online churches that have been formed for the sole purpose of ordaining ministers to perform marriages. There are other churches that ordain ministers and also profit from those seeking to simply perform marriages. You can’t fault them for that. (Geeze, if the market wasn’t saturated, I’d be looking into it!) I was actually ordained twice online.The first church folded. They said I was ordained for life... But just in case, I did it again.
To all the people who were raised in churches and have outgrown them but don’t exactly know how to get married in a way that truly expresses who you are: I want to marry you. I want you to have the wedding you want - even if you don’t know what that is yet. I want to help you find your happy medium. To make you and your religious families happy.
To all the couples that don’t “Fit” into wedding traditions: I want to be your Wedding Officiant. One thing we know, on your wedding day, the two of you fit together. That’s all that matters. I want you to know that as you exchange vows and go through the ceremonial act of marriage, you are doing it exactly as you wish.
I’ve got the ordination. Now what?
I’ve got the ordination. Now what? Is it really possible to perform wedding ceremonies?
I set out to find out if I could legally officiate weddings in Delaware, the state where I was living at the time. I found out I definitely could. Then I had to figure out the business end of it. Legally setting up a business seemed a little complicated at the time. My day job was slow at that moment but it picked up a few months after that and I didn’t think too much more about seriously starting a wedding officiant business. My day job involved working on Saturdays so there was no point.
What made me finally become a wedding officiant?
Between 2002 and 2009 I got pregnant, stopped working at that job, had a baby, moved out of that state, moved again to a different state, got pregnant again, moved yet again to another state, had another baby and found myself alone in a whole new state with two little kids, a husband working over 60 hours a week and we were at the end of our Visa credit limit.
Because my husband works so much, my older son only understood “working” as being away all the time. At that age, with his sleep schedule, my son went days without seeing his dad. When he heard I might go to work he, understandably, freaked out. We have no family where we live and had no realistic child care options at the time so I needed to find something to do where I could earn money and be a full-time mom too.
It came to me like in a dream….
Somehow, I remembered that I was ordained and I wondered if becoming a wedding officiant in Indiana was even possible. Indiana is a lot more conservative than Delaware. It’s the East Coast vs. the Bible Belt. Those two places are different in so many ways.
It took a little searching but I found the piece of paper that said I was ordained. I did an internet search and it looked like I could perform weddings in Indiana. I thought about it a little and found the courage to call the local county clerk’s office to ask if it was true, could I perform weddings?
It seemed waaaaay too easy...
When I asked the county clerk if my ordination was legal they said it was. It seemed waaayyyy too easy. I said, “I’m online ordained, not Baptist or Methodist.” They said that was fine. I asked if I needed to register with them. They said no. I asked if they needed to see the paper that said I was actually ordained? They said no. Finally, I asked, “are you sure?” The response was, “Oh honey, we don’t care who signs that paper, we just make sure all the lines are filled out.” And there it was. True story. I’ve performed over 3000 weddings and I’ve never been asked to prove I’m an ordained minister by anyone in authority. A few couples have asked me to prove it, but that’s it.
In Indiana, as a sole proprietorship, I didn’t have to form a formal business in the beginning. Even now, as an LLC I’m still a sole proprietorship. My husband and I file our taxes together. He pays taxes all year long and we generally equal each other out in the end. Maybe it was that easy 16 years ago in Delaware too but it’s like everything just worked out here in Indiana at exactly the right time to make this happen.
For ZERO dollars down!
Having zero dollars to invest, I created a free website and found a free online wedding vendor guide to place a free ad. You can still create a very minimal free website but the wedding business is now ENORMOUS! Free online ads are still available but they don’t do much in comparison to the paid listings. That first website I advertised on no longer exists. I don’t even remember what my first website was called. I went through a few changes before I finally settled on Marry Me In Indy! And it was a few more years before I became an LLC.
I have built a very successful business. I have paid off that Visa bill and paid for braces and a lot more dental work and health insurance among other things. Being a wedding officiant is a very good part-time job. For many years, it’s been my full-time job. You could consider it a “side-hustle” but I don’t really like that term. Yes, you can start a legitimate business making money as a wedding officiant. I just don’t like the word “hustle” when it comes to weddings. While weddings really are BIG business and millions of dollars are being spent each year on all sorts of weddings, I don’t really think of my business as a “Side-Hustle” or a “Full-Time Hustle.” I may be in the minority or a really bad business person, but it’s still a wedding ceremony. For many couples, the process of getting married has meaning and the person that marries them is important. It might not be in a church or be a religious or spiritual ceremony but it is a ceremony based on a promise of a life-long commitment. It might just be a 5-minute exchange with a signing of a marriage license but it is still meaningful to many people and it deserves to be treated that way.
If you would like to be a Wedding Officiant In Indiana. Here's an article to tell you how.
My name is Victoria Meyer. I'm the owner of Marry Me In Indy! LLC and I provide wedding officiant services in the greater Indianapolis area and throughout Indiana. Here is more information about me. If you are getting married and need a wedding officiant, I'd love to marry you! You can contact me here.
Just About Anyone Can Officiate A Wedding!
Do you want to be a wedding officiant in Indiana? Are you looking for an affordable wedding officiant in Indiana? Or, maybe the idea of finding someone to perform your wedding ceremony is making you uncomfortable and you are looking for information on how you can "create your own wedding officiant" in order to avoid confrontation. I totally get it! It happens!
Info From a Seasoned Professional
I've been a wedding officiant in Indiana for over 9 years and I have the information you need to know to either start your own wedding officiant business or just marry a friend or family member for fun. I know I must be doing something right because I've married over 3000 couples and the services I've created have been duplicated by plenty of other wedding officiants.
Perhaps it's bad for business to share this information but I know love is alive and there is no shortage of people to marry! I also like honesty. You should know what your options are. Chances are, you will find this article interesting, and if you are looking to hire a wedding officiant you will consider me, along with all your other options. As much as I love business, choosing a wedding officiant can be a very personal choice. You should hire the right person for you. If it's a man in a suit that looks that part, there are plenty of them! There are also many unique individuals that have something special to offer you as not just a person legally qualified to marry you, but a person that you want to marry you, a person that makes you feel comfortable or excited or happy!
I want you to have the ceremony you want. That includes the right person performing your wedding ceremony!
Officiate Weddings Just Because YOU WANT TO
Being qualified to officiate a wedding doesn't mean you have to start a business. Maybe you just want to perform a wedding for your son or daughter or even a grandchild. Performing a wedding ceremony can be a very intimate interaction, not just for the couple getting married, but for the person actually marrying them. I once had a couple cancel because the bride's father decided he really wanted to perform the wedding. I signed their marriage license and made their marriage legal and then her dad performed the formal ceremony. He was very excited about it!! If you love love and love weddings, performing a wedding ceremony is absolutely exhilarating!
Help Your Friends!
One of the biggest problems I've seen over the past 5 years is from couples who live in small Indiana towns. They live in the middle of nowhere and are just looking for someone to sign their marriage license. You can no longer get married at the courthouse in most counties in Indiana and it's created a problem for many couples. They thought they could just run down to the courthouse on their day off or lunch break and get everything done at once. When they realize all they could get was a marriage license and no wedding they start goggling and calling and trying to find someone to marry them. Quickly, they discover none of the pastors in the area will marry them without months of premarital counseling, or no one is available to marry them the day they need to get married, for whatever reason.
I've received calls from people who live hours away from me and don't have time to drive all the way to Indianapolis and back home again. More then once, I've explained to a person just how they can get ordained online so they can legally sign a marriage license. Just yesterday, I had a couple drive almost 3 hours each way to get their license signed. The bride, like many before her, said, "I should become a wedding officiant!" And, I agreed with her, like I always do. You can just be plain helpful!
I think everyone knows, all you have to do to be a wedding officiant in Indiana is to get ordained. It sounds easy, and it is, but it's also easy to talk yourself out of it thinking about the "What if's?"
When I got ordained it totally took me off guard. I did it because it came up out of nowhere and I thought it was a great idea. I was a little bored that day and intrigued by the possibilities.
MANY years ago, I was going through my email on a slow Saturday morning at work and one particular email caught my eye. It said, "Become an ordained minister! You can marry people, you can bury people! You can do everything a minister can do!" I thought it was hysterical! Just the way it was phrased. Me, and all the people sitting around me were cracking up! I decided to do it! It was before online payments so I had to actually print the application out, write out a check for $19.95 and mail it. 2 weeks later I received my ordination certificate in the mail. I didn't officiate my first wedding until many years later but I knew that I was able to!
Today, you can get ordained online in about 3 minutes and it's free! If you want a copy of the certificate to prove that you are ordained you have to pay to have it mailed. That's it. You could get ordained online right now and legally perform a wedding in Indiana today!
Don't I have to go to seminary to be ordained?
If you want to be part of an organized religion you need to meet the criteria to be ordained by that organization. The United States offers freedom of religion for all. You can practice any sort of religion you want and not too many people can say anything about it. I've written an entire article about getting legitimately ordained online. You can read my finding here. You can start your own church and ordain anyone you like. Online churches generally have no special requirements for ordination.
Basically, getting ordained online is a big business. Yes, that's right. It's a business. There are people who create churches with the intention to ordain people so they can perform marriages. It's legal in just about every state in the US. It is definitely legal to get ordained online and perform legal marriages in Indiana. I have performed thousands of weddings and have never been asked to prove I'm qualified to do so. I suggest you pay for the certificate to prove you are ordained, just in case. You could be asked, at some point, to prove it.
It took a long time for my parents to understand just how I became ordained and perform marriages. I'm still not sure they get it, but they just go with it. I make a decent living as a "stay at home mom" and I've only been to prison to perform a wedding, not because I've committed a crime.
Why isn't there some sort of required proof that my wedding officiant is legit?
I asked a local county clerk about why we don't have to prove ordination. The answer was, "We are not required by law to ask, so we don't."
I asked a local county clerk about why we don't have to prove ordination. The answer was, "We are not required by law to ask, so we don't." I can see their point, it would be a lot of paperwork and extra work in general.
Marriage is a legal process. You are entering into a legal contract. It's not a free flyer you pick up and fill out on a whim. You have to apply for a marriage license and meet certain qualifications to be issued the marriage license. You are required state under oath before you are issued the marriage license that you are entering into marriage of your own free will and that you meet the legal qualifications. Having a qualified wedding officiant sign your marriage license with you is really just an extra step for you to take to make a formal declaration that you are choosing to enter into the legal contract of marriage.
For many years, marriage and religion have been very closely related so they allow religious leaders to participate in the legal paperwork. This is actually rather unique to the US. In many other other countries, everyone needs to go to a state official in order to become legally married. If you choose to have a religious ceremony afterwards, that's up to you. It's true separation of church and state. The US allows many different types of people to officiate weddings but the state still issues the marriage license. You could very reasonably argue the extra step of having your marriage officiated after a license is issued is redundant.
But what about those stories about online ordination not being legit....
There are some interesting stories out there where people have decided that they don't want to be married anymore and have got to court to have their marriage annulled based on the fact the person that performed the wedding wasn't a legitimate minister. Most of these stories are older and not relevant to Indiana. Online ordained ministers are completely legal in Indiana.
If you don't feel comfortable completing the legal paperwork, you don't have to. This is just an option. I've had people say things like, "My friend is ordained, he could have married us, but he's a crackhead and I didn't want our wedding to be officiated by a crackhead." I could see their point!
Every year, I book last minute weddings when a couple decides that they no longer want their friend or relative to marry them. It made them feel like they had too much power of over them and they wanted a neutral party to perform the wedding and sign the license.
In both of these cases, the marriage would have still been legal, it just didn't feel good to the couple getting married.
Where should I get ordained online?
Most people get ordained online for free by the Universal Life Church. It's also known as the Universal Life Church Monastery. They ordain you for free and for life. Other organizations will ordain you for free and then you have to pay an annual fee to be "licensed" by them to perform marriages. So, go straight to the Universal Life Church, get ordained for life, pay the fee for the certificate and be done with it.
On a side note, the Universal Life Church ordains ministers so they can practice any sort of religion they want. So, you can get ordained by the ULC and start your own church, if you want. Their original intention was to allow individuals to legally practice their freedom of religion. The wedding thing definitely helps pay the bills!
How to LEGALLY Officiate A Wedding In Indiana
Officiating a wedding is a legal contract and you must be at least 18 years old and legally able to enter into a legal contract.
You aren't doing anything more than witnessing two people signing a piece of paper and agreeing to marry so it's not that deep.
Do I have to do anything when the couple is getting the marriage license?
As a wedding officiant, you are not part of the marriage license process. To make a marriage legal in Indiana requires a marriage license. A couple will need to obtain their own marriage license from the county clerk in the county where they live. There is no way around that. Only county clerk's issue marriage licenses and each couple has to appear in person to be issued a marriage license. There are exceptions in some Indiana counties due to incarceration or incapacitation. County Clerk's keep regular business hours. You can't get a marriage license on the weekend or holidays.
Marriage laws in Indiana are governed on the State level but the laws are interpreted on the county level. Here is everything you need to know about getting a marriage license in Indiana. Here is a direct link to the Indiana Marriage Laws. If you have questions, contact the county clerk that issued the marriage license you will be signing.
Completing the paperwork
As a wedding officiant, all you legally have to do is fill out the marriage license with your contact information, sign it, witness the two people getting married sign it and have them give their consent that they do want to be married. That's it.
Things to check before you fill out the marriage license:
What is my "title?"
They ask for your "title" when you fill out the license. If you are an ordained minister you write in "minister." I write "reverend." Some people think that you write "wedding officiant" but that would be incorrect. A wedding officiant is someone who is legally qualified to perform a wedding. That could be a judge or a mayor or another legally qualified individual. You can read about being a wedding officiant in my article here. If you are an ordained minister, that legally qualifies you to officiate a wedding in Indiana.
Performing a Legal Wedding Ceremony
Technically, you need to perform a wedding ceremony. However, that can be as simple as asking "Do you take this person to be your spouse?" And, "Do you take this person to be your spouse?" They both say, "yes" and you pronounce them married! I literally do this at Starbucks just about every day. it's a very simple, basic, no frills, wedding.
Most of the time, people want an actual wedding ceremony. Most wedding officiants just go online and download a wedding ceremony. You can use a pre-written wedding ceremony or you can create your own ceremonies. I have my 6 most popular wedding ceremony scripts here. I also maintainan entire wedding ceremony website with hundreds of wedding ceremony ideas. You can read a simple civil ceremony, perform a spiritual ceremony or a completely non-religious ceremony.
Just because you are an ordained minister does not mean you have to perform a religious ceremony.
Performing a Wedding Ceremony
Officiating a Wedding
Anyone can perform a wedding ceremony. Anyone can write a wedding ceremony or read from a script. Just like you can exchange vows with someone and not be legally married you can perform a wedding ceremony and not sign a marriage license. This is always an option. If you don't want to take legal responsibility to sign to sign a marriage license, someone else can take care of the legal part and you can just perform the ceremony. Or, you can sign the license and make the marriage legal and someone else can perform a more formal, elaborate wedding ceremony.
File the Completed Marriage License
There is generally a "note to officiants" with the marriage license that the completed marriage license needs to be returned within 30 days. ANYONE CAN RETURN A MARRIAGE LICENSE. The license can be returned in person or by mail and anyone can obtain a certified copy of the marriage license. It's a public record.
When I performed a lot of $50 Quickie Weddings in my home I always gave the completed license back to the couple to file themselves. Most couples having a budget, quickie wedding are just looking to get the paperwork completed quickly. Today, if I perform a formal wedding ceremony I will return the completed license to the Hamilton or Marion County Clerk if they couple wants me to. Otherwise, they can return it themselves. My fee to file the paperwork and obtain copies is built into my pricing. Stamps, envelopes, gas and certified copies aren't free! YOU are not required to file the license. It's just required that the license be filed.
What if something goes wrong?
If something goes wrong, you fix the problem. It's not that hard. I will say, I don't return marriage licenses by mail anymore because they can get lost in the mail. I return the license in person to make sure it's filed. If copies get lost in the mail they can always be re-sent. A completed marriage license is much harder to replace. If I do end up mailing a marriage license to an outlying county I will mail it by certified mail to make sure it's received. Most couples are OK returning the license themselves. It's a very important legal document. They should be OK with treating it as such!
What if the marriage license gets lost in the maiI or lost in general?
If the marriage license gets lost you get another copy of the marriage license, fill it out again with the original date of the marriage and everyone has to sign the license again. This can be a HUGE problem is the couple lives hours away.
What if the marriage license doesn't get returned within 30 days?
The solution to this problem varies by the county that issued the license. Some counties will still accept the license as long as it was signed before it expired. (A marriage license is good for 60 days.) Other counties require additional paperwork and fees.
What if the couple changes their mind and no longer wants to be married?
The answer to this is tricky. If they didn't file the completed marriage license with the clerk there's nothing to legally "undo." Just because you are issued a marriage license doesn't mean you have to actually get married. Technically, you are married as of the day the marriage license is signed even if the paperwork is lost for months before you realize it. Some would say you are still technically "married" but there is no legal paper trail so there is nothing to "divorce."
Every now and then, someone will decide they really don't want to be legally married and lie about filing the completed paperwork. This happened once with a couple I married. When the groom found out he tried to complete the paperwork himself. Legally, the bride needed to be present when we re-signed the marriage license. She refused to be there so I also refused to sign it. It was a scary domestic situation involving a green card. I'm not sure how they resolved it.
What if it's a Green Card Wedding?
Can I Get In Trouble With Immigration?
Excellent question! I know that I have most likely performed MANY green card weddings. Sometimes, I don't think the American bride realized she was being taken advantage of. That concerned me. When I realized the actual impact of the situation, it haunted me. Other times, I knew the couple made an agreement to marry for a green card. Marriage is a legal way to get a green card. People get married for all sorts of reasons, you'd be surprised. I'm not sure how you can really differentiate why it's OK to marry someone for money or health insurance but not a green card? If you know what you are doing who am I to question?
Wedding officiants don't issue marriage licenses, the county clerk does. Visa status is irrelevant when you go to get a marriage license. Even if the clerk thinks the marriage is probably not legit, there is nothing they can do about it. I had a groom that didn't even have a passport. All he had was a state ID from his home country. All he had to do was get it translated and they issued him a marriage license. Ultimately, it comes down to Immigration and Homeland Security to decide if the marriage is legit or not.
I've had many conversations on the subject of green card weddings. My husband is from Germany. We had a green card wedding. We met in the US. We moved to Germany. We were married in Germany, applied for the green card in Germany. We moved back to the US and he went back to work at the same job he had when we first met. 2 years later, there wasn't much for immigration to question. 28 years later, we're still married.
Last year, I got to marry an immigration agent and he answered all of my questions. My greatest concern was for the women who didn't know they were taken advantage of. He said nothing would happen to them - unless they were a repeat offender. There are people who make their living marrying foreigners. He also said there is often no rhyme or reason. Legitimate marriages can be denied and others are approved. There are certain wedding officiants that marry a majority of the greencard couples. Immigration is aware of this. There is nothing illegal going on when it comes to the wedding officiant.
Ultimately, immigration sorts it all out in the end. Last year I received a call from a lawyer who was representing a couple that I married several years ago. Immigration was questioning their marriage and they were building a case to prove that the marriage was legit. He asked me to sign an affidavit stating that, in my opinion, the marriage was legit. I did, right away. I asked him, what if I'd have declined to sign? He said they would have just left it out of the case. Others haven't wanted to get involved when asked.
I married over 1000 couples in my home for $50. Sometimes, I married them for free - because I could. I was really, really happy providing a great service to a lot of couples. In the end, it was the green card couples that made me stop performing weddings in my home. It started to really, really disgust me. Once I really realized what was going on and how far some people will go to get what they want I had to remove myself from the equation. They were taking advantage of me too. That's the biggest problem when providing budget services. People will push to see how much they can get for nothing.
Do I need to register with the state to Officiate Weddings?
No, the is state-wide registration required in Indiana to legally officiate weddings.
Do I need to be a Certified Wedding Officiant?
There is no "official certification" to be a wedding officiant in Indiana. There are local and national organizations you can choose to join. They set their own "certification" requirements. The certification doesn't make them a better or more qualified wedding officiant. Sometimes it just means that you pay them money to be part of a professional organization.
I was looking to join a national wedding officiant organization but one of their requirements was I needed to have a written contract for every wedding I perform. I perform a lot of $50 Quickie Weddings in Starbucks. It is just silly to have a written contract for that. The person that runs the organization offered to sell me a contract to use though! I'll keep my money and set my own business standards. Thank you very much!
Do I Need to be Licensed to Officiate a Wedding?
No. Indiana doesn't license wedding officiants. Some online churches will license their ordained ministers. That's completely different. I consider it an unnecessary business tactic.
Can I Officiate a Wedding in Prison or Jail?
Yes. If you are legally able to officiate a wedding in Indiana you can legally officiate a wedding in an Indiana jail or prison. Each prison or jail has their own requirements an inmate must meet when they want to get married. They will need to approve the person performing the wedding but they only thing they can really check is if you meet the state requirements and the requirements to be a visitor to the facility. I usually recommend getting a friend ordained to perform your wedding in prison. Often, I have to charge extra because the drive to some prisons is several hours each way and it can be way out of budget.
You will need to check with the jail or prison for details. Each facility is different.
Being a Wedding Officiant In Indiana is Easy!!
Generally, officiating a wedding in Indiana is easy. As a full-time wedding officiant for several years, I've officiated a LOT of weddings. If you marry 500 couples a year, you get a lot of experience. Most people perform a wedding once or twice a year or one or twice in a lifetime. They are joyful occasions you spend with your loved ones. You say a few words, fill out a piece of paper and that's it. I've included more details because they are questions people ask and they can also make for interesting reading!
If you have more questions, please just ask! I'm happy to help!
Christmas morning I got up extra early to drive down to Brown County, IN. I took a turn off the paved road to the dirt road and then I parked my car at the tip of the hill and walked down the steps to the cabin where a couple was waiting in their Christmas pajamas monogrammed with "Bride" and "Groom" to get married! Their dogs also had matching pj's for the occasion. It was awesome! They had driving down from Wisconsin to spend Christmas on Lake Monroe. It was pretty darn perfect as the sun rose over the lake as they said "I do."
Brown County Indiana is beautiful. Maybe you like to camp or stroll through Nashville? Do you, and maybe your kids, love the Abe Martin Lodge? If you'd like to elope in Brown County, near Brown County State Park or Nashville and are looking for a flexible wedding officiant, I'd love to perform your wedding ceremony! Just let me know where to meet you. I'm not up for a long hike but a walk through the park is just fine. We'll discuss what you are planning before the big day so I can dress appropriately for whatever you have in mind.
Fees are $250 Monday-Thursday and $350 Friday-Sunday.
Click here to book a weekday elopement in Brown County
Click here to book a weekend elopement in Brown County
If you are an Indiana resident, obtain your marriage license in the county you live in.
If you are not an Indiana resident, you need to obtain your marriage license from the Brown County Clerk in Nashville, IN. The Brown County Clerk is open M-F from 8-4, excluding holidays.
Of the many weddings that I've officiated in Indy, most of them would be considered elopements. Couples not really looking for something big, just a little wedding. Traditionally, and elopement is when two people run away and get married in secret. They might have run to a little chapel right over the state line or downtown to the courthouse but today, a lot of elopements are planned. And they are planned beautifully!
Gazebos are always lovely for an elopement or a small wedding. As a wedding officiant, I love them because they are great rain or shine. I had one bride who had her heart set on a Christmastime wedding under the gazebo in Lincoln Park in Zionsville. It was where they got engaged. They rented heaters and chairs and it was very cozy.
All of these gazebos are in public parks around Indy. They can all be reserved for very reasonable fees. My experience has been, with couples who want a quick elopement during the week, they didn't need to reserve the area. On weekends they did. The parks people they spoke with told them if the spot was reserved or not and if they should formally reserve it. If you want to elope in the gazebo this week the odds of it being reserved right out from under you for tomorrow is small - but no guarantees. As always, these are suggestions. I take no responsibility for the area if you hire me as your officiant to marry you.
Lincoln Park Gazebo, Zionsville
Lincoln Park Gazebo in Zionsville. You can reserve the gazebo but not the park. That means you can't keep people out of the park. I've performed many ceremonies there and this has never been an issue. Couples set up chairs, there is an "aisle" to walk down. One couple chose to get married here in December and were able to rent heaters to keep their guests warm. Click here form information about reserving the gazebo.
Zionsville is a small, picturesque town. It's a great place to plan a small wedding. Getting married in Lincoln park and then walking to a restaurant for dinner. The Brick Street Inn offers Bed and Breakfast lodging and their restaurant, Auberge, offers great food for dinner or a reception afterwards.
Falls Park Gazebo - Pendleton
Falls Park in Pendleton, IN has a lovely gazebo and a small fountain next to it. Pendleton is a very picturesque park in a small town. There is also a community room available for a reasonable fee. The gazebo is very popular and you will want to call ahead to make sure it is available. Click here for more information on reserving the Falls Park gazebo. Rates are extremely reasonable.
Friendship Garden Park - Plainfield
Friendship Gardens Park in Plainfield has 3 gazebos together and a fountain. It's big enough for groups up to 75 which makes it perfect for a small wedding. Click here for more information about the park. The fee is $105 for a Plainfield resident and $210 for a non-resident - for the entire day. It is as pretty as the picture.
Coxhall Gardens - Carmel
Coxhall Gardens in Carmel has a large outdoor theater with a Gazebo in the center. You can contact the park to ask if it's been rented out for a large event when you are planning your small wedding or elopement. It's free to use for elopements and photo shoots. There are also may other pretty places in the park. You can take a walk around and decide the best spot for you. Click here for more information about Coxhall Gardens.
Fort Harrison Gazebo - Lawrence
Ft. Harrison State Park Inn has a gazebo overlooking Hawthorne Pond. It's in a beautiful area for pictures and the gazebo makes a great backdrop for a wedding with plenty of space for chairs surrounding it for guests. More information on Ft. Ben and gazebo rental information can be found here. Ft. Harrison State Park Inn has a gazebo overlooking Hawthorne Pond. It's in a beautiful area for pictures and the gazebo makes a great backdrop for a wedding with plenty of space for chairs surrounding it for guests. More information on Ft. Ben and gazebo rental information can be found here.
Rick's Cafe Boatyard
Rick's Cafe Boatyard has gazebo outside overlooking the Eagle Creek. You can rent the gazebo for large weddings with chairs and tent Rick's has a banquet room upstairs from the restaurant with a deck with a great view in case it's not gazebo time of year. Contact Rick's directly for information about using their facilities.
Gazebo - Carmel City Hall
Civic Gardens in Carmel has a large gazebo. It's big enough to have a wedding and even your reception under. It's next to the Japanese Gardens which are beautiful for pictures as well as weddings. Contact the City of Carmel for more information.
Washington Township Park - Avon
Washington Township Park in Avon has a very nice small Gazebo inside the first entrance off of the main highway. It's near the fishing pond that also has several decks where you can get married overlooking the water. There is also a larger park, a little farther down the road with more options for park shelters. Click here for more information about the park.
Children's Garden Park - Greenfield
Children's Garden Park is located at 201 East Main Street in Greenwood. You can rent it for private parties or special occasions. Click here for more information about the park.
Ellis Park - Danville
Ellis Park in Danville, IN. This gazebo under several shade trees, in case it's an extra warm day or there is a chance of rain. It's big enough for about 30 people. There are benches conveniently built into the side of it so if you have people that need to sit you don't need to bring chairs. The address is 600 East Main Street, Danville, IN 46122. You can follow this link for more information.
Lions Park - Zionsville
Lions Park in Zionsville also has a gazebo. It's part of a much larger community park with baseball diamonds so you will want to plan accordingly around it. Click here for Zionsville Park Information.TORIA
Wedding Officiant Services for Indy Area Gazebos
My fee to marry you at any of these locations in $150. Included in the fee is:
Hi! My name is Victoria Meyer and I've been officiating weddings in the Indianapolis area and all over Indiana for over 9 years. I have the best job in the world! At least I think so, I hope it shows in my work!
There are so many wedding officiants in the Indianapolis area. If you are getting married, you will need to find a wedding officiant to marry you. You might already know one! All it takes is a click of a button on the internet and you are an ordained minister, qualified to perform legal marriages in Indiana. But does that make you a good, professional, dependable, wedding officiant?
So why should you hire ME? A professional wedding officiant in Indianapolis?
If you want more detailed information about being a wedding officiant in Indiana please click here.
A Professional Wedding Officiant Provides Convenience.
If you hire a professional wedding officiant you can make an appointment when you need one and know that all the paperwork is going to be filled out correctly. Sure, you can figure it out, but for a small fee, you don't have to. I marry people every day. I can make the process simple and easy for you.
Being a Professional Wedding Officiant means you charge money for your services. Running a Professional Wedding Officiant Business is something else.
Anyone can create a website and start a business. But are they going to deliver? There are a lot of booking services. You might talk to someone that tells you a great story but they might not be the person that actually marries you. I used to book other people to officiate weddings and most of the time, it worked out. But when it didn't, it was a huge problem to solve. I've found that people who run their own business and deliver the services are more dependable. If you just hire someone to work for you when you have work for them they really aren't invested. They can walk away at any time. They may have never spoken with you so they aren't personally invested in you and your wedding. They have a lot less to lose. I'm the one you speak with on the phone or text or email. I'm the one that comes to your wedding, performs your wedding and completes your paperwork.
Isn't a business with several Wedding Officiants better? If one person can't make it, they'll have a back-up plan.
In theory, this is true. But emergencies are generally a last minute problem. If your wedding is at 4 pm on a Saturday during wedding season, that's a hard time to fill last minute. All the other wedding officiants might be booked with other weddings or already have plans. Every season I receive those last minute calls and emails asking if I'm available. Everyone really did put their best foot forward with every intention to follow through, but emergencies are emergencies. My policy with formal weddings is I'll do everything within my power to find someone else to marry you with the ceremony you want. I've ALWAYS been able to find someone if I needed to. But a broken ankle or an emergency appendectomy is just that, an emergency. It can happen to anyone.
Pro Tip: If you are planning a wedding for 6 months to a year from now, make sure you hire someone who has been around for at least that long or longer. If your wedding officiant doesn't perform weddings on a regular basis they may have lost interest by the time your wedding date arrives. They may forget or just cancel last minute. It's easy to become a wedding officiant, it's a lot harder to build a successful business as one.
Professional Knowledge and Expertise.
Performing marriages, simple, legal marriages, or formal wedding ceremonies is what I do. It's my specialized skill set. Just about everyone can read a website and find the answers. I've done all that and experienced the things that can go wrong and found out how to fix it. I'm in the clerk's office talking to them face to face often - when I am return marriage licenses I also spend a lot of time learning about wedding ceremonies, collecting ceremony information and blogging about it.
Check out my website WeddingOfficiantInsider.com. I also maintain a wedding ceremony website filled with just wedding ceremony ideas and options. WeddingCeremonyPro.com - Where It's All about the Ceremony
A Professional Wedding Officiant performs your wedding ceremony - It's a big deal. You want the right person.
I've performed thousands of wedding ceremonies. Traditional, formal, religious and non-religious - With dignity and professionalism. But, more often - fun, lighthearted weddings, focusing on you, the couple, and your guests. I try to find the perfect ceremony that's just right for you. You don't have to find a pastor or jump through hoops to get married in a church if you don't want to. You can just hire the perfect person to marry you, the perfect couple!
A Professional Wedding Officiant will put your mind at ease
So much goes into your wedding day. The ceremony is what kicks that whole day off. Having someone there that understands everything going on and making sure the ceremony goes off without a hitch is important. You need to get everyone down the aisle, and once you are there, you want to enjoy the moment! I don't want to be part of that stress. I want to be the other person waiting for you at the end of the aisle that says "Welcome to your wedding!" and makes you take a deep breath so you can find your center to enjoy the moment. If that doesn't work, I just make make you - and everyone else giggle. Just because! You should be comfortable and feel good!
A Professional Wedding Officiant asks the right questions
Every wedding and every wedding ceremony is not the same. Moreover, every couple getting married is not the same. Yes, you could hire me to come and perform your wedding and I can show up and everything will work out just fine. I've got a folder full of ceremonies and I can put one together that's right for you without skipping a beat. Many couples do this every year. Book their ceremony sight unseen and we exchange a few emails, I come and it's done. "I do," "I do," "It's done." Is a very popular way to get married!!
But over time....
I've learned to try and get to know a couple a little better. To know what you are planning and what you are actually wanting in your wedding. I actually have a whole list of questions I ask couples when we sit down to talk about their wedding ceremony. You can read an entire explanation about there here. Not every couple has an answer to every question, they aren't all relevant to every wedding, but better to ask than assume.
Some Interesting things about me
Married for 29 years and counting
I have been married for 29 years! My husband was born in Germany. I met him when he was in the US working on a J1 visa. I always say his visa expired and we didn’t. I moved to Germany with him where we got married. He got a green card and, shortly after, we moved back to the US. He is a naturalized citizen. We had a legal wedding in Germany and a wedding in the church where I grew up in the US. I'm very familiar with couples having two weddings. K1 Visa? Green Card? I totally understand! We lived in Dortmund, in North Rhine-Westphalia when we got married. We also lived in Dusseldorf for a year in 2006
Pro Tip: Hire a professional wedding officiant with a good reputation if you are dealing with immigration. It might help your case if you have to go to court.
I'm a mom - of 2 kids with special needs
We are the parents of two boys. They are both on the autism spectrum. We also homeschool.
I welcome people with special needs at weddings. Both the couple being married and anyone who might be attending, or in, your wedding. If you are a couple that deals regularly with SPD's or social anxiety I want to help you feel comfortable during your wedding.
I Love Indy!
With a business called Marry Me In Indy! LLC, It's pretty obvious. :-) We moved to Indiana when I was 9 months pregnant with a 3 year old. I felt like I was so welcome by everyone from the moment we decided to move here. I absolutely LOVE Indiana and it’s definitely my new hometown. We are so happy to be raising a family here. That’s why everything is Indy! With the exclamation point! I love weddings by Indy's Iconic locations.
I used to be a pastry chef... among other things...
I used to be a pastry chef. I graduated from Johnson and Wales University (back when it was still a college) after high school with a degree in Pastry Arts and worked in the hotel and restaurant business for over 10 years. My goal was to be the Pastry Chef in a 4 Star 4 Diamond hotel and restaurant. I was the Pastry Chef at the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After reaching that goal I decided to move onto something else. My husband is currently the Executive Chef at Auberge at the Brick Street Inn in Zionsville. An AWESOME place for a small wedding, elopement, or, like to just eat! We've lived in Delaware, where I grew up, Colorado Springs and Telluride too.
I have a LOT of experience in customer service - working retail and call centers. I used to be that lovely problem solver of all things credit card back in the day. I was a Senior Relationship Manager for an internet bank doing everything from helping bring new call centers online to Executive Office escalations. When you wanted to be transferred to a manager, that was often me!
I am certified holistic massage practitioner - which is not massage therapy. It still feels really good though!
I am very interested in self hypnosis and I’m also a certified hypnotist. I write and record programs to help me, and anyone else who wants to use them, to change my inner dialogue and live a more happy, positive life. I believe in the power of positive thought!
I became an ordained minister on a whim.
It was a funny morning at work when I received that email. We laughed so hard as I read “You too! Can be an ordained minister! You can marry people, you can bury people…” I had to print out the application, write a check and send it the mail. The idea of marrying couples appealed to me. A LOT or people get ordained to perform marriages. I was very Christian when I was younger and quite spiritual at the time and the ordination had meaning at the time. My personal religion is more about love and acceptance of all people. That’s why I’m happy to marry ANYONE any way the want to be married. I was ordained 16 years ago. I’ve actually been a wedding officiant for a little over 8 years.
I became a professional wedding officiant because I wanted to make a difference.
When my husband and I went to get married in the church I grew up in, the priest at the time, it was an Episcopal church, was a HUGE jerk! He said we were already legally married and therefore, he was only blessing our marriage and it wasn’t a wedding. My dad was not allowed to walk me down the aisle and I was not allowed to wear white because I was no longer a virgin. (Yes, he said that.) He did it because he could and he did it to exercise any power he had. Priests and pastor and ministers regularly marry already legally married couples all the time. Most countries, like Germany, where I was married, require all couples to be legally married by the state first. They you can go on to have a church wedding if you choose. It’s complete separation of church and state. That priest went on to become a bishop. He was ultimately “fired” from the Episcopal Church for his views on homosexuals in the church, among other things. Because of that experience, I am extremely LGBTQ friendly and 9 month pregnant brides wearing white are more than welcome in their absolute GLOWING glory!!
I absolutely LOVE my job as a wedding officiant.
I started my business (kind of) on a whim, desperate to find a way to make money and still be a full time mom. I started from 0 and taught myself everything. (Along with the help from the people who have chosen me to marry them.) I’ve learned by doing and I’m so proud of what I’ve built. I’ve been in such an incredible time and place to be a wedding officiant in Indiana. I started while they were still marrying couples at the courthouse and I was performing wedding on the weekends. When they stopped marrying couples in the courthouses I was in the right place at the right time to really grow my business and become a full time wedding officiant. I’ve met incredible couples I would have never met and have learned so much about life and love and the power of love and being legally married. It was an absolutely amazing experience to be able to perform commitment/wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ couples and then legally marry hundreds of LGBTQ couples as the laws changed. I’ve watched same gender couples who have been committed to each other for years, and even decades, weep as they were able to finally marry. Now, it’s just like any other wedding. Legal marriage and what it means in America is so much more than most people think.
It’s been an incredible 10 years of marrying over 3500 coupoles and I look forward to many more years of marrying so many wonderful couples!
If you are looking for information about finding a wedding officiant in Indiana or about being a Wedding Officiant in Indiana, this is the article for you. My name is Victoria Meyer. I’ve been a Wedding Officiant in Indiana for over 10 years and I’ve married thousands of couples. My experiences as a wedding officiant have given me the opportunity to learn a lot and I’m happy to share my information with you. I’m also happy to marry you!
If you are looking for a quick, legal wedding today, please click here for information about my $50 Quickie Weddings
If you are looking or information about me officiating your formal wedding, big or small, including elopements, please click here.
What is a Wedding Officiant?
A wedding officiant is a person who is legally qualified to perform a marriage. That means they meet the requirements set by the state to perform a marriage in that state.
What does a Wedding Officiant Do?
In Indiana, a wedding officiant will solemnize your marriage and complete the marriage license.
Solemnize just means that you have an “official” ceremony. An official ceremony can be a simple civil ceremony where each person just says “I do” or it could be a larger traditional or religious ceremony.
Your wedding officiant with fill out your marriage license with their personal contact information. There is a place on the marriage license that asks for the Title of the Officiant. That would be Reverend, Priest, Pastor, Ordained Minister, Judge, Mayor, Secular Celebrant etc… The wedding Officiant will fill in the date of the wedding, the city or town and the county in which the marriage occurs. They will then sign the marriage license and witness you signing the marriage license. When the wedding officiant fills out the marriage license and signs it they are stating all the information is true.
Who qualifies as a Wedding Officiant in Indiana?
Get the facts here: http://www.indy.gov/eGov/County/Clerk/Marriage/Pages/Wedding-Officiants.aspx
Is a Wedding Officiant Certified or Registered in Indiana?
No. There is no formal certification or registration for Wedding Officiants in Indiana. If you get ordained online in order to marry a couple you can get a certified copy of your ordination certificate. That certification means you are ordained, it does not automatically mean you are certified to perform marriages. That’s up to the state in which you are performing a marriage. In Indiana, as long as your ordained, by any church, even online, you are qualified to officiate a wedding.
If there is no formal registration how do I know my marriage is legal?
Indiana state law does not require the county clerk’s to check a person’s qualifications, therefore they do not. They could check if there were legal questions. You can always ask the person who is marrying you to prove their qualifications to be sure. Anyone advertising their services and charging money to marry you should be able to prove they are qualified to do so. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you are at all concerned.
It is your responsibility to make sure the person who is marrying you is qualified to do so. If the officiant signs the marriage license and you sign the license, you are all saying you are agreeing to the marriage.
If you are looking for more information as to how to obtain a marriage license and get legally married you can read my article here.
Does my Wedding Officiant get the license for me?
No. In Indiana, couples need to both appear in person at their County Clerk’s office to obtain the marriage license.
Does my Wedding Officiant return the license for me?
Anyone can return your marriage license for you. Your marriage license can be returned in person or by mail. If you are in a hurry to get a certified copy of your marriage license I suggest taking the marriage license to yourself and filing it. Most counties will issue your certified copies right away. The only county I know of that won’t do that is Johnson County. If I perform a $50 Quickie Wedding for you I give the completed marriage license back to you to file. For all other services, if your marriage license was issued in Marion or Hamilton County I will return the completed license for you in person and mail you two certified copies within one week of your wedding.
The online information about getting legally married in Indiana states that the wedding officiant should return your marriage license. In reality. Your marriage license needs to be returned within 30 days. Just because your marriage license is returned doesn't mean you automatically get a certified copy of the license to prove you are married to change your name etc... Your wedding officiant may or may not obtain those copies for you. That part is not their responsibility. I think it's better to have it all done at once. Return the license and get certified copies immediately. If you need to get legal matters completed, file the license yourself. It just takes a few minutes in the clerk's office.
We want to get legally married now and have a big wedding ceremony later. Is that OK?
Yes! This is very common. There are many reason couples want or need to get legally married before their formal wedding ceremony with all of their friends and family. I often legally marry a couple and perform their wedding ceremony later. Or I’ll legally marry them and they will have someone else perform their formal ceremony. Just as often, I’ll perform a wedding ceremony for a couple already legally married. Once, I performed the big ceremony for a couple and actually signed the marriage license several months later after they had cleared up some legal issues.
If we aren't having a big ceremony do we both need to be there when the wedding officiant signs the marriage license? Can we Skype?
No. Both of you need to be present to sign the marriage license. The only exception might be when one of you is incarcerated and only allowed a video visitation.
How do you get ordained to officiate weddings?
There are several websites where you can get ordained online. The most popular in The Universal Life Church Monastery. They will ordain you online instantly and for free. You just have to pay for them to send you a certified copy. As a religious institution - a church - they stand up for the US constitutional right to religious freedoms. They ordain anyone so they can legally practice any religion they want. It’s all completely legal. You can get ordained by the Universal Life Church Monastery and start your own church if that’s what you want to do. (They can also certify you as a Jedi Knight if that’s your thing. Although Jedi Knight’s aren’t ordained to perform legal marriages in Indiana)
If my Wedding Officiant is an ordained minister does that mean they have to perform a religious ceremony?
That depends on the Wedding Officiant
You can become ordained in order to legally perform weddings and never ever say a prayer. You can also insist on praying. It's up to you who you hire to perform you wedding. Always ask to be sure if you have a preference.
If I'm your Wedding Officiant?
Definitely not. In order to be legally married, you don’t have to do anything more than just say “I do” sign the marriage license and file the license with the clerk. You are welcome to celebrate your marriage with any type of ceremony you like.
Side note: You don’t have to say, “Obey” when you get married or exchange wedding rings if you don’t want to.
Many people become ordained ministers in order to perform marriages in line with their own personal spiritual beliefs.
There are professional wedding officiants that specialize in only officiating non-religious weddings. They may only perform legal, civil ceremonies or traditional, formal ceremonies that Some will only perform Christian weddings, others specialize in Pagan rituals like handfastings.
As a full-time professional wedding officiant in Indiana, I perform just about any ceremony a couple wants. My $50 Quickie Wedding is the simplest of wedding ceremonies, picking up where the small claims courts and clerk’s offices left off when the stopped performing marriages. I perform many non-religious ceremonies as well as spiritual, Christian, multi-faith ceremonies and handfastings. I’m open to everyone. If you want something “different” I’m open to learning something different.
Professional Wedding Officiants and the anti-religious Wedding Ceremony
Many couples who seek my services come from Christian families but really don’t want to be married in a church. They may not be religious at all but their parents insist on having some sort of religious aspects to their wedding ceremony. Some couples simply want to honor their parents or grandparents religious beliefs because they love them and want everything to run smoothly. We get together and always find a happy medium. We choose prayers or Christian readings that aren’t too over-the-top preachy. We may choose updated translations of scriptures or more spiritual readings that are simply beautiful and won’t offend non-religious people.
An example of when it’s a good idea to call a professional Wedding Officiant.
One of the most interesting services I’ve provided more than once is being the person a couple hires so they don’t have to have a family member marry them. Indiana is a traditional, Christian state. There are many small-town churches along the highways and byways of our state with many churches and families filled with pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. They all have their own views on marriage and are more than happy to share them. All of them could legally perform marriages in Indiana but that doesn’t mean a couple would want them to. I’ve officiated completely non-religious weddings for closet atheists. They don’t want to tell their very religious families they don’t share their religious views, so they hire me and when their family complains they can blame it on me. I’m fine with that.
In other cases, the couple simply couldn’t decide which pastor in their family to marry them so they chose me.
Professional Wedding Officiants pick up where religious misters stop
Some Christian ministers will refuse to marry couples based on religious reasons. It all depends on how they interpret the bible and the religious teachings they adhere to. One couple came to me to sign their marriage license because their pastor refused. Both of them had been married before. The pastor didn’t believe in divorce for any other reason than infidelity. In the past, the pastor had gone out to ask the ex-husband or ex-wife if the reason for the divorce was, in fact, infidelity. Apparently, he got much more information than he really needed to know so he just stopped the whole process altogether. After I signed the marriage license the pastor would bless the marriage they had already legally entered into but wouldn’t do the legal part. (I know, it’s illogical)
Some religions require a couple engage in a certain number of counseling sessions or take classes before they will allow them to get married in their church. This doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the couple is in two different places leading up to the wedding and it’s just not possible for them to be in Indiana at the same time often enough to fulfill those requirements.
Sometimes, couples need to get married quickly and don’t have enough time to fulfill all the requirements with their church. In those cases, we often just perform simple, legal marriages to fulfill the Indiana state requirement to be legally married and then they have a religious ceremony later. This is very common.
LGBTQ Christian Wedding Ceremonies
There plenty of LGBTQ Christians but not every Christian minister wants to perform same-sex marriages. That's OK. There are plenty of people who are very happy to perform a Christian ceremony for a same-sex couple. I'm one of them. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would happy to get ordained to perform a Christian marriage just to do it!!
Interfaith Wedding Ceremonies
I am a professional wedding officiant and technically a non-denominational minister but I have a very strong Christian background. I grew up Episcopalian and have been part of several different churches over the years. I have a very strong interest in spirituality and religion and how each person relates to God or doesn’t relate to God at all. It’s that part of my background that drew me to being a wedding officiant.
Some of my favorite wedding ceremonies are when we join a couple from two different faiths. We mix Jewish and Christian traditions or incorporate Catholic or eastern religions into truly beautiful ceremonies.
One of the very first interfaith weddings I performed was for a couple from two completely different religious backgrounds. Neither of them was actively practicing their religion at the time but they looked at the act of marriage is a time to learn about and celebrate traditions because getting married means having a family and carrying on those traditions. They spent a lot of time researching every part of their family and religious backgrounds to decide how they wanted to honor them during their wedding ceremony. They were definitely a very curious couple. I the end, they hired Jewish musicians and then had members of their family come up and give them a “blessing.” The blessings were actually wonderful stories and words of advice for the couple. We laughed a lot! Ultimately, marriage was about family and carrying on their traditions of love.
Can you get married without a marriage license?
No, in order for a marriage to be legal you need to have a marriage license issued by the state and that marriage license needs to be completed and filed. If you want to have a wedding ceremony and not be legally married, that's fine. Professional wedding officiants perform all sorts of wedding ceremonies. You aren't legally married unless you sign the license. You can consider yourself married. That's a personal matter.
There are laws that state you can't be married without a license and anyone who performs a wedding without having that license is breaking that law. However, if everyone understands there is no legal marriage happening, there is no problem. I'd be breaking the law if I said "Yes! Of course you are married!"
I'm an ordained minister. That makes me a Wedding Officiant. Can I marry myself?
No. A Wedding Officiant acts as a legal witness to the marriage. You can't be your own witness. At least not in Indiana. In Colorado, you can self-solemnize your marriage!
How do you get married in Indiana? That's a great question. I've been marrying couples in Indy as a professional Wedding Officiant for over 9 years and have married thousands of couples. I've asked a lot of questions along the way and am happy to share my knowledge and experience with you.
Marriage is regulated on the state level. Indiana, like every state, has their own, unique marriage laws. How marriages are regulated and performed in other states has nothing to do with Indiana. Indiana is actually a very easy state in which to get married. We have no waiting period, so you can pick up your marriage license and get married all in the same day. We also don't require witnesses. Indiana is a great place to get married in secret. So if you are looking for a real secret elopement, Indy is great for that. Every state has their own marriage laws but a legal marriage is legal in every state in the US.
While marriage laws are regulated on the state level, it is the County Clerk's offices that issue marriage licenses and each county clerk can interpret marriage laws in their own way. If you have specific questions, ask your county clerk.
The biggest differences I have seen between counties are how you proceed if you forgot to file your completed marriage license within 30 day. You are still legally married, you might have to complete additional paperwork to make sure it's properly filed. The other difference is obtaining a marriage license if one person is incapacitated - meaning can't physically get to the clerk's office to pick up the marriage license because they are incarcerated or simply immobile.
Disclaimer: I'm putting for this information to be helpful. If I find out something changes, I will update this page. Please just don't take my word for it.
How to get married in Indiana Checklist
In order to be legally married you need a marriage license.
A marriage license is a legal document issued by the County Clerk.
What County Clerk to I go to?
If you, or the person you are marrying, live in Indiana
If you don't live in Indiana
You need to apply for your marriage license online.
Bring Proof of Address - If you are an Indiana Resident. Non-residents don't need proof of address.
That's it. REALLY! You just need to bring proof of who you are and your address. If you have a valid driver's license with your current address that's all you need. The number one problem I hear about from couples I marry is they forgot proof of address. You can actually bring up an e-statement on your phone, if you are set up to do that, in a pinch. If one of you has your current address on your driver's license that's fine.
If you or your partner are an Indiana resident your marriage license is good anywhere in the state.
All of this sounds like a really long and drawn out process. It is not. Really not. You can literally get married in Indiana in less than an hour. In my years as a wedding officiant in Indiana I've literally met couples at the courthouse and, in less than an hour, they have their marriage license, we've signed it, performed a ceremony, taken a few pictures, they've turned the signed license back in and received certified copies of their marriage certificate. It's literally that fast, easy and inexpensive.
How much does it cost?
Indian has been issuing marriage licenses to same gender couples in Indiana since October of 2014 with no issues. As a wedding officiant in Indiana I have been performing same gender ceremonies since before it was a legal contract. If you are looking for an LGBTQ friendly wedding officiant in Indy I am happy to marry you!
What are the criteria to marry in Indiana?
Check the spelling of your names!! Check everything on the application, if you misspelled something or left something out, you can't just put it back on or correct it after the marriage license is printed and issued. It requires a court order and $$$$
You have your marriage license. Now what?
Between you and the state, you are entering into a legal contract. That is it is. Whatever you believe marriage to be is up to you. If you choose to be acknowledged by the state as a married couple you need to enter into the legal contract of marriage. That is what your marriage license is. If you deem marriage to be a spiritual or religious union that is up to you. Technically, you just need to have your marriage license signed.
The easiest and most cost effective way to get married in Indy is to hire a wedding officiant. A wedding officiant is a person who is authorized by the state to solemnize marriages. A judge, Justice of the Peace, a lawyer, a mayor or an ordained minister are just a few people authorized to marry couples. I'm an ordained minister and my job title is Wedding Officiant. I perform everything from simple, civil, justice of the peace style weddings, elopements and full, formal wedding ceremonies. I can be as business-like or as romantic as you like.
RETURN YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE
Once you are married and your marriage license is signed you need to RETURN your marriage license to the same county clerk. In order for your marriage to be recognized by the government the license MUST BE RETURNED! You can mail it in or you can return it in person. You both don't have to go together to return it. When you return the license you also need to request certified copies. There is a fee for the copies. It's usually $2 each. Some counties are $1. Some counties require you to pay ahead of time and will automatically send them to you. ASK the clerks office. You will need a certified copy in order to change your name or legally prove to anyone you are legally married. Your decorative copy is not a legal copy.
HOW DO I CHANGE MY NAME?
You need to change your name with your social security number first. You can do that in person or through the mail. All of the information is included in the packet you receive when you pick up your marriage license.
Click here for Social Security Office Locations.
Click here for more information from the state.
After you have changed your name with social security you then need to go to the BMV to change your name on your driver's license.
Click here for more information from the BMV
We forgot to file our completed marriage license. Are we still married?
Yes, and no. You are legally married as of the day you signed the marriage license. Your marriage isn't legally recognized by the state until you file the completed marriage license. If you don't want to be legally married by the state and you didn't file the completed license there is nothing to legally undo.
If it has been more than 30 days since your marriage license was signed, contact your county clerk to ask what you need to do. They will explain their procedure.
We lost our completed marriage license. Are we still married?
Yes! Go to the county clerk the issued your license. They will print you out another copy and then you have your Wedding Officiant sign it for you again effective the day you were actually married. Then, take it back and file it in person to make sure you don't lose it again!
Am I an LGBTQ friendly wedding officiant? Absolutely!
Sometimes I’m still amazed when I get asked the question. It seems so long ago that same-sex marriage wasn’t legal. Today, it’s not same-sex marriage. It’s just marriage!
I've been marrying couples in Indiana for over 8 years. It's been a very interesting journey to watch the marriage laws change not only in Indiana but in our country.
June 24, 2014 - Surprise! You can get married!
June 24, 2014, was an amazing day in Indiana. It was the day same-sex couples had the right to marry! Nobody saw it coming. Nobody even realized it was close. If anything, we thought Indiana would be one of the last states to legalize gay marriage. I remember finding out. Facebook was on fire, my phone was filled with texts. I so badly wanted to do something that had never been done before! I was a wedding officiant and I wanted to find a couple to marry!
My kids were little and I couldn't get downtown to marry anyone that day. I was so excited when I did get the opportunity a few days later. A woman called to schedule one of my $50 quickie weddings as a surprise for her partner. I was still performing my $50 Quickies in my home then and my yard was filled with wildflowers that summer. It was exactly what they wanted because their own yard was filled with wildflowers they loved so much. It wasn’t the first time a bride sang to her beloved on their wedding day but it was definitely memorable. When they went to pay me I wanted to refuse their money just happy to have had the privilege of performing their wedding. They insisted on paying me because I would perform their wedding.
Friday, June 27, 2014 - Not so fast!
I married those two ladies on Friday, June 27, 2014. I'm not sure they got back to Richmond to file their marriage license before the emergency stay was placed on the decision to allow same-sex couples to marry. All I knew was, I signed the license and they were married! Mission accomplished! It seemed a little odd to everyone that it took so long to put that stay in place and send it to the court of appeals but we were all happy for the time we had.
On October 6, 2014, it was over.
On October 6, 2014, The Court of Appeals upheld the decision and everyone was free to marry. In June, the day the first decision came down allowing gay marriage, the clerk's office was open late and anyone who could perform a wedding was performing them right in the office. In October, it was business as usual.
As a professional wedding officiant, I was busy!! It was an incredibly exciting time. It was business as usual in the clerk's office but not business as usual for hundreds of couples in Indiana and couples traveling to Indiana in order to get legally married.
So many moving stories
I was absolutely blown away by all the couples I married. Couples who had been together for years and years. I was truly moved, meeting couples who were in committed relationships they weren't legally bound to stay in, yet they did.
I married one couple on their 40th anniversary. They had formally committed to their relationship on New Years Day at midnight. I married them at midnight in my living room. How could I not? I mean really? How cool is that? To be together for 40 years waiting for the day you can legally marry!
There were several happy couples getting ready to retire, happy their new spouses could enjoy the benefits they'd worked for. Many military veterans, happy to be able to add their spouses to their benefits - not only could they marry, they could be an openly gay married soldier. It seems so normal today, but there were many years when it was anything but.
There were so many tears of laughter and overwhelming joy and equal disbelief.
I had never understood the struggles same-gender couples can legally have when they have children. One couple was so happy to be married knowing their biological child would always be with their mother, either mother, whatever happened. There was an incredible sense of relief that filled the air when the papers were signed.
Couples were adopting children and making real families. Same gender couples could adopt children in Indiana but they couldn’t get legally married and create a real, legal family as recognized by the state. I had never understood that before. It was one of the facts the judge made their decision on. If you can legally adopt children you should be able to legally become married and create a legal family. I used to think just knowing you are a family was good enough.
Why I became a wedding officiant
When I decided to become a wedding officiant, my motivation was to be able to marry anyone any way they wanted to be married. I've always believed that love, itself, trumps everything. Love always wins in the end. It has to. I have to believe that, hope that, for my own sanity. I wanted to break the old paradigm that marriage, love, and relationships should only look one way in order to be right.
It's actually a very interesting thought when you look at love and relationships for what they are in their own personal perfection and then, try to somehow, fit it all into a preconceived mold that we call marriage in our society. Like, marriage is supposed to look a certain way.
We go from the freedom to love and express love any way we like, in a way that feels good and healthy to us, and then, in order to give it any sort of legal credibility we have to completely change it.
When I placed my first free ad on a, now defunct, wedding website several years ago I stated that I would marry anyone and that I was happy to perform commitment ceremonies. When I created my first website I said I'd perform your commitment ceremony now and marry you again for free when it was legal.
The very first call I got was from a couple that had hired a wedding officiant but the bride decided there was no way that man could marry them so they went looking again and found me. The bride said the reason she chose me was that I said I was LGBTQ friendly and she has a gay brother in San Francisco. I was happy to get my first booking, but even happier because of the reason I got it. I wanted to make a difference!
I still find it interesting that couples will choose me to marry them knowing that I’m LGBTQ friendly. They aren’t a same-gender couple, they just want an open-minded person to marry them.
The first commitment ceremony I did was for two women. One was a lesbian and the other declared herself straight. She said she still liked to look at men's butts in convenience stores but wanted to marry her partner because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her. They were in love and wanted to make a commitment. I remember marrying them in front of the fireplace in their home. They had written their vows on a paper plate. They had been talking on the phone about getting married and one of them wanted to write down the vows they were writing together. The only thing she could find to write on was a paper plate. Apparently, it got thrown in the trash at one point by accident but it was magically recovered.
It was in interesting time. I was talking about my job and explaining it to my son. He then had quite the time in kindergarten trying to convince the other kids on the playground that two women can get married and one of them can even be a grandma! He told me about it, not the teacher. :-)
After the rush
After a time, everyone was married. Not everyone, but many of those who had been waiting, was. Now, gay marriage is just like any other marriage. I like it that way. Equality. Before gay marriage, crazy straight couples were running down to the courthouse to get married on a whim and getting divorced a few months later. Now, gay couples can do that too! And yes, they do. To be fair, there gay couples that have been together for years that didn’t rush to get married. They get married when they actually need to. With all long-term couples, when they do get married, I ask “why now?’ The answer is always, “because it’s time.”
Times are changing!
Last year, I married two young women who got saved while in basic training. That statement really says it all. Not so long ago, gay and Christian didn't really go together. Neither did openly gay and the military. The only weird part of their story is why they hired me. Apparently, their pastor was more than happy to marry them, however, to go along with the ceremony he would have to use, one of them would have to be the husband and the other would have to be the wife. I'm not sure I quite understood the story correctly. They were a sweet couple and I was happy to marry them!
I've learned a lot over the past 4 years and I'm still learning. I had a young woman sit across from me at my kitchen table and explain gender fluidity to me. I was so happy that she took the time to explain it to me because I really didn't understand and I really didn't know how to ask without possibly offending anyone. I had a hard time keeping my pronouns straight at my first transgender wedding. But I'm open. My heart is in the right place and I want to learn and I want to understand.
As a wedding officiant, it's really rare now to have awkward situations at LGBTQ weddings. While there was a time I was hired to perform the wedding because there was “a situation” with someone’s sexual preference and it was a big deal. It might be a brother or a sister or a person in the bridal party. Today, If there are troublemakers, they simply aren't invited. Nobody has time for that.
Sometimes, the people in our lives that we love have a hard time putting gay and marriage together. I'm happy to offer my services in those situations, as a person that is open and neutral. I'm not going to take one side or the other. I'm going to find common ground and concentrate on that. Your wedding is about declaring your love and devotion, vowing to be there through anything. It really doesn't matter what gender you are, what color you are or what you're wearing. It's about love.
If you are looking for a wedding Officiant to marry you in Indianapolis or anywhere in Indiana, I’d love to have the opportunity to officiate your wedding. No matter your situation, I’d hope I have the open heart and the open mind to help make your wedding day special and magical. If you have any questions about my services, please ask. I’m happy to help.