- What is a nondenominational minister?
- How do nondenominational ministers differ from other officiants?
- Why choose a nondenominational minister?
- Are weddings performed by a nondenominational minister legal in all fifty states?
- How do nondenominational ministers get paid?
Services and Fees
- The Initial Consultation
- Services and Fees
- Client/Officiant Meetings
- The Booking Process
- The Planning Process
- The Ceremony Text
- Special Needs and Situations
- Other Ceremonies
What is a nondenominational minister?
A non-denominational minister is someone who is ordained by a church or other institution identifying itself as nondenominational. In this context, the terms "church" and "minister" are generic and include all faiths and religions under their large umbrella.
An example of a nondenominational church is the Universal Life Church based in Modesto, California. I was ordained by the Universal Life Church in 1987.
How do nondenominational ministers differ from other officiants (e.g. Justice of the Peace; rabbi; priest; or denominational minister)?
Officiants affiliated with a particular religious denomination (e.g., Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim) are bound by a prescribed liturgy. Secular Justices of the Peace usually offer only one standardized text. Nondenominational ministers are free to create a text based on your wishes, values, and beliefs, which makes for a more personalized and creative ceremony and a more collaborative wedding planning experience.
Why choose a nondenominational minister?
The non-denominational minister is ideal for many couples today, including:
- those wanting a spiritual but not religious ceremony
- interfaith partners who want a ceremony reflecting both their faiths
- those wanting a civil (non-religious) ceremony that is more personal than what is provided at City Hall
- same-sex couples whose union is not yet sanctioned by the state or the religious institution they were raised in
Are weddings performed by a nondenominational minister legal in all fifty states?
Yes. As a nondenominational minister, I have the same rights and responsibilities as any other officiant who performs wedding ceremonies. For details on the legal requirements to be an officiant, click on choosing an officiant.
How do nondenominational ministers get paid?
Unlike a priest, minister or rabbi, who is usually hired and employed by the congregation of a denominational church, nondenominational ministers are usually self-employed. They set their own fees and can offer a range of services depending on clients' needs.
The Initial Consultation
Do you offer a free initial consultation?
What happens at the free initial consultation?
The consultation is a time for us to get acquainted; for you to get an overview of my background and how I work with clients; to ask questions about ceremonies and ceremony planning; and for me to get a sense of some ideas you may have for your ceremony. The consultation is also an opportunity for you to consider the intangibles in your decision-making process; e.g., does the chemistry feel right between us (do we seem like a good match in personalities and style)?
How long is the initial consultation?
How do we arrange a consultation?
Click on the CONTACT link.
What is your fee structure?
I have a flexible fee range depending on the extent of my role in creating or adapting your ceremony text and planning your ceremony structure. Click on SERVICES AND FEES.
What services do you provide when working with clients?
Click on SERVICES AND FEES.
Where would our meetings take place?
I meet with clients at my home in the Noe Valley section of San Francisco. There is convenient access by car from the East Bay, South Bay and Peninsula, as well as by public transit (BART and MUNI).
Are you available to meet evenings and weekends?
I’m available both days and evenings during the week and on the weekends when I’m not performing a ceremony. I do my best to accommodate your schedule.
Is your home wheelchair accessible?
Unfortunately, no. But, if necessary, we can meet at an alternative mutually convenient accessible site.
The Booking Process
How much in advance would we need to book you?
I like to book weddings approximately 3- 6 months in advance but am flexible.
Can you do a ceremony on short notice?
Yes. But depending on how short the notice is, it may affect my availability for the planning meeting (see Planning Process below) and/or may preclude the option of customizing the text.
We’ve decided we want you. What happens next?
First, you send me a 50% deposit which secures your date on my calendar.
Then I send you a Resource Packet so you can begin (or expand) the process of planning what your want for your wedding.
Finally, after you’ve had sufficient time to review the resource materials and edit my sample ceremony, we set up a planning meeting (lasting approximately 2 hours) to work out the ceremony text and logistics. If needed, a second meeting is available at no additional charge.
The Planning Process
How much time will the ceremony planning process take?
The amount of time needed for the planning process is up to you. The greater the role the two of you want in modifying or creating your ceremony text, the more of your time will be required. Details about this are covered at The Initial Consultation. Typically, planning a standard ceremony would take a total of about seven hours (3-4 hours of meeting time plus several hours between meetings for you to think about your ceremony and read through the Resource Packet. Planning a custom ceremony typically takes an additional hour or two for a total of ten hours. (See SERVICES AND FEES)
What if we don’t know exactly what we want before we meet with you?
You’re not expected to! That’s what I’m here for. My job is to help you discover and clarify what you want through careful listening, questioning, and discussion; then, on my own or collaborating with you, to fashion your ideas and wishes into a coherent and artistically designed ceremony.
What does the Resource Packet consist of?
The packet consists of a variety of materials I have put together over the years designed to assist you in planning your wedding ceremony (e.g., a recommended reading list, selected quotations about love and marriage, and suggested special ceremony rituals.) A copy of the Resource Packet is available for clients to peruse at The Initial Consultation.
The Ceremony Text
We’d like a personalized ceremony. Does that mean we have to create one from scratch?
Not at all. Typically, my clients use one of my sample ceremonies as a starting point and edit it as part of their preparation for the 2-hour planning meeting. Then, at the planning meeting, I offer suggestions to improve the flow from one section to another, clarify intention of a ritual, tighten up the timing, tweak the wording, etc.
How can we create a personalized ceremony on a limited budget?
Creating a personalized ceremony is limited more by your imagination than your budget. For some ideas, click on my article TEN SIMPLE WAYS TO PERSONALIZE YOUR CEREMONY. Details on this subject are also covered in our consultation and planning meeting(s).
Do you have any sample ceremonies we could look at?
Yes. I send prospective clients a sample prior to our initial consultation. The sample is a composite of various ceremonies I’ve performed over the years. There are a few different versions of the sample depending on your particular situation and interests (e.g., an interfaith ceremony, a same-sex ceremony, a full-length ceremony incorporating readings and special rituals, or a shorter version without readings or rituals).
We’re not interested in a customized text. Can you provide one “off the shelf”?
We found a ceremony we really like but don’t have an officiant to perform it. Would you perform a ceremony written by someone else?
Yes, so long as it’s in the public domain (not copyrighted).
We like some but not all of your ceremony. Can we mix-and-match a text of our own or from other sources with yours?
By all means.
Special Needs And Situations
I am experienced and skillful in handling a variety of special needs and situations, including:
- Accommodating the needs of divorced parents, stepchildren, or estranged family members;
- Planning ceremonies when one or both partners live out of town;
- Performing ceremonies on short notice;
- Interfaith, interracial, or same sex ceremonies;
- Identifying “hidden” outdoor ceremony sites that don’t require a fee or reservation;
- Performing private ceremonies that don’t include guests or witnesses;
- Ceremonies that include non-English text (if already translated). I can recite text in Spanish, Italian, French, transliterated Hebrew, and American Sign Language.
- Working with persons with disabilities.
Do you perform other ceremonies besides weddings and commitment ceremonies?
Yes. Click on OTHER CEREMONIES.