Before you can exchange your wedding vows, you’ll need to find an officiant licensed in your state who can marry you and your mate.
If you’re having a religious wedding, your priest, rabbi or other clergy person will probably be the one to marry you and your intended. But when you’re planning a non-denominational ceremony, hiring a justice of the peace or other secular official can be essential. This allows you to decide what traditions you want to include or skip in your wedding. This can also be an option for same sex couples wanting to get married.
Hiring A Justice Of The Peace
Keep in mind that you spent months of visiting bridal boutiques in your hunt to find the perfect wedding gowns and deciding on your bridesmaid dresses was a subject of major stress. But how much energy and thought have you spend to find the right justice of the peace to perform your wedding? Many couples take the first person they find who is licensed and available on their date. This is fine but just make sure that you and whomever you hire are on the same page in how you envision your special day.
A Changing Role
In the past, a justice of the peace was an official position charged with maintaining peace and order within the jurisdiction. Back then, this position was considered very prestigious (although it usually was not paid). Over time, the role has shifted to mean different things in different places. What does remain consistent in the United States, though, is that most justices are licensed in their state to perform a wedding or civil union and most of the time they are now paid. Other services a justice of the peace may now offer include notarizing legal forms and documents and issuing subpoenas and other types of court documents.
In some jurisdictions, the power of a justice of the peace even extends to arresting people for minor legal infractions, such as traffic and license violations. Some justice of the peace positions are filled as fulltime government employees, while others are very part-time gigs. In addition, some justices are appointed, while others are elected positions.
How To Find A Justice Of The Peace
If you’re looking for a justice of the peace, you may want to start with some of online wedding resources such as The Knot, the Wedding Channel and Brides. You can also use a range of specific “justice of the peace” directories. For instance, there’s the National Directory of Justices of the Peace and Find a Justice. Or ask family and friends if they can offer any recommendations. Some local courthouses also have a directory of justices on their website. Finally, attend local wedding expos to find officiants who are available in your area.
Requirements For The Job
Keep in mind that not all justices of the peace you can find will be equal. Exactly what each one will bring to your wedding alter will really depend on who you hire and the area in which you live. In many parts of the country, there aren’t any specific educational or job requirements. However, some locations do require that a justice of the peace have a juris doctorate degree and/or experience as a lawyer or judge first. When selecting a justice of the peace, these factors are less important than the justice’s style and tone and how he will approach the wedding ceremony. Therefore, most wedding experts recommend meeting with anyone you are considering in advance and finding out if you feel comfortable with him and like the way he will perform your ceremony. If you don’t click with one person, you shouldn’t settle but should find someone else who feels like a better fit for your expectations.