How do you keep your prices low for the quality of ceremony you perform?
A few ways. First, I serve a limited local area so I don't have to charge you for travel time.
Second, I focus on the most important parts of the process, which are: identifying the ceremony elements you want, personalizing the ceremony, and performing the ceremony itself with grace and warmth. There's no complex ceremony customization process with multiple interviews and questionnaires.
Third, I don't spend time and money on advertising and social media presence. I don't need to! I work almost exclusively from referrals from venues and planners I've worked with before, couples I've married, and from other officiants.
Fourth, I'm an experienced writer and public speaker, able to roll with whatever the day brings.
Last but not least, I don't offer rehearsals, so I don't have to build into my rate the time it takes to travel and conduct them. You can read more about my reasons for that above.
How do we get a marriage license in Covid times?
Most City Clerks' offices are almost back to normal opening hours and processes. You can get a marriage license in any city or town in the state, regardless of the city or town you'll be married in, which means that you can apply at the town offices that are most convenient to you.
Most towns' websites have up-to-date info on applying for the license.Boston City Hall is busy enough that they are issuing licenses by appointment only and are booking up a month out. If you have trouble finding a way to get a license, let me know and I can provide some tips that worked at the height of the pandemic.You'll also get a reminder from me about applying for your license.
After you're married, I handle the submission of the form back to the originating town.
What kind of ceremonies do you perform?
I perform warm, fun, joyful, personal, nonreligious ceremonies that sometimes incorporate interfaith or cultural elements.
I don't perform rituals that use restricted religious items, or that guests would reasonably think were religious if they were performed or used by a spiritual leader of a specific religion--for instance, distribute communion, consecrate bread and wine, wear a headdress, ritualistic chanting, smudging, etc. However, I'm happy to co-officiate with other religious leaders you would like to include in your day.
How often will we meet, where, and how?
Most couples can tell if we're a good fit based on poking around this site. If you want to confirm we are, we can start with a complimentary 30 minute phone call or video chat. If you want me as your officiant, I'll send you a letter of agreement and a link to pay a retainer fee.
Then there's just one form where you provide the basics about the ceremony logistics, make some choices around wording, and answer a few questions about your specific relationship.
Before the wedding I'll be in touch to remind you to get your license.
After the wedding I'll send you a reminder to pay the balance of my fee, and I confirm that I submitted your license back to the correct city clerk.
That's it--and most couples feel like we've been friends a while by the day of the wedding!
What do you charge and what's included (and not included)?
Prices are $350 for non-peak dates and $650 for peak dates. Cambridge Courthouse weddings are $150. You can find more detail on the Pricing and Process page.
The fee is a flat fee that includes creating the ceremony, sourcing readings, coordinating with other vendors, reminders to get your license, travel to and from the ceremony site, performance of the wedding ceremony itself, and submission of the license.
Not included but available for an additional fee:
If there's anything I missed, or anything you have a question about, just ask! Stressful money conversations are the worst, so I do my best to be straightforward.
Humanist vow writing workbook
Feedback on vows
What do you wear?
My default attire is a black pants & shirt combo or dress, heels, and funky earrings. Sometimes I wear a black suit and nice blouse, or a funky dress. Often it depends on the weather! I don't wear religious style robes or accessories (stole, collar, etc.). My favorite outfit is the black suit and my high tops. If that sounds like you, let me know :-)
How long will the ceremony be?
Most ceremonies are 15-25 minutes long. If you want something very crisp, the ceremony can be about 10 minutes long. The longest ceremonies are about 30 minutes long and include multiple readings or perhaps live music. My promise to you is that the ceremony is only as long as it needs to be, and no longer. I don't pack my ceremonies with extra stuff just to try to make them feel more special.
But no matter how long it is, it will bring you and your guests through the same emotional arc and out the other side to your new, amazing, married state.
Do you offer rehearsals?
Nope! The meaningful moments between the two of you, in front of your friends and family, aren't created by or improved by a rehearsal. And if my conversations with couples are any indication, rehearsals have become another vector of anxiety and stress. By all means, get together with friends and family to relax before the wedding. You have my permission to do that without going through a rehearsal!
I do offer verbal walk-throughs if it helps calm your nerves. And you'll get an outline of the ceremony so you know how it will flow.
During the ceremony itself, it's my job to take care of you. I'm clear from moment to moment to let you know what's coming up and what you need to do. You can (and should!) just relax and be there with each other.
Prior to your wedding day, I connect with any other vendors whose roles impact the ceremony. Many of us have worked together before and will already be up to speed on how to ensure your ceremony goes smoothly.
Can friends and family participate in the ceremony?
Absolutely! There are many opportunities for you to honor and include family and friends in the ceremony. While it increases the complexity (and fun), children and pets are welcome, too!
Can we write our own vows?
Of course! Even though vows are not required, I encourage you to write your own. You can also reflect on some I've created & curated, to draw on elements for your own.
For a separate fee, I also provide a nonreligious workbook to help you write vows. This workbook will guide you through exercises and conversations about what marriage means to you, where there are differences and similarities in your priorities, your hopes and fears about marriage, and the specific promises you are making to each other. They touch on topics like communication, conflict, families of origin, commitment/fidelity, equity, power, and partnership.
Let me know if you're interested in learning more.
Can we include a personal reading or live music in the ceremony?
Readings and live music are wonderful additions to a ceremony and very easy to incorporate to the overall flow. I have a library of nontraditional, nonreligious readings you can browse. Or you can always bring your own. There's a very appropriate place in the ceremony to fold in a reading.
For music, all I really need to know is that you're planning on it and we can figure out where in the ceremony it makes sense. You'll need to coordinate with the musicians or DJ, and with the ceremony location, to make sure the technical aspects are handled for the site of the wedding.
Can we receive premarital counseling from you?
I'm a strong believer in trained counselors handling relationship issues, and I can refer you to some who work specifically with engaged couples on marriage preparation.
However, I do provide a nonreligious workbook to help you write vows. This workbook will guide you through exercises and conversations about what marriage means to you, where there are differences and similarities in your priorities, your hopes and fears about marriage, and the specific promises you are making to each other. They touch on topics like communication, conflict, families of origin, commitment/fidelity, equity, power, and partnership.
Let me know if you're interested in learning more.
What is the best way to contact you?
I'm reachable via text, phone or email. 617-682-0570 or Beth [at] WellwedByBeth [dot] com You can expect me to get back to you between 9am - 5pm weekdays.
What are your precautions related to Covid-19?
First of all, I hope you are well and handling any physical risks and community concerns associated with Covid-19.
As of early May, I'm fullly vaccinated, and so is my entire household. My precautions since March 2020 have included conducting ceremonies only outdoors (even in snow!); remaining masked during ceremonies, especially because my role includes significant speaking; standing at least six feet away from couples during the ceremony; and sanitizing my hands on arrival to the ceremony site.
What about rituals like handfasting or candle lighting?
Some couples feel strongly about additional rituals. While I have created and performed rituals like these in past ceremonies, I've come to see them as crowding the ceremony. There are already a lot of rituals in a "normal" ceremony: your clothing, your choice of a special setting or venue, where you stand during the ceremony, declarations of intent, an exchange of rings, vows, and kissing. These already significantly heighten the attention and intention of what we're there to do. My professional opinion is that you don't need even more rituals.
However, if you want to include rituals that draw on your culture or heritage, my goal in supporting you would be to find a way to do it with a minimum of stress. Again, if you're going for a lovely and low-stress ceremony, I encourage you to focus on the most essential parts like your vows.
How do you make sure everything goes smoothly?
Before your wedding day, I'm in touch with everyone else who's helping make your ceremony a success. If you're working with a coordinator, venue, musician, or photographer, then we all coordinate behind the scenes. Many of us know each other and have warm working relationships behind the scenes to make your wedding day as happy as possible.
I also arrive up to an hour before the ceremony to do common-sense stuff like check the sound system, make sure the rings are with the right person, and confirm you have a copy of anything you're reading like vows.
Are you legally allowed to marry us?
Yes! I'm formally recognized as an officiant in all 50 states.
Beyond that, I'm also very experienced with the paperwork side of weddings. Returning your license back to the city clerk is done efficiently and professionally with a professional officiant. No need to wonder if you're actually married.
Are you a minister, Justice of the Peace, officiant, celebrant, or....?!?
You are not alone in being confused by the different types of people who can marry you!
Because of the way the United States legislates marriage, and the overlap of church and state, it
is confusing. The short answer is that I'm a officiant who acquired legal designation for that role by becoming a clergy member of a religion (Humanism) that does not acknowledge any supernatural beings like gods, angels, devils, etc. Humanists are the "nones" --agnostics, atheists, nonbelievers, and spiritual-not-religious.
The longer answer and explantion is:
Anyone who has legal permission to marry a couple in the U.S. is an officiant. That's the generic term used throughout the country. So I am an officiant above all. Humanism is designated as a nontheistic "religion" by the US government, so I'm a Humanist clergy in the eyes of the state. And, since I've been trained in the history and craft of rituals & ceremonies, I also call myself a celebrant.
Historically, weddings were performed only by religious leaders, like priests, rabbis, imams and others. Those folks are still basically officiants, but you need to belong to that religion to be married by them. And the ceremony for each religion usually follows a required format for that religion.
As the demographics of the country evolved, there was a need to marry people who didn't subscribe to a religion. So the role of Justice of the Peace was granted powers to marry people. They're government employees who perform the most basic legal ceremonies and are not allowed to charge more for than $150 to marry you. Because of this limit, and in order to achieve a living wage, many JPs will either offer additional services to you in order to earn more, or they will perform the same exact ceremony for all couples.
Some nontheist communities, like The Humanist Society and the Society for Ethical Culure, wanted ways to marry their community members, so these two organizations were granted 'religious designation' for the purposes of officiating wedding ceremonies. Even though they're nonreligious, their officiants are still called ministers or clergy. It's a gap in the language because the federal government hasn't recognized a nonreligious term. I'm a Humanist clergy in the eyes of the state, even though I don't practice a religion.
When this opening was made for nonreligious groups to be designated "religions," many groups created their own mock religions in order to get in on the business of marrying people. That's where "religions" like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster come from. Some organizations were formed in good faith, like American Marriage Ministries and others, but many of the other organizations are essentially cashing in on a loophole in the system.
none of these roles imply any level of training except celebrant. They only cover an officiant's legal right to marry people. Most officiants enter into the role in good faith, and do research and learn how to put together a ceremony. However, Celebrants are people who are trained in the history and design of ceremony, in public speaking, and in managing the ceremony event, and who then go on to be endorsed in one of the ways above to legally officiate weddings.
What is humanism? Is it a religion?
Humanism is an established life outlook based on the belief that humans can lead ethical, harmonius lives without a god. Humanists are guided by reason, compassion, and experience. "Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner." And we have a manifesto!
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
You can read more about Humanism
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.
Do we have to be humanist for you to marry us?
Nope! Humanist officiants can marry people of any religion who happen to want a nonreligious ceremony. So you might be Catholic, Jewish, Jain, Muslim or other, and for whatever reason you want to have a wedding ceremony that doesn't add highly religious elements to create meaning and joy.
Can our wedding have spiritual aspects or religious elements?
I believe there's deep meaning and connection available to us through nature, science, poetry, literature, art, and our most ambitious human endeavors, and I usually bring these elements into the ceremonies I officiate. If that matches your idea of spirituality, we're a good fit!
You might be considering elements that fall in the gray area between religious and cultural. These can be worked in. There are many cultural "light touches" that bring meaning to your ceremony without adding more stress. Some examples are smashing a glass after your kiss, circling a symbolic fire, a ritual tea ceremony.
Firmly religious readings can be included by having a friend or family member read them. As a Humanist, I don't deliver religious texts or perform religious rituals in a way that would imply I believe in a god, gods, or goddesses. It would be like asking a Catholic priest to talk about yin and yang as a sacrament, or asking a rabbi to talk about Jesus as the risen savior.
Do we have to be pronounced husband and wife?
Not at all! I pronounce couples all sorts of things upon being married. Some of my favorites are
- magnificently married
- husband and husband, wife and wife
- perfectly suited for each other
- spicy spouses for life