FREQUENTLY ASKED...

What’s included in a Completely Custom ceremony?


- Performance of the wedding ceremony - Unlimited meetings to elicit and craft your unique ceremony. Drafts until four weeks before your wedding date. Meetings can be in person or virtual, whichever is most convenient. - Personalized ceremony incorporating themes, stories, readings and a ritual that are meaningful to you as a couple. - Coordination with your wedding day team (venue manager, wedding planner, photographer, musicians, and DJ). Reference sheets for each, to ensure the correct timing, amplification, cues, materials, vantage points, etc. for your personal ceremony. - Small PA system as needed. - Completion of your marriage license and filing with the state, with proof of submission. - Commemorative and symbolic wedding certificate, suitable for framing




What’s included in Elopements, Pop-Up's, Micro and Last-Minute Ceremonies?


- Performance of the wedding ceremony - Personalized ceremony incorporating a theme and reading that is meaningful to you as a couple. - Small PA system as needed. - Completion of your marriage license and filing with the state, with proof of submission. - Commemorative and symbolic wedding certificate, suitable for framing, as well as a copy of your wedding ceremony and vows.




What’s the difference between officiants, celebrants, justices of the peace, and religious leaders (like a priest or rabbi)?


Officiant is the most general term for someone who the state has designated is legally allowed to solemnize a wedding. Celebrants, Justices of the Peace (JPs) and religious leaders are all, in a sense, officiants when they are performing weddings. Beyond that it gets more complicated. Celebrants are professionally trained officiants. They have often studied the history of ceremony, meaning of ceremonies and rituals through human existence, the basics of major religious beliefs as expressed through ceremony, as well as the practical skills at creating ceremonies that reflect the needs of honorees. Trained celebrants are likely to be aware of major religious rituals and to steer couples away from appropriation, while also being free to reshape or update traditional rituals into a cultural expression of your faith. For this reason, many atheist and “spiritual, not religious” people find a good fit with a celebrant. Celebrants also receive training and support in making sure they understand the legal responsibilities of performing a marriage in your particular state. Many celebrants provide ceremonial leadership and creativity for all kinds of life events, from birth and baby-naming, to coming-of-age and weddings, to funerals and memorial services. Becoming a celebrant is just part of the process. They also need to be recognized by the state they perform in. To that end, they affiliate themselves with organizations who are recognized federally as having some religious protections. Some of these, like the American Humanist Society to which I belong, may be atheist and have congregations. Priests, imams, rabbis, etc. If you want to include highly religious rituals in your ceremony (like Communion or recitation of Torah blessings), you probably want a religious minister for your ceremony. A religious or congregational minister is someone from a faith tradition who has been through divinity school or seminary, or preaches to a congregation. Religious leaders often provide services and perform weddings only for those people who belong to their faith or who are members of their congregation. Justices of the Peace perform the basic civil (non-religious) option for making your marriage legal according to the government. While JPs are allowed to create personal ceremonies, they are not allowed to charge more than $150 to create and perform your ceremony. This understandably discourages many JPs from spending much time on a personal or custom ceremony. Instead, JPs may charge for prenuptial counseling, meeting time, or things like providing flowers, music, or photos. If you think you might like one person to provide a “soup to nuts” package from counseling to photos, a JP might be a good choice for you. ( Reference) Finally, online ministers or " one day officiants" are either trained or untrained ministers, or a friend/family member of the marrying couple who gets "ordained" online. There is no training and no real standards of online ministers, and usually no process besides filling out an order form online. Most virtual organizations have met a federal standard for being ‘religious’ in some way, like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Church of the Latter day Dude (“Dudeism”), but not all states, counties, cities or municipalities recognize all virtual religious organizations, so you'll need to check to be sure. While friends and family members can ensure a personal ceremony, they might not have training in creating a ceremony, or be clear about how to meet the legal requirements of performing the wedding. So there might be a little extra work for you to ensure they’re meeting the various requirements of the state in which you’re getting married.




Can you provide guidance on the marriage license process? Where are you authorized to officiate?


Sure thing! I'm able to officiate weddings in all of New England and actually in all 50 states. If you've got something unconventional in mind--maybe marriage at sea, rock climbing, on bicycles, or in a bowling alley--I'm your person! Here are links to the New England states' official guides on applying for a marriage license (as of December 2019). Massachusetts Rhode Island Vermont New Hampshire Maine




What kind of ceremonies do you perform?


I perform warm, fun, joyful, personal, non-religious ceremonies that sometimes incorporate interfaith or cultural elements. I'm happy to co-officiate with other religious leaders you would like to include in your day. I do not perform highly religious rituals that use restricted items, or rituals 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, professional chanting, smudging, etc. However, these rituals or items often reflect archetypal human elements and symbols, and there's almost always a way to create a unique ceremony with similar gravitas or meaning. Above all, I'm creative!




How often will we meet, where, and how?


I'm happy to meet in person or virtually, and coordinating via text or email is great. If we meet in person, I usually meet at someplace convenient to us both, where we can have a semi-private conversation, like a cafe or shared work space. You'll (both) get to tell me your hopes, wants, must-have's, ideas, fantasies, must-not's, and already-have's to create the structure of your ceremony, and then the content of your ceremony. There will be reflection and writing in-between these meetings for you to do on your own. Additionally, we may meet or you may set aside some time to provide feedback on the ceremony structure and rituals, to review drafts, to write or review vows, and to provide vendor contact info so that together I can form part of the net beneath the two of you on the big day.




What do you charge and what's included (and not included)?


Prices are listed on the page describing Ceremonies. Some typical additions are rehearsals and vow writing or vow editing. Once I know where your wedding ceremony will be, I factor in a flat travel fee and share that in your proposal, so all of the costs are clear and included up front. 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.




What do you wear?


My default attire is a black 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?


As long as it needs to be, and no longer. Whether your ceremony is 10 minutes or an hour, it should bring you and your guests through the same emotional arc and out the other side to your new, amazing, married state. When everything in the ceremony is there for a reason, it keeps the emotional journey active through this ritualized and extra-ordinary time. While I use your particular story and relationship for the content of the ceremony, I also lend expertise on the form, structure, and progression through an emotional arc, and will advocate for things that are meaningful, placed at evocative moments of the ceremony.




Do you coordinate rehearsals?


Yes, if you'd like me to. I recommend it with a ceremony that will be unusual, long, or includes many participants (including non-humans!). The rehearsal is an add-on an option described on the Ceremonies page.




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! While vows are not required, if you want to profess vows to each other, I encourage you to write your own. If either or both of you want prompts, structure, suggestions, or help writing your vows, I'm happy to help there, too. For a fee, I also provide a review and editing pass to ensure your vows are complementary in length, tone, and content.




Are there other personal touches we can add on to our ceremony?


Your ceremony will be tailored to your vibe, interests, values, and traditions no matter which option you choose, through theme, readings, and language. Meaningful rituals like handfasting, candle lighting, etc. are also easy to incorporate. And we can ALWAYS create new rituals to express what joining together means to the two of you.




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, as part of the ceremony creation process we WILL dive into what marriage means to you, where there are differences and similarities, your hopes and fears about marriage, and the specific promises you are making to each other. That means we touch on topics like communication, conflict, families of origin, commitment/fidelity, equity, power, and partnership.




What is the best way to contact you?


I'm reachable via text, call or email me! 617-682-0570 or Beth [at] WellwedByBeth [dot] com You can expect me to get back to you between 10am - 5pm weekdays.





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Serving the Greater Boston area, Los Angeles, CA + destinations.

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© 2020 Beth Stokes