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Are you a Justice of the Peace?

No, I am a retired Judge of the District Court where I served for 24 years in the Tenth Judicial District with my principal office and courtroom in Stillwater, MN. As a retired Judge of District Court I am authorized to officiate wedding ceremonies as I have since 1983. I have officiated at thousands of wedding ceremonies throughout the State of Minnesota and in other jurisdictions as allowed by local practice and law.
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NEW APP AVAILABLE!

For those who are technologically inclined, there is now an App designed to assist you in your wedding planning. iWedding Deluxe is the iPhone wedding planner app that will organize and inspire you while keeping all your vital information at your fingertips. It is super comprehensive and will assist you to organize and guide you on your path toward the big day. It features to-do lists, budgeting assistants, countdowns, guest list organization, shopping information, an RSVP tracker and more. You can also work on your seating plans and keep photos of ideas that inspire you or dresses that you might want to show a salesperson. You can obtain the app iWedding Deluxe for $5.99 on iTunes where you can also check out reviews of this tremendous wedding resource.
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Are you a Minister/Reverend?

Yes, I am a licensed, ordained non-denominational interfaith minister/reverend authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in Minnesota and throughout the United States upon compliance with local rules and statutes. If you wish, I can add a spiritual dimension to your ceremony. As a non-denominational minister, I have the freedom to perform your ceremony in a way that best reflects your spiritual beliefs, style and values.

I do not require couples to participate in nor do I offer pre-marital counseling.

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Do you officiate wedding ceremonies only in the St. Croix Valley?

No, I will travel to any location in Minnesota as arranged by me and the Bride and Groom. My home is located in Stillwater and in my career, I have become very familiar with the facilities available in the St. Croix Valley and can provide professional wedding advice on locations and arrangements. I have performed ceremonies in balloons, on boats of all sizes, public and private parks and gardens, in numerous public building and lots of back yards, to name just a few. They are all fun and each presents its unique challenges and opportunities. One of my favorites is dressing as an umpire standing at home plate at St. Paul Municipal Stadium to perform a wedding ceremony on the PA system before a St. Paul Saints baseball game. The pig stole the show. In Sept. 2010, I performed a ceremony at home plate at Target Field in Minneapolis. It was awesome. I live in a hockey family and I am an ice skater. Some of the most fun and interesting ceremonies' are the ones I have officiated on skates at center ice. I am flexible and creative and can provide insight into your wedding ceremony based on my many years of experience. I may charge an additional fee to be agreed upon in advance to travel to a remote location. My fees are described in the question regarding fees, below.
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What services do you provide?

I will assist you to prepare the ceremony. You may use one of the sample ceremonies without modification, or use parts of different ceremonies to create your own. Also, be sure to take a look at the additional suggestions for vows and readings I have included. You should incorporate your own ideas. After you have assembled the ceremony, mail, or e-mail it to me for my review. Through our communications, we will create the ceremony you want. I encourage you to call, fax, mail or e-mail me to be certain you are satisfied with the ceremony I will perform.

On your wedding day, I will arrive at the location early and talk with everyone involved including the Bride and Groom, attendants, readers, photographers, musicians, DJ's, etc. to make sure everyone is prepared and the ceremony will be just as you want it. I will also want to complete the Marriage Certificate before the ceremony. You should designate at least two witnesses to sign the Certificate who are over 16 years old. My experience has been that signing the Certificate before the ceremony is preferable because the witnesses may not be readily available after the ceremony.

Depending on the County issuing the License, the Bride and Groom will be provided with a duplicate souvenir copy of the Marriage Certificate, I keep a copy for my records, and I mail or deliver the original to the appropriate office in the county in which you purchased it for recording. A certified copy of the original, recorded Marriage Certificate will be mailed to you for use in changing your name or other purposes. Please remember to bring the Marriage Certificate with you to the ceremony because it is difficult to complete the legal requirements for execution when the witnesses, officiant and Bride and Groom are not together.

For Marriage Certificates issued in Hennepin County, the Bride and Groom are required to sign the Certificate using their names as they will be after the wedding. I recommend the Bride and Groom sign the Hennepin County Marriage Certificate before the ceremony when they are less busy than on their wedding day. It must be signed in black or blue ink.
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How much do you charge?

For the metropolitan Twin Cities including the Counties of Washington, Ramsey, Hennepin, Dakota, Anoka, Scott, Sherburne and Chisago, I charge $350 for my services with a $50 non-refundable deposit payable when the ceremony is booked. For locations on the fringes of the Twin Cities such as the Arboretum in Chanhassen, Red Wing in Goodhue County and the western part of Hennepin County, I charge $450. In recent years, the traffic congestion results in longer drive times to distant locations and a slightly higher fee. For weddings outside the Metro area, the fee is generally proportionate to the distance from my home in Stillwater.

I perform ceremonies at nearly any time during the normal work week at the Washington County Government Center for $100 fee, and at my home in Stillwater for $150. For these ceremonies, I use a short, standard, but meaningful ceremony, but you may design your own ceremony, if you wish. These ceremonies usually take less than an hour.

As a result of increased security, access to the Washington County Courthouse at the Government Center, not the Historic Courthouse, is limited to Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and all ceremonies must be scheduled and completed between those hours. In other words, no after hours or weekend ceremonies will be allowed. I am sorry about this limitation, but officiants have no authority to override the decision of Washington County.
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What do I do about a ceremony?

It is not as hard as you think. Take a look at the sample ceremonies available on my web site. You may wish to use all of one, or parts of one and parts of another. There is no "set" ceremony. Be creative and always remember, it is your wedding and the ceremony should include your personal thoughts and dreams. I encourage you to include some personal promises and vows. For example, the Bride and Groom write their own vows and incorporate these into the ceremony. It is best to write these vows on a note card to read during the ceremony. Do not attempt to memorize them unless you are really good at it and have the time. Remember, in the weeks before the ceremony, things get busier and busier so the best intentions of writing and memorizing the vows get lost in the hectic preparations. Write them out, and give them to me and I can read them for you or hand them to you to read at the appropriate time. I will return them to you after the ceremony to keep as a significant remembrance of your personal thoughts and dreams on your wedding day.

There are lots of other sources of vows, and you are encouraged to investigate the internet and anywhere else to find the thought that is just right for you. Here are a couple of suggestions: weddingweddings.com, weddingchannel.com and theknot.com
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Do you have facilities to host a wedding ceremony?

I live in Stillwater on the bluff overlooking the St. Croix River. The photo at the top of this page is of me standing on my deck. I host small weddings at my home and use either my deck, side yard or living room. Attendance is limited to 16 persons, including the Bride and Groom and the charge for one hour, ceremony included, is $350 on Fridays after 3:00 p.m. and on weekends.
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What should I do first in planning my wedding?

I recommend you reserve a wedding location and establish a time for the ceremony. It is important to set the time and stick to it. Many officiants are busy, and want to make sure they have an adequate time to prepare for and perform the ceremony. An officiant my be scheduled in several locations some distance from each other and need to plan properly to fulfill all the expectations and requirements. I always allow a sufficient time to complete all my obligations, but to do so, I have to know what is expected and when. So, when you communicate with me about your wedding ceremony, the most important two items of information I need are the location of the ceremony and the time. Furthermore, if the time of ceremony changes during the planning stages, I have to be informed immediately to assure I will be able to fit the new time into my schedule. If for some reason I am unable to adjust to the new schedule, I will do my best to obtain another officiant to work with you. This does not happen often, but I understand occasionally changes are necessary and over the years, I have been able to work with other officiants to assist me when needed. I assure you these are experienced and able persons who have personally officiated at many ceremonies. Alternatively, you are welcome to locate an alternative officiant and use all the material we have assembled for your ceremony.

I recommend you review the material available at www.bestweddings.com. Several years ago, I was in Rochester, NY, and obtained a copy of their wedding planner and found it to be as complete and easy to use as any available, and free! Even though it is designed for use in the Rochester area, the check lists and other suggestions are applicable anywhere. Their checklists are so good, I would like to reproduce them for you, but they are copyrighted. For local information, take a look at www.mspwedguide.com and www.perfectweddingguide.com.
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We are planning a marriage ceremony at our parents' home. Do you have any suggestions?

Do not underestimate the amount of work required. As discussed elsewhere in the FAQ's, self-catering the reception is a lot of work, but doable.

A different type of work will be required to prepare the location, usually a backyard for an outdoor event or a large room for indoors. Many times when I arrive at a home to perform a ceremony, a family member is literally still planting the last hosta or cleaning the last bathroom. An important event such as a marriage is a family milestone, so the hosts want to provide the best for their guests which often include new landscaping on the outside and painting on the inside. Before finalizing the decision on the location, make a realistic analysis of what is needed to bring the location to the level you expect. You may find the extra work is not worth it or there may not be enough time or resources to get it all done.

If you do choose a remote location, provide your guests with explicit, understandable directions to the ceremony. Drive to the location using the route most guests will take and pay attention to places which might be confusing and lead unknowing travelers in the wrong direction. You can reduce the possibility of losing the way with a couple of precautionary measures. Signs as stretegic turns and a map included with the invitaiton will show the way. Float a few balloons with your wedding colors to call attention to the directing signs. Remember to remove the signs and balloons after the big event.

It will not be perfect. If you insist on perfection, forget it. A few things may go wrong, but no one will remember or care, but the mistakes can provide some humorous memories as you view the video on your tenth anniversary surrounded by a couple of your children. Don't sweat the small stuff.
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Do you have any recommendations for locations for the ceremony?

I have performed ceremonies at hundreds of venues and I do not recommend some over others.

The St. Croix Valley and Stillwater area have everything you need to make your wedding special. Cities and villages up and down the Valley have gazebos and public places perfect for your wedding. Excursion and party boats operate out of Stillwater, Afton, Taylor's Falls and Hudson, WI. There are dozens of bed and breakfasts, restaurants, gardens, photographers, bakers, horse drawn carriages, trolleys, and even an authentic Venetian gondola at the Stillwater Docks.

You could start your planning with the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce at www.ilovestillwater.com, 651.439.4001.

Here is an idea for an intimate wedding. Many restaurants allow the use of their premises at various times for ceremonies and then serve lunch or dinner to the party. For example, the Garden room of the Lowell Inn in Stillwater is a romantic and interesting location. 651.439.1100; www.andiamo-ent.com

Eventually, I hope this web site will offer links to various wedding oriented services.
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Will you meet with the Bride and Groom?

Usually, all the arrangements can be completed by e-mail, fax, and telephone, but if you want to meet with me, I will meet with you either at my home or elsewhere. The Stillwater Public Library is a good location to meet and has excellent facilities to discuss your marriage plans.
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Do you do rehearsals?

I have been involved in the planning and performance of thousands of wedding ceremonies, and I do not require a rehearsal. If I attend a rehearsal, there is an additional charge of $200. If the rehearsal is on a Friday after 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday, the charge is $350.

I realize the Bride and Groom and attendants want the ceremony to proceed smoothly, and by the time of the rehearsal, a final draft of the ceremony should be available. It is preferable to have someone stand in for me during the rehearsal, but if something in the ceremony does not work as you want it, contact me to discuss changes as soon as possible.
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Do you have any recommendations for arrangement of the wedding party during the ceremony?

In traditional church ceremonies, the Bride and Groom face the officiant who faces the guests. In nearly all the ceremonies I perform, the Bride and Groom face each other and I perform the ceremony behind them facing the guests. This arrangement allows me to communicate more directly and effectively with the couple and the guests can see the Bride and Groom marry each other. Sometimes, depending on the venue, I perform the ceremony with my back to the guests which allows the guests to see the Bride and Groom and hear me. I usually move during the ceremony to avoid obstructing the guests' views and when necessary to communicate with the couple. I have no objection to the traditional arrangement, but have found every one wishes to see the Bride and Groom marry each other. If you prefer the traditional arrangement, or have some other in mind, let me know and we can plan accordingly, but even then I encourage you to face each other as much as possible during the ceremony. BR>
If you are shy, it won't be as difficult as you imagine. The repeat after me section of the ceremony is conducted slowly; using only a few carefully chosen words in phrases at a time. If this is a problem, I recommend you rehearse on your own so you are familiar with the phrases, which should be familiar to you.
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What about music during the ceremony?

Music should be an integral part of any wedding ceremony. At a minimum, processional music as the wedding party assembles, and recessional as it leaves. I have worked with hundreds of professional and amateur musicians and DJ's. It is easy working with the professionals because they are professionals and know what to do and when. They will begin the correct music, at the proper time, at the best sound level and transition as necessary. Amateurs have a little more trouble with this, but most get it right if they prepare for the occasion. The Bride and Groom should be certain to check and make sure the friend or family member who is helping with music is prepared. There are lots of cd's available which contain the usual wedding music, and if played at the proper time with the necessary sound level, they are perfectly acceptable. If you are burning your own cd, make sure it works on the system which will be available at the wedding site and that the person operating the system is properly instructed. I strongly recommend written directions on what to play and when.

If you insert live music into the body of the ceremony, the length is not important, but if you are using recorded music, try to make it short, no longer than 2 1/2 minutes. The guests enjoy live entertainment but become restless after too much recorded music. Remember, there is usually nothing else going on but the Bride and Groom standing either holding hands or looking into each other's eyes. Try it before the ceremony and see how it works. This does not apply when the music is a backdrop for the unity candle, rose distribution or some other activity.

Most DJ's have song lists for you to review in advance of the ceremony and the reception. I strongly suggest you review these carefull to select the songs you wish to play and the order in which they will be played. You may find there are songs on the list you just have to have and others you do not want under any circumstances. I know the DJ's appreciate it when you spend some time and effort to help them do the best job they can for you. Remember, they are professionals and want to do a professional job for you and your guests.
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What about photography during the ceremony?

Photographers and sometimes, videographers are an essential part of all weddings. We all want an enduring pictorial memory of this wonderful day.

I have worked with dozens of professional and amateur photographers and have no rules restricting their participation in the ceremony. When I arrive at the wedding, I always talk with the photographer or videographer to assist them in taking the shots they think they need.

I ask the Bride and Groom to let me know if they have any objection to guests photographing during the ceremony. I have no problem with this, but some find it is distracting so I like to review it with the Bride and Groom and let the guests know if it is okay.

Nearly all photographers have package plans designed to cover all or most of the photos you will want. This is a time for the family and friends to be together and you should consider that in your planning. The photographer will have lists of shots you should consider and you should study them and order what you want and need and think about other family members who might want to order copies of specific shots. The photographer wants your input on what you want and where you want it.
Most professional photgraphers have web sites where they will exhibit your photos as soon as they are able following the ceremony. These "galleries" will be password protected which allows you to provide access limited toS those you wish to have the opportunity to review the images for pleasure or for purchase. Remember, the photographers are professional and want to do a professional job for you to preserve the lovely the beautiful images of your wedding day forever.

There are lots of great wedding photographers, and you should be prepared to work hard to assist them to obtain the best results for you.
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Can we cater our own reception to reduce the cost, and not wind up totally frazzled on the big day?

Self-catering is a daunting challenge, but can be done with a lot of organization and assistance. One of the first decisions is to select a theme for the occasion. Will it be rustic Minnesota with walleye and wild rice? Or eclectic like a church pot luck dinner with some prepared deli trays alongside home made beans? Once the theme is established, the details should begin to fall into place.

Here are some suggestions:

Ask for help. Talented friends and family members will want to help, but be certain to write instructions for all the tasks and helpers.

Plan way ahead. Consider whether you have sufficient food storage and bathrooms to accommodate the guests. A rule of thumb is to provide a bathroom for every 50 guests. Think about whether you have enough electricity to power all the equipment.

Employ some help. You may wish to employ some local teenagers to help with set-up and cleaning, but be sure they are adequately supervised.

Don't overdo it. You cannot do everything. Substitute some simple food for more complicated offerings. Consider renting a popcorn machine instead of serving appetizers.

Maintain control of rental costs. China dinner plates, glassware and silver flatware add elegance to the occasion, but may be costly. Plastic may not be appropriate. Shop around at thrift stores, and then resell everything after the occasion at a website such as Craig's List or E-Bay.

Simplify. Choose foods which can be prepared in advance and which store well. You will be too busy to do last minute cooking and supplement with the purchase of items such as bread and rolls.

Calculate the amount of food you will need. It is difficult to determine how much food you will need for a large gathering. If you have access to a caterer, ask for some estimates and go from there. If you overestimate too greatly, you and your family will have the pleasure of dining on the leftover walleye or barbecue for weeks afterwards. Set up the serving table for lines on both sides.

Safety is paramount. Make certain there is adequate refrigeration to keep all the food fresh and wholesome. You may want to forego some favored food which does not keep well in warm weather.

All food and beverages must be labeled accurately. Your guests will need a variety of food options. There will be vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements. Label everything to completely inform your guests what they are consuming. This also applies to beverages. Clearly label the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and be certain the light red wine cannot be confused with an attractive infused cocktail which could send a guest reeling across the aisle.

For a full discussion of how to "Do It Yourself", see an article written by Aimee Blachette, ablanchette@startribune.com, 612.673.1715, published in the Star Tribune on August 28, 2008, Section T, page T2. Also on page T2 is an article about Groom's cake which is apparently a Southern tradition, including a detailed recipe.
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Do I need a wedding cake?

Wedding cakes seem to be a generation issue. I am sure that if you ask your mom or grandmother if you need a cake, the answer would be “Of course you do”, but if you ask your best friend, she or he will respond “It’s no big deal; how about some cupcakes.”

Wedding cakes are complicated and expensive. In the Stillwater area, there are several bakeries which feature wedding cake preparation: Bread Art, www.breadart.biz and Buttercream, www.buttercream.info to name a few. You probably know a local bakery that also bakes them. Many venues and restaurants will provide a wedding cake or similar confection as a part of their wedding package.

If you or someone in your family is a baker, you could prepare your own. There are lots of recipes on the internet. Martha Stewart has published a book “Wedding Cakes” co-authored by Wendy Kromer.ISBN 978-0-307-39453-8, www.crownpublishing.com and www.clarksonpotter.com Stillwater Public Library catalog number 641.86539 which should educate you on all you need to know about wedding cakes. It is very well illustrated and contains numerous recipes and advice on the types of cakes and decorations available. Chapter headings are Choosing Your Cake which includes Finding Inspiration, A Cake’s Components, Presenting the Cake and Partnering with a Profession, an Album of Cakes which includes more than 150 pages of exquisite photographs of cakes with recipes and helpful commentary and Making A Wedding Cake which includes Planning Tips, Cake 101 and Helpful How Tos. There are also Baker’s Guidelines, including Cakes, Frosting and Fillings and an extensive list of resources and helpful Index. Also, take a look at www.theknot.com and click on wedding cakes.

If you have the time and knack, go to it and good luck.

Individually baked Wedding cakes prepared by professional bakers are very expensive and you may not have the budget or the inclination to spend so much on this part of the celebration. As an alternative, you could consider cakes from a source such as the Cub bakery or individual cupcakes that are featured at many bakeries and are far less costly than the traditional wedding cake. You could also have a very nice small wedding cake for the bride and groom and the family and wedding party and more ordinary cake for the guests.

Be aware, some marriage venues charge an extra fee for cake cutting and serving and may require you to have them supply the cake or charge an additional fee to bring in a cake prepared by another baker.
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What do you wear to perform the ceremony?

Most couples prefer I wear a traditional black ceremonial robe, and unless you request an alternative, that is what I will wear.

For theme weddings, I have worn Aloha (Hawaiian) shirts, hockey jerseys, baseball umpire gear and other accessories requested by the Bride and Groom. I am flexible, and will consult with you about your theme choice and make recommendations I think might be suitable, if requested. My objective is to make your wedding unique, memorable and fun.

Of course, a dark business suit with a white shirt and appropriate tie are always acceptable dress for the officiant.

I have not had the chance to perform a ceremony on the ice with skates on and I look forward to the opportunity since my family is very involved in ice hockey.
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Have you ever performed a wedding ceremony in Spanish?

Not exactly, but I do have a ceremony I have had translated into Spanish which I have used with an interpreter. I recite the English and the interpreter translates to Spanish. It works very well.

I have some Spanish education training and could perform the ceremony in Spanish; if requested, but most couples have a family member fluent in both languages who is able to assist with the translation

I can provide a Spanish language ceremony with the English translation by regular mail, if requested.
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Do you perform religious ceremonies?

I am a non-denominational minister as well as a retired District Court Judge. As I have indicated elsewhere, the contents of the ceremony are your decision. You may include whatever spiritual ideas and thoughts you wish. You can have me provide the spiritual element or a friend or even a parent. I have often shared the performance of the ceremony with a friend or relative who is a minister, etc., but not authorized to officiate in MN. I recall one memorable ceremony I conducted with the assistance of an Episcopal priest from Seattle at Rice Park in St. Paul. It was a moving and impressive experience. I have performed a ceremony at the historic St. Bonificus Catholic Church located in an historic park south of Hastings. The church had been deconsecrated, but contained all the elements of a traditional Catholic church and provided a wonderful venue for the spiritual ceremony I performed. The ceremonies I perform at the Nazareth Chapel at Northwestern College in Roseville, Mn. www.nwc.edu/web/guest/nazareth-chapel, are glorious in this deeply spiritual venue.
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What are the requirements to obtain a marriage license?

A marriage license issued in any Minnesota county is valid anywhere in Minnesota. For example, even though you obtained your marriage license in Anoka county, it authorizes you to be married in Ramsey, Washington or any other county.

Both parties must apply in person together and present valid identification such as a valid photo ID, photo driver’s license or a certified copy of a birth certificate. Both parties must be at least 18 years of age, but they do not have to live in the county where the license is issued. To obtain information and locations to apply for and obtain a marriage license, go to www.co(fill in name of county)mn.us. For example, Washington County is www.co.washington.mn.us

There is a five day waiting period for the issuance of a marriage license, so you should not wait until the last minute to obtain one. Once you have the marriage license, it is valid for 6 months from the date of issuance. If there is an emergency and you do not have time to apply, I can help you apply for a waiver of the 5 day waiting period which could allow you to obtain a license and be married on the same day. The fee for a marriage license is $115, and I recommend you pay by cash or a credit card because some counties will delay the issuance of the license until the check has cleared. If you have proof of participation in 12 hours of premarital counseling, the fee for the license may be reduced to $40. I do not provide marriage counseling, and you may wish to consult the yellow pages of the telephone directory or the internet for assistance in locating a marriage counselor.

In Washington County, they now issue the license with the specific dates during which it is valid. For example, when you apply, they will immediatley provide you with the License but it will not be valid for 5 days. In the past the Couny accepted the application and mailed the valid license five days later, or you could pick it up. Now, you can obtain the License at once, but it does authorize an Officiant to perform the ceremony until five days later unless the waiting period is waived. Take a look at my FAQ entitled "How do we obtain a waiver of the 5 day waiting period for the issuance of the Minnesota Marriag License?" for more information on how to request a waiver of the waiting period.

There are no blood or physical tests required. Only one party needs to be present to apply, except in Hennepin county where both parties must be present or the party not present must sign the application and have his or her signature notarized. The full name, address, date and place of birth, and social security numbers of both parties must be supplied, and the name after the marriage. A person convicted of a serious crime who intends to change his or her name by marriage must comply with additional requirements. Persons under the age of 18 must obtain permission from the juvenile court of the county of their residence for permission to marry. Divorced applicants must supply the county and state where the divorce occurred, the date of the marriage termination and the type of court which issued the Order. Widowed persons must supply the county and state and date of death of the deceased spouse.

You must be prepared to identify yourself and you should bring valid identification documentation with you such as a valid photo id, photo driver's license or a certified copy of a birth certificate. You may wish to call the license center for information on the requirements.

Here is a direct link to the Washington County Marriage Record Information website with info about what you must know about obtaining a marriage license:
http://www.co.washington.mn.us/info for residents/prts/vital records/marriage/
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How do I change my name by marriage?

Getting married is one of the ways to legally change your name in Minnesota, and either or both parties to the marriage may change his or her name. I once was involved in a marriage ceremony where Mr. Smith was wedding Ms. Jones, and each wanted to change their names so they mutually assumed the name of Palmer. You may change some or your entire name. You must request the name change when you apply for the marriage license. As I mentioned above, after the ceremony, I will return the completed Marriage Certificate for filing, and you will receive a certified copy of it by mail, or if you are in a hurry, you may deliver it to the license center and wait to have it recorded and immediately receive the certified copy. My experience has been that Minnesota counties are very efficient in returning the certified copy to you and it is usually done within a few days. You may use the certified copy to change your name on the driver's license, passport and social security account, etc. It is particularly important that you remember to change the name on your social security account because that will be necessary when you file future income tax returns. For information on social security you may call 1-800-772-1213, or search www.socialsecurity.gov. Everyone's situation is different so the following list is for your information and may not include everyone you may need to notify:

  • State and Federal tax authorities
  • Insurance companies and pension/retirement company or department at work
  • Change car titles
  • Bank and other institutions where you have loans, checking or savings accounts
  • Amend you Will (see your attorney about this and other legal items)
  • Credit card accounts and other charge accounts
  • Update records at school and university

  • Military benefits, if you have such rights
  • Doctor's office, dentist, pharmacy and hospital may need to amend their records so future insurance claims can be properly processed with your insurance carriers
  • Postmaster and mail carrier
  • Passport by submitting a passport amendment form
  • Inform social security or other entitlement programs

Minnesota law requires you must apply for a duplicate driver’s license within 30 days of a name change. A voter registration card is part of the application for a duplicate driver license, and both of these may be completed at a county service center.

David's Bridal provides a unique service which I have not tried, but which a bride described to me. For a fee of $29.95, the user inserts pertinent information into a data base and the service uses it to print a variety of forms which can be submitted to change the name. Go to www.davidsbridal.com and click on "Wedding Planning", and "After the Wedding" and "Tips and Advice" and go to "Now that I'm Married, how do I change my name?" and click on the "Name Change Service". I hope it works out for you.
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Do you perform marriage vow renewal ceremonies?

Over the years, I have performed many renewal ceremonies and I have several ceremonies I can mail to you.

The preparation and fees for a renewal ceremony are the same as a marriage ceremony. After the ceremony, I present the couple with a Certificate memorializing their vow renewal.

I find these types of ceremonies particularly meaningful because often the couple's children, grandchildren and at least some of the original wedding party members are present to enjoy the celebration. In the summer of 2007, I performed a renewal ceremony in Stillwater, which the entire original wedding party attended, and they all had a wonderful time renewing acquaintances and reminiscing. A renewal ceremony is a gift to family and friends and each other from the Bride and Groom.
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Do I need wedding insurance?

In recent years, wedding insurance has been a popular subject and several insurance companies offer such policies. A trend I have noticed is that weddings are becoming more elaborate and therefore, I assume, more expensive. This may be the reason for the insurance. In 25 years of performing wedding ceremonies, I have never had one cancelled as a result of unanticipated circumstances. Of course, if you are planning an outdoor wedding, you may want to have a back-up plan, or rent a tent, etc. Nowadays, you can rent nearly everything you might need. If you want additional information on wedding insurance, here are two newspaper articles you may want to read: Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 27, 2007 at page D8 entitled "If the big day is a disaster" and St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch, Feb. 9, 2007, entitled "With this policy" www.agentprotectmywedding.com
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Friends have told me I have to select the right wedding team? What does that mean?

Wedding planners often use the term wedding team to describe the people who help make your special day less stressful and more fun. Generally, the wedding team consists of the following:

Maid/Matron of Honor - the Bride's assistant before/during the wedding. Hosts the bridal shower and/or bachlorette party, is a witness with the best man.

Best Man - the Groom's assistant, helps with pre-wedding duties. Organizes the bachelor party, holds the rings and makes a toast at the reception.

Bridesmaids - help with pre-wedding tasks, help with the bridal shower and/or bachelorette party, responsible for paying for their dresses, and help get the reception party started by dancing.

Groomsmen - help with pre-wedding tasks such as picking up the tuxedos, help with the bachelor party, responsible for paying for their tuxes, and help get people on the dance floor.

Host/hostesses - welcome the guests at wedding and reception, in charge of the guestbook, keep track of gifts.

Ushers - seat the guests, and sometimes light the candles.

Candle lighters - usually two, and light the candles

Flower girl - Traditionally, carries a basket of flower petals, scattering them in the aisle ahead of the bridal party, particularly the Bride.

Ring bearer - walks down the aisle just before the flower girl, carries a pillow with the two rings (sometimes fake) tied to it loosely, which can be easily untied by the officiant.

Officiant-assists Bride and Groom to prepare the ceremony, performs the ceremony and is responsible for the execution and filing of the Marriage License.

Wedding planner - helps plan and organize the wedding, helps arrange for vendors and keeps things running smoothly.

Caterer - executes the Bride and Groom's menu of choice for the rehearsal dinner and reception.

Florist - responsible for floral arrangements and bouquets.

Cake baker - bakes the cake, delivers it and sets it up.

Dress fitter/maker - responsible for making sure the Bride's dress fits properly, does necessary fittings and alterations.

Makeup artist-responsible for the Bride's makeup, often does practice looks to determine what the Bride wants.

Hairstylist - responsible for the Bride's hair, usually does a practice hairdo before the wedding.

Videographer - films the wedding, reception and sometimes the rehearsal dinner.

Photographer - photographs the wedding, reception and sometimes the rehearsal dinner.

DJ/wedding musicians - vocalist or musicians for the wedding and band, or DJ for the wedding or the reception.

My personal experience leads me to recommend the Bride select a personal attendant to assist with all aspects of the preparation and completion of the wedding. In most circumstances, the Bride assumes the primary role in planning and executing the wedding. It is very helpful for her to have someone reliable to help with the innumerable tasks to be completed before and on the wedding day. I recommend an older friend or relative fill this role because it requires patience and follow through. Often the Bride's mother, older sister or a favorite aunt or close friend not in the wedding party can be of great assistance. The Bride should have confidence in this person and give her important tasks to complete.
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What are the elements of a wedding ceremony?

Every ceremony is different and not all will include all of these elements, or you may wish to rename them, but for purposes of planning and preparation on your wedding program, consider these:

PreludeMusic before the ceremony
ProcessionalEntry of the wedding party.
PresentationEntry of the Bride.
WelcomeWelcome to the guests.
ConvocationOpening remarks by Judge.
Reading(s)Can be read at any time during the ceremony by Judge or a guest.
MusicMusic may be played at any time during the ceremony.
InvocationPrayers may be included at any time during the ceremony.
Expression of IntentBride and Groom express intent to wed. This may also include Vows.
Marriage VowsThe Bride and Groom's promises to each other.
Exchange of RingsBride and Groom express their love and intentions by gift of tangible symbols of their marriage.
Pronouncement of MarriageJudge publicly proclaims the marriage.
The KissBride and Groom seal their vows and promises with a kiss.
BenedictionRequesting the blessings of God for the newly married couple.
IntroductionJudge introduces the newly married couple.
RecessionalThe Bride and Groom and then the wedding party exit.
AnnouncementsJudge makes any necessary announcements about the receiving line, reception, etc.
PostludeMusic as the guests leave.

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Do you have advice on how much my wedding will, or should, cost?

I do not have any personal information on overall costs. I do know that in recent years, the weddings at which I have officiated have become larger and more elaborate, and I assume, more expensive.

Take a look at these resources:

www.costofwedding.comTo find out how much on the average couples spend in various cities.
www.weddingchannel.comThe Budget Calculator allows you to track your costs, deposits and balances, based on your overall budge and number of guests and attendants. Compare the site's 'suggested amount' for each item with your 'estimate', then examine the 'actual' amount spent to see how much over or under budget you are. There are also helpful suggestions for various items.
www.Brides.comUse the Budget Advisor for a breakdown of expenses and the recommended percentage of the total budget, by category. Also, check out the 'savvyshopper tips and tricks' to cut costs.
www.TheKnot.comThis is the most comprehensive budget tool and has the most detailed list of expenses and description of which costs should be included.

An article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press entitled "Not So Platinum Weddings" states the Bridal Association of America (BridalAssociationofAmerica.com) estimates that in 2008 Minnesota couples spent an average of $32,640 on their wedding; up $1,068 from the previous year. This figure includes all weddings from 15 minute ceremonies at the Courthouse to $100,000 extravaganzas. St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 13, 2008, page 1E, Mollie Millett, 651.228.5505, molliemillett@pioneerpress.com.

For frugal wedding shoppers, the article provides some interesting savings ideas such as Styrofoam cakes, ipod music, and alternative photography including a discussion of The Traveling Photo Booth.

In June 2012, the Los Angeles times reported that the average couple spent between $25,500 and $27, 000 on their big day in 2011 which was less that the average $28,000 spent in 2017, but not as much less as you would think in view of the recession and bad economy.

Spending on gowns, venues, food and liquor were at nearly pre-recession levels but some items such as rehearsal dinners, live music and bands, and guest lists have been reduced.

For more information, go to www.TheWeddingReport.com
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Should I rent or purchase an aisle runner?

My advice is to save the money and the complications. If your ceremony is outside, the runner presents numerous problems. The wind blows it around, and it sits up on the grass making walking difficult, especially for the women wearing any type of heels. If your ceremony is inside, the runner still moves around and makes walking on it a problem. If you choose to use a runner, be certain to assign the task of rolling it out to reliable persons with the patience to do it fully and carefully. Although it is difficult to rehearse this, you should attempt at least a simulated roll out as a part of the rehearsal. If outside, you may use landscape spikes to keep it in place. Inside, you may use masking tape and duct tape, but some venues will not allow you to put tape on their floors or carpeting. Under no circumstances place the runner on stairs. This is very dangerous and does not work.
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Green Wedding Tips

I have never been asked about a "Green Wedding," but in case you would like some information on the subject, here it is. This material is derived from an article which was published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 14, 2008 at page 1 of Section E entitled "Saying 'I do' in shades of green".

Green Wedding Tips
Wedding Dresses: Instead of purchasing a new dress, buy a used one, or buy organic. Toronto based Adele Wechsler makes hand cut and sewn bridal gowns or recycled lace, vegetable dyes and organic hemp. See, www.adelewechsler.com/collections/ecocouture or check Macy's after the primary wedding season. Also, consider purchasing a second-hand dress, see www.bridalgarden.org.
Bridesmaid's Dresses: Pick a color theme and ask bridesmaids to wear a dress they already own in that color.
Invitations: Print invitations on recycled paper using soy or biodegradable ink. Or, use a 1-800 service for RSVPs or ask guests to e-mail them.
Venues: Eliminate driving by holding the ceremony and reception in the same location or nearby. Encourage guests to take the bus or walk between sites.
Honeymoon: Take a short train trip to somewhere nearby. If you do take a plane, buy carbon offsets to balance the emissions from your plane trip. See terrapass.com to calculate your carbon footprint.
Transportation: Instead of a limo, rent a hybrid.
Wedding Photos: Take digital photographs to eliminate the use of chemicals.
Gifts: Register at eco-friendly sites for items such as linens and towels. In lieu of gifts, ask guests to make a donation in your name to a charitable organization of your choosing, or have a tree planted in your name.
Food: Use a caterer who works with organic ingredients and emphasizes vegetarian fare.
Re-use Decorations: Go to www.freecycle.com or Craigslist to get free items such as centerpieces.
Rings: Choose a jeweler who buys conflict-free diamonds and recycled metals, such as greenkarat.com. Jewelry by Da'oud uses sound design. www.jewelrybydaoud.com.
Flowers: Choose locally grown in-season plants. Compost foliage after the wedding or send plants to a hospital or senior center.

Learn more about how to throw a green wedding: www.theknot.com; www.greatgreenwedding.com; www.greeneleganceweddings.com; www.portovert.com.
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I would like to add a unity symbol or ceremony to my wedding. Do you have any ideas?

Ceremonies within marriage ceremonies which symbolizes the bringing together of the bride and groom and their families are often referred to as unity symbols. There are four kinds: unity candles, sand ceremonies, flower and water ceremonies.

By far the most common unity symbol is the unity candle, which consists of a large candle called the unity candle and two smaller candles called the tapers. Usually, at the beginning of a marriage ceremony someone designated by the bride and groom light the tapers and they remain lit during the ceremony until the couple uses them to light the center unity candle and then extinguish the tapers. The symbolism is that before their marriage, the bride and groom stood apart and alone, and now they are joined and together.

Most often, the mothers of the bride and groom light the tapers or sometimes the ushers perform the task. Generally, the lighting of the unity candle occurs after the vows and before the pronouncement as husband and wife. Sometimes, the mothers and the bride and groom participate in the ceremony together and the mothers light the tapers which are then used by the bride and groom to light the unity candle.

The unity candle ceremony is a simple, effective and powerful symbolic representation of the meaning of a marriage. It is not too time consuming and relatively inexpensive, but there may be problems, depending on the venue. The most significant and frequent difficulty is with outdoor weddings when the breeze blows strongly enough to extinguish the candles. A solution is to use large glass shade to shelter the tapers until they are used. It may be expensive to purchase these items or you may wish to borrow them. Also, be certain the persons lighting the tapers know how to use the lighting instrument. Finally, many indoor venues including excursion boats do not allow the use of candles at their location. You should check on whether or not use of a unity candle is prohibited.

The other most commonly used unity symbol is the commingling of sand or other colored material. For this ceremony, three vessels are used: one with one color of sand, another with a second color and an empty one for receipt of the commingled sand. This ceremony also occurs following the vows and before the pronouncement, and it consists of the bride and groom each pouring the contents of their vessel into the empty one producing a multicolored and layered symbol of their new relationship. An additional benefit of a sand ceremony is that if there are other members of the newly formed family such as children, they can participate by pouring the contents of their vessel of sand into the common one symbolizing their place in the new relationship. The family also has a permanent and attractive symbol of their relationship with each other.

The flower and water ceremonies are variations of the sand ceremony using different colored flowers and liquids to commingle instead of sand. I have participated in many unity candle ceremonies, a few sand ceremonies but no flower or water ceremonies, but I am always looking for fresh ideas and experiences and willing to try nearly anything to make your ceremony meaningful and unique.

I have several scripts about unity candles and sand ceremonies which I use, but I have not included those on my website because space is limited. I will be happy to discuss these symbolic presentations with you, if you wish. You may obtain the materials used in these ceremonies at various places on the Internet. For example, www.theknot.com has a large selection of unity candles and include many suggested scripts relating to the ceremony and its symbolism. If you search "wedding sand ceremonies: you will find materials and assistance also.
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We are planning a late afternoon, early evening ceremony in a formal garden setting. We would like the ambiance to be somewhat formal and elegant. Do you have any information on dress recommendations?

The whole issue of dress for ceremonies is very confusing. There are no universal rules, except that for women, the cardinal rule is stay away from white because you do not want to look like the bride or anyone in the wedding party. For daytime ceremonies, dress as you would for any other social event held at that hour during the season. Little black dresses are not for a daytime wedding. Go for light and bright in sheaths and sundresses or blouses with dress slacks. For evening ceremonies, a simple dress is recommended; the little black dress is okay for nighttime. Stay away from flashy dresses and sequins, and if it is a service at a religious location, don't show too much skin. Here are few do's and don'ts:

  • Don't wear white because you might compete with the bride
  • Don't wear black sequins during the daytime
  • Don't be concerned about wearing the same colors as the bridesmaids or mothers of the bride and groom
  • Do wear something feminine and appropriate out of respect for the hosts. Club wear or overtly sexy outfits do not belong at a wedding.
  • Do use good judgment if the invitation does not specify the formality of the event. A pastel suit or floral dress for daytime and a little black dress for evening after 6 p.m. are okay.

For the men, dress shirt and pants with a sports jacket for informal daytime, and a suit for informal evening. A suit for semi-formal daytime and a dark suit for semi-formal evening. A dark suit and tie for formal daytime and tuxedo if the invitation states "black tie" for formal evening, but a dark suit if women wear short dresses. There is not much call for ultra-formal evening or white tie, but just in case, white tie, cummerbund, vest and shirt. I have never officiated at an evening formal or ultra-formal ceremony, but it might be fun someday. Here are a few do's and don'ts:

  • Do not get cute with the tux. A black tux with white shirt and black bow tie is the way to go. If the invitation says something like "Creative Black Tie", "Texas Formal", or some other vague description, going with a tux and a black shirt without a tie may be acceptable
  • Do wear a dark suit with a tie if the ceremony is after 6 p.m. and the invitation does not specify "Black Tie"
  • Don't wear a tuxedo during the day regardless of the formality of the ceremony
  • Do use good judgment if the invitation does not specify the formality of the event. A dark suit and conservative tie will take you nearly anywhere.

If you want to encourage your guests to dress for the occasion, you must specify in a prominent way on the invitation your intentions. Most guests will not understand the dress requirements so some information would be helpful to them.

Take a look at www.theknow.com for additional suggestions, and an article which appeared at page 4E of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, June 22, 2008, entitled "Fete accompli", written by Debra Braggs of the Newhouse News Service.

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I am planning an outdoor wedding. Do you have any suggestions about how to eliminate flying insects?

In recent years, outdoor and garden ceremonies have become very popular with the result that insect pests have become a factor. The bugs are attracted by the flowers and plants, which are the reasons the venue is desirable. My observations have been that the later in the day, the more likely you will encounter insect pests, and the late afternoon with heat and humidity and early evening as the sun begins to set, are the times when there is the greatest likelihood of a problem. An open location where there is some breeze will help to keep the pests away.

I recommend you attempt to eliminate as much scent as possible which includes both the men and the women in the ceremony. I realize it is your wedding, and you want to smell nice, but too much of a good thing can and does attract flying insects. I personally try to use unscented products, and there have been times when I have performed a ceremony where the bride and groom and their attendants are pestered by the bugs, and they hardly affect me. Maybe your hairdresser has an idea or could use a product designed to eliminate the problem. It is more of a problem for women with off the shoulder gowns and dresses, and stylish hair, and they could consider foregoing the additional perfume and other scented products. The men could eliminate the body cologne and scented hair products as well.

If your reception is outdoors or in a tent, check with the owners of the venue to find out their experience and what they do or are prepared to do about the problem. There are such things as citronella candles, etc. which might help as a part of the table centerpieces. Another suggestion is to either distribute or have available for your guests insect repellant in various forms such as sprays or wipes. You can also consider the type of lighting you have after dark because, as you know, flying insects are attracted by the lights and open flames. It is an annoying problem, but with some planning, it can be managed to make the evening enjoyable and fun despite the bugs.
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Here is another idea for obtaining information about planning your ceremony.

The Stillwater Public Library, 224 North Third St, Stillwater, MN 55082-4806, 651.275.4338; www.stillwaterlibrary.org, has a kit of information entitled Life Event Kit #2, Getting Married which contains books, cds, a dvd and a magazine, all related to planning your marriage. I do not know if other libraries have similar resources, but it is worth an inquiry. Specifically, the Stillwater kit includes the following books: Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide: The Rules- And How to Bend Them by Carolyn Gerin, Buff Brides: The Complete Guide to Getting in Shape and Looking Great for Your Wedding Day by Sue Fleming, Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding by Joyce Scardina Becker, Diane Warner’s Complete Book of Wedding Vows , e-Plan Your Wedding by Crystal Melendez, The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner by Carley Roney, The New Book of Wedding Flowers: Simple and Stylish Arrangements for the Creative Bride by Joanne O’Sullivan, The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Being a Groom by Jennifer Lata Rung, The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Best Wedding and Honeymoon Destinations by Elizabeth Lluch, Wedding Chic: The Savvy Bride’s Guide to Getting More While Spending Less by Nina Willdorf and Well Groomed: A Wedding Planner for What’s-His-Name (and his Bride) by Peter Scott. It also includes the following cds: The Knot Collection of Ceremony and Wedding Music and Modern Bride Presents the Wedding Album, a dvd of the original movie version of Father of the Bride starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor and an issue of Minnesota Bride, www.mnbride.com which is packed with wedding related advertising and feature stories.

In addition to the resources at the Stillwater Public Library, it has one of the finest marriage venues in Minnesota on its vast outdoor patio/deck and pergola overlooking the City of Stillwater and the St.Croix River. If you think you may be interested in the library, visit any day and take a look around, or you can arrange to talk with the library marriage coordinator.
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Tattoos

Tattoos are ubiquitous among people currently in marrying age with almost 40 percent of Millenials and a third of Gen Xers claiming at least one. Equally popular are skin-baring gowns. Lots of brides flaunt their ink, but some for reasons of aesthetics, religion or family harmony, find the look at odds with their wedding day image.

I have been asked for advice on how to handle the tattoo issue and with some research, I have some ideas. There may be others, but here are my five suggestions: dress design, cosmetics, airbrushing, removal and clever photography.

Dress design is a simple solution, but it might impose limitations on the gown such as full sleeves or coverage to the neck which many modern brides find objectionable.

The principal problem with cosmetics is how to avoid the transfer to the thousand dollar wedding dress.

A number of cosmetics provide temporary coverage from do-it-yourself industrial-strength concealer to professionally applied airbrush formulations.

No product or technique is perfect, and their effectiveness depends on the size, location and color of the tattoo. All require planning and can be costly. Prices range from $75 for Dermablend's, www.dermablend.com , three-step combination of tattoo primer, body makeup and setting powder to hundreds and even thousands for professional coverage.

For those with more time, a larger budget and a really unwelcome tattoo, permanent laser removal is an option. It can be expensive: $200 for a small, simple design. Some colors, like black, respond better than others, like light blue or yellow and because only a small area can be zapped at a time, the procedure can take months.

A good photographer can keep the offending tattoos out of the wedding album. Planning makes the best results, but there are limitations. Photoshoping is not always the magic bullet. For example, when a complicated tattoo abuts clothing, results can look flat.

It is better and less expensive to hide the tattoo during the photo shoot. The bride can be posed in a way to avoid the tattoo. If a bridesmaid has body art the bride and groom do not like, other members of the wedding party can positioned to hide it. Most photographers attempt to work around it unobtrusively. Interestingly, tattoos are contagious. If a bride or a bridesmaid has one, there is a strong possibility that others may also be inked.

In summary, there are no quick, easy and inexpensive solutions to the tattoo problem, but it is clear that if you want to do something about it, you better begin early and expect to spend money and time on it.
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How do we obtain a waiver of the 5 day waiting period for the issuance of a Minnesota Marriage License?

The State of Minnesota has a 5 day waiting period for the issuance of a Marriage License. This is a state law and applies to all Minnesota Counties. What it means is that when you complete the Application for a Marriage License and your Application is approved, the License will not be issued until 5 days later. At that time, you may return to the License Center and pick up the License or it will be mailed to you at the address you have requested. Once you have the License, you can use it to be legally married in Minnesota.

There are many instances where a couple needs to obtain a license to be married as soon as possible and wish to obtain a waiver of the 5 day waiting period. In my years of experience, some of the most common reasons relate to sudden military deployments, a short period where a couple returns to Minnesota from elsewhere and wish to be married in their home State of Minnesota, or couples traveling to Minnesota simply to be married. You can imagine, there are innumerable circumstances which present a reason for requesting a waiver.

The process described here applies to Washington County, Minnesota, but most counties have a similar procedure.

The most important factor is to begin the process of obtaining the waiver as soon as possible. In Washington County, it is best to visit the License Center located in the Government Center wing of the Washington County Government Center located at 14949-62nd St. North, Stillwater, Mn. 55082 Telephone 651.430.6175; Hours are Mon. thru Fri. 8 am to 5 pm. When you arrive at the License Center you will have to complete an Application for a Minnesota Marriage License and an Application for Waiver of the 5 day waiting period which will be submitted to a Judge of District Court for approval.

The Washington County District Court is located in the Washington County Court House which is a part of the Government Center complex. The Court has a Signing Judge who reviews documents, etc. for signature each weekday in the morning before Court begins, after lunch and in mid afternoon. If you have your Waiver Application ready, it will be submitted to the Judge for review at the next designated signing period. In other words, it you get there early and complete the paperwork, it could be delivered to the Signing Judge at the early morning signing time. The Signing Judge will review your Application, and if he/she approves it, return it to the Service Center which is then authorized to immediately issue the Marriage License. Once you have the License, it is valid for 6 months after issuance. In this manner, you can obtain a valid Minnesota Marriage License and be married within hours of applying for the License.

It is best to arrange in advance to have a Marriage Officiant available to perform your ceremony once you have the Marriage License.

I live within 6 blocks of the Washington County Government Center and since I am retired, I am usually available at nearly any time to go to the Court House and perform a ceremony or do it at my home. In addition to the valid Minnesota Marriage License you need two persons at least 16 years of age to serve as witnesses to the Marriage and sign the License. Because I am not an Active District Court Judge, I am not authorized to review and approve Waiver Applications.

The other Washington County License centers have a similar procedure, but it is a little more complicated by the fact they are not located in Stillwater where the Court is and make more use of fax transmissions. In addition, if for some reason the Signing Judge does not approve the Application for a Waiver, you may be able to more quickly amend the Application and have it resubmitted again for approval, if you are at the Government Center.
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Do you perform same gender marriage ceremonies?

Yes, I do. I believe in marriage equality and freedom and will work with same gender couples just as I do with heterosexual couples.
You should consider how you wish to have the Officiant refer to you. There is no universally accepted term for partners in same gender marriages. I have used husband, wife, spouse, partner, life partner, legally married partner and several other terms in the ceremonies I have performed. It is important to the Officiant that he/she know the terms you wish to use in order to properly prepare and perform the ceremony without embarrassment or misunderstanding.
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Do you think we should include a Memorial or Remembrance in our Ceremony?

In the past, it was very rare to include a Memorial or Remembrance in a marriage ceremony. The reason for this is that a wedding is considered a joyous occasion with hope for the future, and should not be burdened by the past and what may be sad memories. In recent years, there has developed a more broad sense of what a marriage can be: it can be a family celebration including a references to deceased famly members and those who may not be able to be present for some reason. I have included Memorials/Remembrances in many ceremonies and I have some suggestions. First, place these elements at the beginning of the ceremony and make them short. It is important to inform the Officinat of your wishes and provide him/her with some interesting information to help personalize the moment. You might also include some information on the Program for the ceremony if you are preparing one. Second, consider carefully the effect on the family and guests of references to other persons. For example, if there is a deceased former spouse of a parent and there has been a remarraiage, be careful of the feelings of the step parent, or others who might be effected. Finally, You may wish to include a prayer, but make it short.
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