I have recently discovered that one cannot have a civil wedding at the John Marshall Courts building in Richmond, VA.
My conversation with the woman staffing the phone on the marriage extension went something like this:
Me: Hi, um, I was trying to get more information about bringing a camera in if I wanted to get married by a Justice of the Peace at the Circuit Court.
Staff Member: Well, you can’t get married here. There is no one who will marry you.
So now, here we are. We have a date (May 24th!) and a photographer (for about two hours). We have no venue or officiant. I’m glad I checked up on this now instead of later.
This puts a slight dent in our plans because we were all ready to be married by a Justice of the Peace with very little pre-planning of the ceremony. It’s not just that we don’t have an officiant or venue; it’s that we now have to come up with a ceremony. I never really dreamed of my wedding, but, of course, I have had two niggling fears of my wedding day for a very long time: (1) rain on an outdoor ceremony [Cue Alanis!] and (2) having to say private, emotional things in front of others.
To us, this means no unity candle, no readings, no music, no processional/recessional, no greeting line, no flower girl (Ha, like I would willingly place myself in the presence of a young child, hahahahahaa!). Just the important things that must be said to make the marriage official. It’s not that I want to get it over with; I just don’t want to feel forced to say things unnaturally or work with an officiant who has strong feelings about how the ceremony needs to go.
“I want it to be official,” says Harrison, “But I don’t want it to be dumb. I don’t want any actions, just words.” [Note: Weddings that have these things aren’t dumb, but it would be dumb to have them out of a sense of obligation only.]
I guess I will continue to consult the Internet, clearly the best source of information, as well as respectable married people about the necessary parts of a wedding ceremony and how to find an officiant.
Fortunately, I just found this post about the five basic components required for a marriage ceremony in the US:
- The statement : naming the people who have to be there
- The intention : Do you ___ intend to marry ___? (I do.)
- The vow : “I [name] take you [name] to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife.”
- The signing
- The declaration : “I now pronounce you…”
Those all sound like good, matter-of-fact things to include. I even like the vows–short and sweet and with no added fluff that would sound awkward coming out of our mouths.
So yes, we’re on the lookout for an officiant and a cool, cheap venue in Richmond, VA. To be continued….