Vancouver Officiant Blog


Marriage Commissioner or Justice of the Peace

What is the difference between a Vancouver Marriage Commissioner, Vancouver Justice of the Peace and an Officiant?

I get asked that a lot.

Vancouver Marriage Commissioners and Vancouver JPs are the same thing pretty much. You really need to hire a Vancouver Marriage Commissioner and they often get called JPs.

An officiant is someone who is religiously ordained and can legally marry people but does non-religious ceremonies.

I hope that helps. 




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Hiring the ideal marriage commissioner and what to ask

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You’re engaged!!! You’re over the moon excited and the plans are starting to fall into place but when it comes to the core of the celebration, the ceremony, who will marry you?

Let’s make sure you get the ceremony you want with these questions. I recommend you encourage the officiant to share their story so you can get a feel for who they are, their passion and their personality to make sure it’s a good fit.

1. Are you available on our wedding date?

2. How many weddings have you performed?

3. How many weddings do you perform in one day? Are we your only couple that day?

4. How long is the average ceremony?

5. Are you flexible with different religions/beliefs?

6. How long are you on site for our wedding?

7. Do you have a sample ceremony that we can review?

8. Can I have a friend marry us? If so, what is your involvement?

9. What must we say legally in the ceremony?

10. Do you do custom ceremonies?

11. What is included in your fee?

12. What is the process from signing the contract to the wedding date? How many meetings will we have to create the custom ceremony? Payment schedule? How many revisions do we get when creating the ceremony?

13. Where do you find your inspiration when customizing a ceremony for a couple?

14. How much say do we have in the creation of the ceremony?

15. Will you assist us when writing our personal vows?

16. What is your back up if you were unable to be there for our day?

17. In the event of a cancellation or date change, what is the next step?

18. What do you do when you arrive at the venue before the ceremony?

19. Will you make an announcement for unplugged ceremonies and/or cocktail hour to follow before the ceremony begins?

20. Are you present for the wedding rehearsal? What is involved with that?

21. What do you wear to the ceremony?

22. Do you require pre-marital counseling before you marry us?


A few questions to dive deeper and get to know your officiant better:

1. Are you married? Tell us about your ceremony.

2. Why did you become a marriage commissioner?

3. What was the most moving ceremony you performed?

4. What languages do you speak? (just in case)

5. What is the most challenging part of your job?

6. When meeting with a couple what is it that you look for?

7. What is your favourite part of the wedding?

8. Tell us the most unique wedding you were apart of and how you customized their ceremony for them.

9. What do you wish more couple knew about marriage commissioners?

10. What is the best review from a couple you’ve received to date?

I have had the pleasure of working with Darian and his passion for marriage is contagious. If you believe the ceremony is the core of your wedding day, like myself, then look no further. Darian will not only get to know you but he will share his story with you so not only do you get someone that gets you but you feel as if a friend is marrying you on your special day.

Congratulations and best wishes!

Xo Stephanie

Principal Planner | Sweetheart Events


Stephanie Reitsma - Sweetheart Events


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9 Places to Look for the Perfect Ceremony Passages

Your Own Story

Before delving into the wide world of possible readings, look to your own backgrounds and relationship first. Remember the time your fiance gave you a Pablo Neruda book for your birthday? Or did you meet in English class and read Pride and Prejudice together? Or maybe a Stevie Wonder song was playing in the restaurant when he proposed? Do some reminiscing -- the perfect passage might be right in front of you.


Scripture and Cultural Texts

Feel free to use ethnic or cultural readings that don't necessarily reflect your backgrounds -- what's important is that the words resonate with you. Some places to start: theDhammapada (Buddhist), the Song of Songs (Jewish), the Bible (Christian) and the I Ching(Chinese). Just make sure to explain the reading's source in the introduction or in your ceremony programs. And keep in mind that if you're having a religious ceremony, there may be certain requirements about or restrictions on what can be read.


Classic Poetry

Poems were practically made for wedding ceremonies, from Shakespeare's love sonnets and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's romantic verses to the works of more modern scribes like E.E. CummingsMaya AngelouWalt WhitmanNikki Giovanni and William Butler Yeats. If you can't decide between several short poems, consider having multiple readers recite them one after the other. Each person can introduce the next.


Literature

Browse books and short stories to find passages that remind you of love and your marriage. Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet is popular for weddings, as are classics by Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte. But think beyond the obvious and consider modern authors you love. Maybe one of Jonathan Safran Foer's novels spoke to you, a passage written by Nicole Krauss really stuck with you, or you loved one of David Sedaris's funny yet touching essays.


Children's Books

Your favorite storybooks from childhood can actually be quite profound, given their audience. Excerpts from books by Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl and other classic authors might surprise you with how romantic they can be. One idea we love: Have your seven-year-old cousin read the passage and there won't be a dry eye in the room.


Love Letters

Love letters penned by historical figures (like James Joyce's to his wife, Nora, or Simone de Beauvoir's to Jean-Paul Sartre, for example) can be especially moving. If you'll have two or more readings, ask one person to read from a love letter, and another reader to handle the response letter. And don't forget about your own ”love letters.” Search your email inbox for messages from when you first met or were falling in love. You may find sweet tidbits of old correspondence that chronicle your falling in love from a totally personal and unique angle.


Your Favorite Movies

If historical literature or old-world poetry just isn't your style, try drawing from romantic movie quotes: Billy Crystal's speech at the end of When Harry Met Sally, Tom Hanks's radio call from Sleepless in Seattle, Leonardo DiCaprio's conversations with Kate Winslet in Titanicand the first-person narration from The Notebook come to mind. Think beyond your typical romantic movies too. If you have a special, nontraditional film you both love -- maybe you always watch it together when one of you is sick -- check it for quotes too.


Song Lyrics

If you're more likely to have a list of favorite tunes than favorite sonnets, check your iPod for songs with romantic, readable lyrics. Some of our favorites? The Beatles' "In My Life," The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," Van Morrison's "Someone Like You" and Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love."


Your Family

If you're looking for a way to honor a deceased or absent relative, reading from that person's favorite poems, books or passage of scripture is appropriate. Another touching option? Choosing excerpts from a meaningful book or letter written during their life. Maybe your grandmother kept a diary about her marriage and family life, or your favorite aunt read The Steadfast Tin Soldier to you when you were a kid.

Source: The Knot. com
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Ambush Weddings: Newest Wedding Trend for 2014?


You've heard stories of celebrities flying their friends to exotic island vacations that are really for their secret destination wedding. While avoiding paparazzi is a great reason to have an "ambush wedding," there are equally great reasons for non-celebrities to surprise their friends.
Ambush weddings or "Trojan weddings" as they are sometimes called, also offer the following benefits:
a. Condensed timeline
A lot of what takes up wedding planning time is finding at least 10 types of wedding vendors, and coordinating with them and your bridal party. By keeping the affair simple, you cut down on the number of search and coordination.
b. Element of surprise and fun
Surprises are always good. What better way to make your wedding memorable and ensure everyone is in good spirits?
c. Excuse to do away with some expected wedding traditions
Because it is not a "traditional" wedding, you have much more leeway on what wedding traditions you want to keep.
d. No-stress guest list
Don't want to agonize over who to invite, sending invitations, and RSVPs? Invite as many people who are in town, and have someone manage the RSVP. Better yet, have a buffet to have more flexibility.
Of course, a surprise wedding is not for everyone. If you have a very clear vision of your wedding and actually do enjoy the planning process, then this option is not for you. If you also like travel and do not want to deal with orchestrating a surprise event, then eloping still remains a popular option for an intimate and easy affair.

Oh and by the way, if you're planning on ambushing, let your Officiant know ahead of time!

Source: The Knot. com
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Wedding Ceremony: 10 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Civil Officiant


  1. Is the officiant available on your wedding date?
  2. Can the officiant travel to your chosen wedding site?
  3. If you don't have a site, can the officiant suggest one or provide a courthouse or meeting room?
  4. Does the officiant charge a standard fee? Is the fee a donation?
  5. How long has the officiant been performing weddings? Why does he/she do them?
  6. Does the officiant have sample wording/ceremonies/readings to show you?
  7. Will the officiant let you specify ceremony details such as music, readings, and vows? Can you include religious touches if desired?
  8. Is the officiant available for a ceremony rehearsal? 
  9. Does the officiant make you comfortable? Does he or she seem genuinely interested in you as a couple? Be sure you like and respect your officiant -- and that the feeling is mutual.
  10. Would the officiant (and his/her spouse) like to come to the reception and rehearsal dinner?

    Source: The Knot. com
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12 Tips to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows


Penning your own wedding vows is no easy task -- it’s like writing poetry, public speaking and having the deepest conversation of your life all at once. Putting your promises on paper is an emotional, eye-opening and often extremely memorable experience. Up for the challenge? Here's the homework you need to do (and the questions you should ask) to make your vows perfect.

  1. Get Clearance
    Make sure your ceremony Officiant will actually allow personalized vows. Certain celebrants and houses of worship may require you to recite a specific set of traditional vows. And remember: Even some of the most accommodating Officiants will want to review your words in advance.

  2. Start Early
    We can't say this enough: Don't leave writing your vows until the day before the wedding! You'll be too nervous, excited and rattled to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month, or work on your vows in that pocket of time after you've set up all your major vendors and before you have to start thinking about the details. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, frame of mind. Some loose deadlines to aim for: Try to get a first draft together about three weeks before the wedding and have your final version completed at least two days out.

  3. Look to Tradition
    To get inspired, start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows -- from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well -- to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on.

  4. Set the Tone
    Before putting pen to paper, decide what overall tone you want to achieve. Humorous but touching? Poetic and romantic? It's your call -- the most important thing is that your vows ring true and sound like they're from your heart. One word of advice: While your vows can be lighthearted (or even hilarious), they should, in some way, acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you're about to make. One way to do that is to weave little jokes into traditional vows (for example: "I promise to love you, cherish you and always watch Monday Night Football with you").

  5. Figure Out the Logistics
    Make sure you and your fiancé are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you're writing them separately, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? If you're writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you've written to your Officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.

  6. Make a Vow Date
    When it's time to come up with the actual content of your vows, go out to dinner or set aside an evening at home to brainstorm. Talk about your relationship and what marriage means to each of you. Discuss what you expect from each other and the relationship. What are you most looking forward to about married life? Why did you decide to get married? What hard times have you gone through together? What have you supported each other through? What challenges do you envision in your future? What do you want to accomplish together? What makes your relationship tick? Answering these questions will help you make and keep your promises, and talking about your bond may expose your inner Wordsworth and help you come up with phrases and stories you can incorporate into your vows.

  7. Schedule Some Alone Time
    After chatting with your future spouse, take some self-reflection time to think about how you feel about your partner. What did you think when you first saw them? When did you realize you were in love? What do you most respect about your partner? How has your life gotten better since meeting your mate? What about them inspires you? What do you miss most about them when you're apart? What qualities do you most admire in each other? What do you have now that you didn't have before you met? You may be surprised how these answers may lead you to the perfect words.

  8. Steal Ideas
    Borrow freely from poetry, books, religious and spiritual texts -- even from romantic movies. Jot down words and phrases that capture your feelings. Widely recognized works ring true for a reason.

  9. Create an Outline
    An outline can get you started by helping to establish a structure. For example, plan to first talk about how great your fiancé is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your promises to each other.

  10. Remember Your Audience
    Don't make your vows so personal that they're cryptic -- or embarrassing! You've invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.

  11. Time It Right
    Don't make them too long -- aim for about one minute or so (it's longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn't mean they should go on for hours. Get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you with your vows; pick the most important points and make them well. Save some thoughts for the reception toasts -- and for the wedding night.

  12. Practice Out Loud (Seriously!)
    These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences -- you don't want to get out of breath or stumble.

    Source: The Knot. com
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Marriage Isn’t For You

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.


Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. :) I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

Marriage is about family. 

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

This post originally appeared on ForwardWalking.com, a website dedicated to helping people move forward in life.
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