1) Why you? What makes you different from any other JP or officiant? *I am honored to be a JP and have the privilege of uniting couples in marriage. I have fresh ideas, good energy, and a deep commitment to making sure your ceremony suits you perfectly and that you feel comfortable and supported along the way.
*My background in public speaking and creative writing lend themselves very well to a never-dull and always well-delivered ceremony.
*I will compose your unique story to incorporate into your wedding -- a key element in truly personalizing your ceremony (*custom package option). Your wedding ceremony should be as unique as you are!
*I am committed to being easily accessible to my clients. If you contact me via email, text, or phone you will usually hear back from me within 1-2 days.
*I do not overbook myself, I arrive to ceremonies at least 30 minutes early, and complete/mail marriage licenses within 1-2 days of your completed ceremony.
*I am a member of the MA Justice of the Peace Association and know multiple JPs that may be able to stand in as a “back up” in the unlikely event of an emergency that would prevent me from attending your ceremony.
2) We just want to "make it legal" and aren't looking for a formal ceremony. Can you accommodate us? Absolutely! Justices are often called to perform civil ceremonies for couples who are not planning a formal wedding but want something more personal than going to City Hall. These ceremonies are often performed on relatively short notice, but not always. Couples looking for a quick, non-custom civil service can be married in a location of their choice with only me or with a handful of friends/family present. Couples may come to my country home in Grafton if that is convenient -- we have an amazing sunset view from our front porch! Rates for this service are $90 in Grafton, $100+ outside of Grafton (depending on location).
3) When should I meet with a JP and book my ceremony? Do you perform weddings on major holidays? It is not uncommon for popular wedding dates to book over a year in advance, particularly holiday weekends or special calendar dates. It is never too early to book your date, and never too late to see if there is an opening (especially if you plan to elope).
4) Where can I have my wedding or elopement ceremony? How far do you travel? *The options are endless! In addition to formal wedding venues, parks, private homes, rustic woodsy locations, the beach, grassy commons, a rolling green hillside, a gazebo, lake, and gardens are beautiful options. Get married in a boat in the middle of a lake or on a gondola in Boston...the choice is yours. *In terms of travel distance, I travel throughout most of central MA, metro west, metro Boston, and parts of northeast and southeast MA. Generally, I prefer to stay within 1 hour of Grafton. At this time, I do not travel to the North Shore, South Shore, Western Mass, or the Cape. I occasionally service Rhode Island, depending on location.
5) Do you perform same-gender weddings? Yes, and with great pride and joy. I am honored to serve the Commonwealth in a way that unites anyone who wishes to be married.
6) Can we involve family members or friends? Certainly, spread the love! Special people in your lives are welcome to recite readings during the ceremony. We can involve your family and friends in other ways too, such as in a remembrance ceremony in honor of a departed loved one or their participation in a symbolic gesture or ritual.
7) There are special children in our lives, can they be involved in the ceremony? A million times Yes! The involvement of children can only make a ceremony more special. I would be happy to describe to you numerous ways to involve children of varied ages. As a mother of two young children, seeing kids involved in a wedding is awesome!
8) Can we write our own vows, or even our whole ceremony? Yes! I encourage couples to exchange words during their ceremony, but am sensitive to the fact that emotional public speaking is not for everyone! Want to write your own vows, but need some guidance? I'm there for you...don't panic :) If a couple would prefer to write their entire ceremony, I will recite their words exactly as they are provided.
9) Can we read our wedding ceremony beforehand? Absolutely! Couples that would feel more comfortable seeing the ceremony ahead of time are welcome to do so. I graciously accept any feedback or suggestions to make your ceremony exactly what you want (and not what you don't want!). For those who want a general idea of the flow (but don't want to read the exact words that will be said), I can provide a cue sheet/outline.
10) Whoa...your prices aren't as low as some other Officiants. Why are you more expensive? As required by our statutes, I offer a standard (but beautiful, so it's anything but "standard"!) wedding ceremony that is $100 within my hometown of Grafton/$150 outside of Grafton. As with any wedding vendor (or any professional), additional costs reflect my level of experience, expertise, professionalism, and the outstanding personal quality of the ceremonies I write. The process of putting together a custom ceremony requires over 10 hours in most cases, not including traveling to or officiating the wedding itself. In comparison to most other wedding vendors, my prices are often the least expensive a couple will encounter in budgeting for their big day. My prices continue to be significantly lower than wedding Celebrants, who offer a comparable personalized service.
11) Do you tip a Justice of the Peace? Aren't JPs salaried State employees? Couples sometimes ponder this question and, naturally, it can be awkward to ask (and answer!). Ah, the internet is great for these kinds of moments, right? JPs are appointed by the Governor's Council but are not paid or technically employed by the Commonwealth. Income comes solely from the regulated fees we charge for weddings. Like with any wedding vendor, if you feel your JP has served you well, then you should feel comfortable tipping. Tips are never required or expected, but are always welcome and greatly appreciated. Tips in the form of donations to a favorite charity are always appreciated as well. I believe greatly in the power of charitable giving.
12) Okay, let's talk about what's really important here....what will you wear to our ceremony? :) I have dresses and suits to match weddings ranging from casual to black tie. What can I say...I'm a bit of a clotheshorse! I will wear a dress (usually black or a solid color), suit, or formal robe. I will dress to match any particular theme your wedding may have. Note that rental or purchasing of outfits to specifically suit your ceremony will be covered by the client. And no, I will not wear a bear costume...I have to draw the line somewhere, folks.
13)Do we have to have a rehearsal? Do only what makes you feel comfortable and prepared for your wedding. I recommend a rehearsal if you have a large wedding party, if there are multiple people involved in your ceremony (such as family members reciting verses/readings, or children involved in a ritual), and/or if you have not been to many weddings before. Some wedding venues strongly recommend your Officiant attend a rehearsal regardless of your specific situation. I am happy to attend your rehearsal, pending my availability. Note that the sooner you book with me the more likely it is that I am available for your rehearsal, especially for weekend weddings with a Friday or Saturday rehearsal time.
14) Should we invite you to our reception? While I am flattered, I politely decline in advance. I prefer that couples use money that would have been spent on my guest seat at their reception and instead make a charitable donation or go out to a special dinner. But I would love a picture with the couple after the ceremony!
15) How do I apply for a marriage license? According to Massachusetts law, you must jointly file intentions to marry with the City/Town Clerk in any community in the state. You do not have to file in your city/town of residence. Note that cities/towns have different fees for this service. There is a mandatory 3-day waiting period, though that can be waived with a court waiver. A marriage license, once obtained, is valid for 60 days from the date intentions are filed and may be used in any city or town in the Commonwealth. Keep in mind, NO officiant in Massachusetts can solemnize your wedding without a proper marriage license. It is your responsibility to apply for and obtain your marriage license in a timely manner. See Links for more information.
16) Do we need to get a blood test? No, a blood test is no longer required in Massachusetts.
17) We want to elope, but do we need witnesses? No, Massachusetts law does not require witnesses at a wedding ceremony. Your officiant is the only witness you need.
18) What is the minimum marrying age? Both parties must be 18 years old to be legally married.