What is the procedure for obtaining a Marriage License?
The city of Concord has a very informative webpage that answers all of the pertinent questions about the Marriage License Application Process. Check it out to get the most frequently asked questions answered, and please remember that this is the Concord, NH page - you do NOT need to go to Concord to obtain your license. You can do it in any city or town in the state.
How far in advance should we book our JP or Celebrant?
I recommend booking your Justice of the Peace as soon as possible. Even up to a year in advance is not too soon. Doing it sooner rather than later gives you a chance to interview a few different JPs, and gives you the time to choose someone you feel comfortable with. Although I prefer to be contacted early, I am not opposed to working with you if you contact me on relatively short notice.
What sets you apart from other JPs and Celebrants? Why should we choose you to perform our Marriage?
There are many excellent JPs and Celebrants in New Hampshire so, although it's difficult to answer this question, I'll try to offer some points that distinguish me from other Marriage Officiants: First,
my fees are reasonable, and there are no hidden fees or extra expenses like travel fees to contend with as long as your ceremony is in the towns we serve - the fees you see on my home page are the fees you pay. Second, having a Wedding Ceremony Coordinator available that will accompany me to Rehearsals/Ceremonies on request is a big plus. Many of my couples comment on how helpful it was to have someone coordinate their Rehearsal and Ceremony. Third, I am a very involved Celebrant. Even if it is just a simple, short Ceremony, I believe that my role involves more than just performing the ceremony. As soon as I arrive my work starts. Before the Ceremony begins, I make sure that your DJ or Musician(s) know all of their cues, and I review the Ceremony with your Photographer so s/he can get the best shots possible. I make sure the Best Man, Maid of Honor, and anyone else who has a role to play knows what they need to do and when. I'll answer any last minute questions you have. Basically, I help in any way I can. Also, although it may not seem like a big point, my couples like the fact that I don't rush through the Ceremony. My style is more laid back - I take my time, and let you know what to do and say every step of the way so that you can just relax and enjoy every minute of your Wedding. Finally, I believe the most important things are sometimes intangible. Knowing that you have an experienced, professional Marriage Officiant who enjoys what he does, who's main goal is to make your wedding day enjoyable for you, and with whom you can feel relaxed, is worth its weight in gold!
Do you have any testimonials?
I'm not really a big fan of soliciting testimonials from my couples, and it is a little too easy for vendors to "game" the wedding review sites, so I don't ask my couples to visit sites to write a review either, but I do enjoy what the business site Yelp* calls "organic" testimonials... unsolicited testimonials like the ones on Eventective, The Knot, and Weddingbee...
If you'd like to read more testimonials, you can find them at our Blue Sky Weddings Site. Some of those come from the early 2000's when we use to request that our couples give us strategic reviews of our strengths and weaknesses, but most come from the many Thank You Cards we receive.
Can we see you perform a ceremony?
Absolutely! In the following video you can see for yourself a wedding ceremony performed by John and choreographed by Cathy at the beautiful Three Chimneys Inn in Durham, NH. The wonderful couple (Eliot & Heather) had their wedding videotaped, and were so thrilled with the ceremony and all the proceedings that they have allowed us to share it with other couples so that those couples can have the advantage of seeing us and one of our ceremonies before choosing us for their big day.
Notice how smoothly the ceremony goes - from the processional march to the Bride's father handing her off to the Groom - from the passing of the bouquet, to the reading - from the ring exchange to the recessional march. Also, notice how relaxed the couple is, and how they are thoroughly enjoying their ceremony along with their wedding party! All of this is a result of how we work with our couples to help them plan and create the perfect wedding ceremony for them. It also demonstrates the importance of a rehearsal especially for more involved weddings.
I could go on about what we did in order to have this ceremony go so smoothly, but I'll resist that temptation and just say that we usually go over all that when we meet with our couples. I wish the audio had been of slightly better quality, but you can still get a pretty good idea of our style. Also, you can hear some of the groomsmen having some fun amongst themselves especially at the beginning of the ceremony - boys will be boys! Enjoy!...
Can we meet you before making our decision?
Of course! Meeting me is not a necessity, but it is certainly an option. All meetings usually take place at my office in Exeter, NH.
How much do you charge for meetings?
There is no charge for meeting with me. Also, there is no pressure to book me. I like couples to be able to meet me in a stress-free environment where they can make a good evaluation. In fact, I recommend that you go home, think about it, talk it over with each other, and then call me if you'd like me to perform your Marriage. Also, this meeting gives me a chance to make sure that I can provide you with the services you are looking for. I want to make sure that it is a good match all around.
We are interested in one of the Pre-Written Ceremonies, but we'd like to choose our own vows - is this possible?
Yes. Except for the two "Lite" ceremonies, you can customize the vows on all ceremonies however you wish. One of my main philosophies is that this is YOUR Wedding, and you should have what you want included in the Ceremony. I encourage this and, if requested, will help you to choose your vows.
Where do you perform your Weddings?
I perform weddings in Rockingham, Strafford, Hillsborough, and Merrimack Counties of New Hampshire, York County in Maine, and Essex County in Massachusetts (See the Towns Served page for more information).
Where can the Ceremony be held?
This is your choice. New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts have a variety of great spots! For outdoor Weddings, couples will choose the beach, boats, hill tops, parks, courtyards, and even their own back yards. For indoor Weddings, banquet halls, chapels, restaurants, and their own homes are popular. And, of course, you can always use the beautiful McDonnell Conservation Area in Exeter, where I do weddings at a discount!
How many Weddings do you do a day?
It depends. I prefer to do only one, but I may do two or even three if they are close together and the couples are having trouble finding an Officiant for the day.
On our Wedding day, what time will you arrive at the site and when do you leave?
I'll usually arrive about 20 to 30 minutes in advance of your Ceremony. I'll leave when the Ceremony is over, unless you'd like me to stay for photos!
What do you wear?
I'll usually wear a suit, but really, I'll wear whatever you would like me to wear. My goal is to blend in with the Wedding as best I can, so I'll ask you if you have a special color theme or themes, and I'll also ask you if there is anything special you'd like me to wear.
Can you renew our vows?
I do Vow Renewal Ceremonies for couples whom I have already married. Most are now 10 year renewals, but I am coming up on 20 years performing marriages, so I expect some 20 year renewals soon! Sorry, I do not renew vows for couples whose weddings I have not performed.
Do you use a contract?
Yes. As soon as you have indicated that you would like me to perform your Ceremony, I put together and email you a contract so that you can reserve my services for the specific day and time. The contract also provides a "courtesy hold date" that reserves my services for the day and time of your Wedding without contract or reservation fee during the time you are receiving, signing, and returning the contract to me. This is done to allay any fear you might have of losing the day and time to another couple who may express an interest in my services before your contract gets back to me.
What are the provisions of the contract as far as payments are concerned?
I require a non-refundable reservation fee of $65.00 or 50% (whichever is less), with the balance due on the day of the event, prior to the beginning of the Ceremony, if it is a Wedding where I will not be attending the Rehearsal. If you elect to have me at the Rehearsal, I usually recommend paying the balance then. (The less you have to remember on the day of your Wedding, the better!)
What do you need to have us bring to the Ceremony?
Bring your Marriage License, some form of ID, the balance of the fee and, if you are using them, don't forget your rings and bridal bouquet!