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Marriage equality in Utah … now what?

That’s an interesting question and I have been fielding a lot of them since marriage equality came back to Utah and is here to stay. Because the LGBT community in Utah has not previously been marketed for wedding ceremonies, many of you are simply not aware of the details that go into a legal wedding ceremony. I am here to serve you by helping you with much needed, though often not discussed, details of your ceremony. Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Rev. Christopher T. Scuderi of Universal Heart Ministry, I am a local nondenominational community minister providing custom written, personalized wedding ceremonies along with a wide array of other spiritual services and rites. During the magical 17 days in December 2013-January 2014 I donated my time and performed 92 wedding ceremonies in multiple counties. It is my distinct honor to continue to serve you and to help bring better understanding of these proceedings.

First things first

You must obtain a marriage license. A member of clergy, a judge or a celebrant cannot get these documents for you. As a couple, you must go in to the county clerk’s office together, fill out the application for a marriage license (some counties have this form available online to be filled out in advance), give the completed form to the clerk, show them your photo IDs (drivers license or state issued identification card) and pay the application fee (fees vary by county). The clerk will enter the information in the computer and then print your documents and give them to you. You will receive a marriage license (which is the legal document) and a certificate of marriage as a decorative keepsake.

Please be diligent and verify that all information is accurate and spelled correctly on the documents; any inaccuracies make the license null and void, which means you must start all over again. You are not yet legally married; that only comes after a ceremony has taken place where both parties have spoken their consent and will to be married, have signed the marriage license, two witnesses (18 years of age or older) have signed the marriage license and the person who officiated the ceremony has also signed. It is then the duty of the officiant to return the completed and signed marriage license to the county that issued it. The ceremony can be performed in any county; it does not have to be in the county from which you received your license.

Securing an officiant

Not “just anyone” can legally perform your marriage, they must be ordained through religious practice, be an elected official or deputized by law, or at the very least have received celebrant credentials.

Some counties may have staff on hand to perform civil wedding ceremonies. If what you want is a simple civil ceremony performed by the county clerk and if the county clerk’s office where you obtain your marriage license performs ceremonies, you will need to schedule an appointment for the ceremony to take place and you will need to pay an additional fee for the service. Another option is your local mayor.

You may choose to have a clergy member (minister, priest/priestess, rabbi, reverend, etc.) from your church or within your faith perform the wedding ceremony. Someone who has received their ordainment through an online course or similar entity is a celebrant that can also legally perform your wedding ceremony. The fees for each of these vary widely; you will need to discuss pricing with each one individually. Many officiants can be found online in wedding directories.

Cakes, florists and venues…oh my!

Not every couple will go “all out” with a big ceremony and all the accoutrements that come with it; in fact, some will go for a lighter fare and still some will go even lighter than that. Whatever you decide for your special day, know that there are an abundance of people who want to ensure that your day is every bit as beautiful as you had ever hoped it would be. Wedding vendors such as apparel, cake shops, florists, venues and so many more are vying for your attention and can easily be found at the myriad of bridal shows and, of course, online. Not everyone is part of a chain; there are many wonderful local options to be found as well.

A detailed training for couples (on these issues and more) and another specifically for officiants will be held soon. If you would like more information visit my website at www.UniversalHeartMinistry.com. I can also be reached at [email protected] or by phone/text 801-577-0542.

Christopher Scuderi

Rev. Christopher T. Scuderi is a minister with UniversalHeartMinistry.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone/text 801-577-0542.

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