Post # 1
J and I recently came to a realisation that a friend of ours would do an AMAZING job if we asked him to perform our wedding ceremony. He was a middle school teacher of mine, and many years (and a career change) later, J worked under him at a wilderness camp. He is a true man of God and understands both of our hearts, as well as knowing us both. He’s also just plain, down right awesome. (We have been unable to discern any pastor we have in common, despite living in the same city for upwards of 16 years. 🙁 It’s a by-product of our LDR.)
However, when I started looking into the ordination process tonight (our friend is not ordained, to our knowledge), I was less-than-pleasantly surprised by what I found.
“we are all children of the same universe”
“Many paths lead to the same truth”
and a handful of other vague phrases make me a bit uncomfortable, because they don’t really express the religious sentiment that we are, uh, going for. I wouldn’t personally be comfortable using some of these sites that came up on the google search, and therefore don’t feel too comfortable asking our friend to do so either.
Some sites offer less information on their own ‘church’ vision though, so I don’t know if they’re as creepy and cultish (seeming) as the others or not.
How do you feel about having a friend ordained rather than having a traditionally ordained pastor perform your ceremony? And have you found any more genuine seeming paths to online ordination?
Post # 3
I’m a bit biased because I’m in the process of getting “for real” ordained as a Presby minister…so yeah, I’m not a fan of getting ordained online. Theologically speaking, where are we placing God when we buy God’s “call” for $29.99 and a valid Visa/Mastercard? Plus, having just had one semester of seminary, I know so much more about what marriage really means than I did before…I can’t imagine what I’ll know in two years, plus a lifetime in ministry! If a Christian Wedding is a worship service celebrating marriage (which I believe it is) then worship entails us humbling ourselves before God and acknowledging that God’s grace and mercy can’t be bought.
Sorry, I got on my soapbox. Those are my thoughts!
Post # 4
Hmm… honestly, it seems like some of these online churches have partially been established simply to allow people to get ordained quickly — whatever their reason may be, officiating a friend’s wedding, or otherwise. If you’re really worried about the beliefs of a particular online church being in line with your own, then you might have your work cut out for you.
We’re having a friend officiate our wedding, but we’re not religious, and religion isn’t playing any major role in our wedding ceremony. So all I can say is good luck! I hope you find an online church that you are comfortable with so that your friend can officiate for you. Otherwise, maybe having a traditional religious figure as your officiant is the way to go.
Post # 5
yeah, it’s hard, because this friend has been such a spiritual influence in both of our lives. We know him and his teaching style, and he would set the tone we want for our wedding — plus he’s been half of one of the most genuinely healthy and God-honoring marriages I’ve been privilege to witness for over 20 years now. They’ve raised three really amazing kids, and now that they’re getting to see the empty nest on the horizon, they’re in the process of adopting to more!
But it’s not like we can ask him to go to seminary. :/
We might do a JoP wedding to make it legal and then the big ceremony with him later (next day?) if we can’t get the ordination worked out.
@Mrs Dee – I totally understand the value of seminary, and can see your point; but we’re not asking him to preach or lead a church, we just want him to walk us through our vows and talk from his heart – which I think he can do in a way that will honor God, with or without a degree.
Post # 6
Once again, I’m not religious, so I might be coming at this from a different perspective, but it kind of seems like you have your answer. If you believe that your friend will officiate your wedding with a spiritual voice that echos your beliefs and your fiance’s beliefs, and that his ceremony would be meaningful for both of you, then it sounds like you have found the right officiant for your wedding. But keep in mind that this might mean that he will have to be ordained in one of these not-so-authentic online churches. If you can come to terms with that, then I say go for it.
Post # 7
I think of those online ordination services and their faux doctrine as just the price you pay for literally anyone to be allowed to perform a wedding ceremony legally. The online churches are exploiting a loophole in our laws that says that any pastor can legally perform a ceremony. So join the church, you become a pastor and poof, you can legally marry people. But I doubt that any serious Christian church would offer an online ordination type of service, because their whole ethos is that you have to be called to lead a congregation and go to seminary to be a pastor to therefore perform marriages. While you don’t have a personal connection with a legit Christian pastor, he or she would be a representative of the faith that is so important to you—not only a representative of the beliefs but also the institution itself. And a JoP, while impersonal, deletes the religious aspect altogether, allowing you to see to that as you see fit. The question is, which is more important: the credentials of the officiant or your personal connection to the officiant?
Post # 8
I don’t think the word for being allowed to legally officiate a wedding ceremony is “ordained,” is it? I mean… if it is, shoot, Mr. KM went through two years of hard school for nothin’!
Post # 9
I think that the online “ordination” thing is not really what you are looking for. Check with your county, but you might be able to have your friend pay a fee to obtain a one-day authorization to perform weddings. it is not related to any form of church, and then you don’t have to worry about the contradictions inherent in getting an online ordination. The form your ceremony takes can then be dictated by you, your Fiance, and your friend.
Post # 10
I echo what others have said here; the online “ordination” options are provided for those who are interested in avoiding religious institutions in their marriage. That’s wonderful that you have such an important and spiritual friend, and it might be very special to have him participate in your ceremony through a reading, and even to ask the blessing at the reception meal. I think that even as Christians, it’s easy not to be aware until we get married what the Christian understanding of marriage actually entails, in other words, the miracle of God making two people into one (whether you believe that symbolically or literally). As Mrs. Dee to Bee said, there is a tremendous amount about Christian marriage to learn in seminary, and I have felt extremely privileged to have access to that body of knowledge through our pastor and our conversations with marriage prep at church. I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide.
Post # 11
Online ordinations are not even legal in most states. You need to check with the marriage license office and ask if they allow someone to be legally ordained for the day who can perform the ceremony and what steps they would need to take.
Post # 12
I also do not think that online ordinations is what you really are looking for…It is not that simple to be an ordained minister in most states…My Fiance had to go through a lot of work to become an ordained minister and is now enrolled in seminary…I would just check your state laws…Also, are you having your wedding in a church because that might pose another issue…
Post # 13
I think the first question is to ask your friend if he would feel comfortable being ordained in a particular group that he is not currently part of. For me, as a religious person, I don’t like the thought of people joining a religious tradition unless they are personally commited to that faith/practice.
If he/you as a couple feel uncomfortable with this kind of ordination, then I think it would be better to get legally married the day before and then have your friend conduct the ceremony. As I’ve mentioned before on WB, I’m having several ceremonies because of our unique situation. We are having a formal Orthodox ceremony, but by the time we get to the Canadian ceremony, we’ll already be married in the eyes of God and the law. Therefore, we are hoping to have a friend of mine from university perform our Canadian ceremony. She is not an ordained minister, but she does youth and music ministry at her chruch (her husband is ordained). She is a fountain of wisdom and has been married for several years, so I really respect her experience and advice. Many Protestant churches put more emphasis on a person’s spiritual gifts and their history of how they have used their gifts as the test of who is a spiritual leader rather than on actual seminary experience and ordination. If you are from this kind of Christian background, then I think it’s very appropriate to have your friend marry you.
Post # 14
@KM, I was really surprised too to find that it really is called ordination. The sites that came up on the google search all talk about believing that anyone has a right to spread their beliefs and how you can be ordained in minutes online and then start your own church, perform weddings and baptisms, slaughter goats, etc (okay, not slaughter goats, but you get the picture — that’s why I was so repulsed!)
My dad is an ordained (protestant Christian) minister, for the record. I promise I really am a believer 😉 for all those who might be tempted to judge based on the fact that I want to be married by someone who I actually know and respect, rather than some random person who happens to have been through seminary. I’m getting married in a town I haven’t lived in for nearly 10 years, and aside from my dad, I have no connections here to the local church. And my dad doesn’t want to perform my ceremony, because, well, he wants to be able to sit back and take part in it as MY DAD, not a pastor.
@mhrini – what you talk about (a one-day ordination) is EXACTLY what I was expecting to find when I went to search the internets — does anyone know what a one day certificate that allows you to perform legally binding marriages would be called? Or how I can go about searching whether it’s an option where we’re getting married? (Kent County, MI, incase anyone feels a burning desire to search for me, haha)
Thanks for all of your input ladies – it DOES mean a lot to us to have him marry us, but we’d prefer for our marriage to, you know, be legally binding.
Post # 15
@DD – we had a friend do the online ordination and it was completely and totally legal and recognized in our state, but then again, so is a notary public. I could legally marry people here. But, our friend is also a Christian (as are we) but does not belong to a church for his own reasons (neither do we, for our own reasons) and he didn’t mind doing the ordination online. To us, all of that mojo on the website was just that – words. Words don’t mean a thing unless you believe them. Those aren’t the words we believe, and they didn’t change or affect our beliefs at all. I really think they have to have the “religious” aspect of it to be legal in a lot of states that do require that the person marrying you be a minister or whatever of a church. Therefore, they made it “religious” but so as not to discriminate or exclude, they made it a religious catch-call, of sorts. I doubt anyone actually subscribes to those sites as being a “church”.
Post # 16
@Layla, can I ask, which site/service did your friend use for ‘ordination’? Some are definitely creepier than others.