Saturday, January 24, 2009

Finding an officiant

When you look at the planning timelines suggested by various magazines and websites, booking a ceremony venue is often one of the first things on the list. And with it tends to come booking an officiant, which makes the two tasks all rolled up in one; when you find a venue, you find an officiant.

For us, though, we knew we weren't going to get married in a church (one of our venue criteria was that we could have the ceremony and reception in the same location), and we knew we most likely weren't going to get married by a religious official. There are various reasons for that, the most important being that neither of us is particularly religious. So we've had our ceremony site for over a year, but just got an officiant in the last few weeks.

I've documented our search for an officiant before, here and here, and you, my dear readers, had some good suggestions for us. Hiring one of the Louisville justices of the peace was out, since none of them was right for us. I found the names of a couple of non-denominational ministers on my local Knot board and on the internet, but they charged exorbitant (by our standards) fees. It was suggested numerous times that we have a friend or family member ordained via the internet to perform our marriage ceremony, but to be honest, we couldn't decide who to ask. Why my brother rather than Eric's sister, or my sisters? Why this friend instead of that friend? Everything about it seemed -- to me at least -- to be choosing unfairly, and our wedding is all about being fair.

Actually, one of Eric's best men, Joel, IS an internet-ordained minister. He got ordained back in the dark ages of the internet, because he's a computer geek and he thought it was cool. (Not that it isn't.) He's never performed a ceremony, but when it was brought up by another friend, both Joel and Eric felt instantly unsure that it would be a good idea. Joel was too worried that he would screw up -- a sign of how much he valued his friendship with Eric, I think, which is actually kind of flattering. In any case, the only already-ordained internet minister we had was not going to work out.

One of the women in my Student Affairs office recommended Todd Eklof, a local Unitarian minister who performed the wedding ceremony of a friend's daughter. I did some googling, found him, and immediately liked him. Here's an excerpt from his bio: "He came to Louisville in 1986 to attend Southern Theological Seminary, but soon left after finding it too intellectually and spiritually stifling." Ha! I don't know a whole lot about STS, but from what I do know, I'm not surprised someone would say that.

Upon further research, though, it turned out Todd Eklof wouldn't be a viable option, either. Since 2004, Mr. Eklof has vowed not to perform any marriage ceremonies, because Kentucky is one of the states that bans gay marriage. Here is an excerpt from the sermon he gave explaining his decision: "
Marriage has become an institution used to discriminate against a segment of our society and I refuse to participate in it until it has been redeemed."

Wow. How powerful. Even though we really weren't looking for a religious ceremony, this kind of made me want him to marry us even more, but I respect his decision and hope these bans crumble in the years to come.

Reader, future-sister-in-law, bridesmaid, and mother to our flower girl, Paige, suggested that we look into civil celebrants, so we did. From, I found out that civil celebrants are people who perform ceremonies for a variety of life events, including weddings. I had never heard of a civil celebrant before, but it sounded like the kind of thing we were looking for. There were no celebrants listed for Kentucky, but after sending off a request email, I got back the names of two who worked in Ohio. The first one, who goes by the name Persephone (which, to be honest, freaked me out a little), communicated with me by email, inquired about our budget, and flat-out told me there was no way she could accommodate it. Argh. (Incidentally, part of her price quote included asking how many people were in our wedding party and how many guests there would be; I really don't understand why that factors into things. Any ideas?)

The second, Ricki Huff, set up a phone call with me, and we had a wonderful conversation. She wasn't sure if she was legally able to perform ceremonies in Kentucky, but promised to look into it for me. We really hit it off over the phone, and even though her quote was on the higher end of what we had in mind, I knew it would be money well spent. Something about her voice was just... so... nice and soothing. She actually said something along the same lines, remarking that she normally wouldn't want to travel to Louisville for a wedding, even if she was reimbursed for travel, because it's slightly out of her way. But, she said, she has some old friends in Louisville that she could visit, and there was something about my voice that made her think it would be a nice ceremony to perform. What a nice compliment, right?

In any case, she would have been a wonderful officiant to perform our ceremony, but we ended up not hiring her for reasons I'll disclose next time.

So to recap, we considered three justices of the peace, one or two local non-denominational ministers, a Unitarian minister, our best man Joel, and two civil celebrants, but ended up choosing none of them. Who are we going to have marry us, then? Stay tuned to find out!