getting married? need someone to do the ceremony? ask me!!

over the past year i have had various people ask me if i could marry them = be the officiant at their wedding. actually, i’ve had that question asked of me previous years as well, it’s just that in the past 12 months there have been quite a few people, one right after another, who have wanted me to perform their ceremony.

of course, i’ve always had to decline.

in case you don’t know, here is why (i think!) i have been asked by friends and family if i could marry them:

  • i have worked in a church setting for a total of 10 years, so i have experience
  • i have been to seminary and received a master’s of divinity degree, so i have a theological education
  • people often want a friend or family member to perform their ceremony, making it more personal
  • people know that my faith/spirituality covers a vast ground (it is not limited to one religion/faith), so i can make a secular ceremony feel sacred – which it is

now, here is why i have said to say no:

  • i am a woman married to a woman
  • the denomination (united methodist/christian) which i was a member of would not ordain me since i was married to a woman
  • so, i am not ordained
  • therefore, i cannot legally perform wedding ceremonies – civil or religious

my ordination did not happen about 4 years ago, and throughout that time i have had a lot of time to process what that has meant to my life. i have been angry. i have been hurt. i have ignored it. i have put it away in a separate box. i have closed that chapter of my life.

and yet, it always keeps popping up. so, people have suggested that i transfer my membership to another denomination that will ordain all people – regardless of who they love ( = ordain gays + lesbians). i have tried to talk myself into that. but, it just hasn’t felt right. so, i have just stayed away from it all lately. i am just tired of it.

to make things even more confusing, when i lived in sweden, i worked at a church (baptist and methodist… there is a new denomination in sweden that has recently been created from 3 common denominations). anyway, while working there, i had all of the rights and privileges as a pastor/minister. i did not perform any marriages or funerals (though i have done funerals in the past). but, the congregation voted/agreed that, given my education and experience, i had the authority and was set apart to serve in a pastor’s role, administer the lord’s supper/communion, doing baptism, preaching, counseling, and anything else that came up in the life of a church.

basically, i did not need any formal ordination from an institution in order to serve people. the people agreed and asked me to serve.


lina and me on our wedding day. 26 december 2009

so, from the experience in sweden of not needing a formal ordination and still serving others, to the invitations i have received to perform the marriages of friends or family, i began toying with an idea that i had never thought seriously of before. truthfully, i did not agree with it until i was discriminated against myself and found myself looking for ways to be ordained. i realized that i was stuck – believing that i had to be ordained in the united methodist church. but, that was silly. because, in reality, i was already doing everything. i did it from my heart, with integrity. no, i began to understand that i did not need a mainstream institution to ordain me – god/the universal spirit had already done that.

this is a change from my beliefs a while back. and i realize i sound like a crazy person that just wakes up one days and decides to “ordain” him or herself, and then proceeds to go crazy with the congregation that he/she leads – teaching them to follow his/her beliefs.

but i’m not that person. i don’t ever want to be that person. never. ever. in fact, i’m here, not to tell others what to believe, but to simply be a companion or a guide on each person’s own journey – faith or no faith. i listen. i ask questions. i challenge. i support. but, i decide nothing.

so, with this sense of freedom to do my spiritual work with people on a personal basis, i began to wonder if i should be ordained online. you know, click some keys, fill in some info, and get the approval to legally perform marriages. no sooner had i had this thought that i immediately put it out of my head. it was preposterous.**


a photo from a wedding i photographed two weeks ago.

then, one more couple asked me if i could marry them. and they were dead serious. they had no one else to really ask, and they knew my background. they wanted a secular wedding, and yet, they still wanted someone with some theological knowledge and experience. they kept talking to me… really wanting me, telling me how it would just work because i would “get them” and be able to plan the ceremony that they want.

before i knew it, i was telling them that i would marry them in december – and that i’d get ordained online as soon as possible. and this all happened at my (and lina’s) birthday party.

fast forward to last week, and they started texting me, asking when i could get it done. they want to set up a time to begin to plan asap.

so, yesterday, i just clicked around on the internet looking for different online ordination sites. i’ve looked before, many, many times. trying to understand and find something that might fit with my beliefs and yet, help me keep my integrity in tact. soon, i found a site that explained alot of the legal stuff, state by state. it was organized very well, and it’s tenets/beliefs lined right up with mine: marriage is for all, regardless of faith (or no faith) being the most important one.

i filled out a form for information (or so i thought) and clicked “submit”. soon after, i received an email saying that i had been added as an ordained minister, that i had  a clergy number (to write on legal documents), and that i could now perform marriages or anything else a person/my congregation asked of me.

what i am trying to say here, is this: i can now legally perform marriages, friends. so… ask away! i’d be so completely honored to celebrate your love with you.

does this feel weird? yes. i worked my ass off for years to be ordained within the united methodist church, but i was rejected because of my own marriage to a woman. and, after so many years of… well, torment and pain, i clicked a few buttons and filled in a few forms, and poof! i can marry people.

but, while it feels very weird, i accept that this has been my journey. and this makes sense to my life right now. i have been asked to serve in capacities that i could not serve in because i refused to leave my united method ordination behind. but, i realize now that, in order to move forward, i had to let go of the past. i had to stop standing in limbo, waiting for things to change. it was time to make shit happen.

but, i never would have realized that had i not been gently pushed by friends and family.


one more big thing: marriage equality is coming to north carolina. soon it looks like 30 states will allow same sex marriages. right now, we are actually waiting to hear word that all people can marry in north carolina. and the word could come tomorrow!!!

so, with all of the marriage equality progress, my friends asking me to marry them at my birthday party last week, and my unintentional in the moment ordination online, i realize that the timing is right for all of this. the stars have lined up, and this is meant to be.

not only am i ready and legally approved to marry people now, but marriage equality may be coming to my home state – so my own marriage to lina will be a legal marriage in north carolina – finally!

whew. what a journey. what timing. what an amazing gift – to be able to celebrate love with people – religious or not, same sex or not. what a joy!

love + light xx

basically, i am available to do two things at your wedding: i can perform the ceremony or i can take your photographs (or we can work out a weird combination of the two!). so, get in touch with me!
** disclaimer: in no way do i see this “ordination online” as being comparable to ordination within a denomination. however, it fulfills a need and helps me answer my calling to serve others by celebrating the beauty of love and marriage with them at this point in my life. i do recognize it as part of my spiritual journey.

0 thoughts on “getting married? need someone to do the ceremony? ask me!!

  1. Woooah, I realise this post is big news, so therefore firstly CONGRATS! But I’m confused… can anyone ordain online to then be able to marry people?! OR Is it BECAUSE of your background?
    so are you ordained (sorry if this doens’t read right I’m not really down on how to use the word ordain?!) in a christian capacity… or in a none religious capacity?
    Is this international applying, or a USA thing?
    We’re getting civil ceremony marriage, proper married (THANKFULLY to the UK now rolling into the 21st century!), but not religious ceremony, as Gemma and I are both not that way inclined… It’s so interesting though!
    Well done 🙂
    PS. the wedding picture is beautiful!

    1. Ok, it’s kinda complication, but here’s the lowdown:
      Anyone can get ordained online – through various organizations that are especially set up to ordain people to conduct marriages – religious or secular, it just depends on what the wedding couple wants. It is considered a religious thing, but it does not stipulate anything religious – so I can use any faith (or non-faith that I want, which is just perfect for me). I can be a spiritual guide, without subscribing to any institution. There are lots of crazy organizations out there that ordain online, but I feel that I found one that spoke directly to what I was wanting to do – offer marriage to anyone (as long as it is legal in that state/country). I am under the impression that it is an international license as well.

      Marriage is a legal contract in the US, so it has to be done by someone (religious or not) who is approved to do it according to state laws. People, of course, either get married in a church or have a civil service – done in a city hall by a judge or done outside, in their home, in another rented space with the officiant of their choice, tailoring their ceremony to be as religious or not as they want. These are the kinds of marriages that I can perform. Ordination online gives you that legal right to marry people. As for religious or not, that is up to the people who are getting married. Most likely if someone wants a religious ceremony they will go to their church. I cannot marry people in a church. But, I can and will make a ceremony whatever the couple wants. The people who have asked me in the past to marry them have all wanted non-religious ceremonies, but ones that are meaningful and inspiring.

      Hope that makes a a little bit of sense. 🙂

      Thank, thank you!! xoxo

      1. Gosh its all rather complicated… Well done for getting thru the mine field!! Sounds fab for you!!
        I’m just single minded, I just wanna get hitched and get my wife to be labelled up haha 😉

  2. Hey, you! I’m so proud of you! You’re such an amazing, wonderful, gifted person and I’m so glad that you can now help make other people’s special day exactly what they want – you doing what you were so made for! Congrats! I’m so proud of you and I’m excited for the day that you’re my bridesmaid/wedding photographer/officiate? We need to come up with a title for that 😉 LOVE YOU!

  3. That makes me very happy. And it almost makes me want to get married. If I do I’ll be in touch. So glad you’re going to marry people. This post made me cry, I went to a Southern Baptist seminary and I understand much of what you’ve gone through. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I don’t have the words, Liz. But this post is beautiful and soulful and wonderful and yes – about time! I’m so happy for you, for the couples you will celebrate, and for marriage equality everywhere. I just absolutely loved this post. (big hug)

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