A Beautiful Ceremony by Peter
Selfie with the wifey!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How long have you been performing weddings? I have performed over 1000 wedding ceremonies since 1992. I love what I do and always enjoy meeting new people!
What type of ceremony do you perform? My default ceremony is non-denominational and spiritual in tone. Essentially I discuss the importance of having balance in your marriage and to appreciate the partnership in life that you have established with your spouse. If you choose, you are more than welcome to add some religious elements to the ceremony. However, that is entirely up to you. I would say that 98% of the ceremonies that I'm asked to perform for couples are non-religious.
How do your fees work? I have standard fees that are based on distance and travel time. Obviously, the further I need to travel the greater my fee. Note that if you book with me off season my fees are usually lower. However, as we approach May, June, July and August, which are the peak months for weddings, my fees do increase. To reserve the date and time I do require a non-refundable deposit. This amount is applied to the fee. (Please click on the "Services" tab above for my current fees).
How long is your ceremony? My basic ceremony runs approximately 12-15 minutes. However, you are perfectly welcome to add your own elements to the service. These additional elements may include a reading, music, a sand ceremony or unity candle. I will e-mail you a copy of my ceremony in advance for review. And no, you do not need to memorize anything!
Where are you located? I live in Brookfield, Wisconsin and perform ceremonies at locations within a two hour drive.
Will you travel further? Yes. But please note that for longer distances I charge for my time to travel there and back.
Do you attend rehearsals? Yes. I love being able to make sure the bride and groom and everyone involved in the ceremony are on the same page. I will work with you to make sure we have the smoothest ceremony possible. I do charge an additional fee of $100-125 to attend and coordinate the processional/recessional with you. Rehearsals are limited to one hour and may not be available in all areas. Additional fees may apply for travel time.
What do you wear? A black suit and tie.
Can we write our own vows? Yes. If you feel inclined to write your own marriage vows those can easily be incorporated into my existing ceremony. Often times couples will recite their vows to each other. If you need to read from your notes, that's perfectly acceptable. Again, you do not need to memorize anything.
Can we write our own ceremony? While I don't mind reading short passages or poems, I do prefer to use my own ceremony script. Please keep in mind that I have been using the same basic ceremony script for many years and have developed a certain style with it that I like to project. As I essentially have my ceremony ingrained to memory I'm able to make eye contact with you and the audience without having to read too much from notes. However, if there is something additional that you'd like for me to include in the ceremony, please let me know. I'm happy to work with you.
When do you arrive at the ceremony and will we have time to talk to you beforehand? I usually arrive at least a half hour before the start of your ceremony. I will meet briefly with both of you, either together or individually, to review the ceremony and answer any last minute questions you might have. Please have both your marriage license and the balance of my fee available for me when I arrive. It is also your responsibility to make sure that we start at the scheduled time. During the peak season I often have other weddings scheduled on the same day, so time is of the essence. While I realize weddings don't always start on time, ceremonies that are egregiously late may be subject to an additional fee for my time.
Do you require a podium for the ceremony? No. And, if possible, I prefer not to use one. I need to interact with you during the ceremony. A podium only gets in the way.
I'm having difficulty finding readings and/or poetry to use in my ceremony. Any suggestions? The best place to find wedding related material is on the Internet. Just Google it. You'll be pleasantly surprised at what you can find!
Do you perform renewal of vows or commitment ceremonies? Yes.
Do you perform baptisms or funerals? No.
Do you perform ceremonies in horse drawn carriages? Yes.
Do you require or provide pre-marital counseling? No.
Do you perform Spanish language ceremonies? Yes. However, my Spanish is limited. Normally I will speak some parts in Spanish and do the remainder of the ceremony in English.
Do you perform theme weddings? If it's done in good taste and is dignified I'm willing to participate. I have performed Hawaiian style beach weddings wearing an Aloha shirt, motorcycle weddings, hot rod weddings and even sci-fi themed weddings. While I'm happy to help you out, as a professional, I do not wear costumes. Sorry, no Elvis impersonations or Spock ears!
Are you available by telephone to discuss the ceremony? Absolutely. My fee includes a telephone consultation. I will walk you through the ceremony and answer any questions you might have about the entire process.
Do you have a chapel? No, but I am happy to meet you at your selected location.
Do you provide a PA? I do have a small portable PA with a mic. Please let me know in advance if you would like for me to bring it along. There is a nominal fee.
In the event you become unavailable to perform our ceremony, do you have a back-up officiant? Yes. I have associates who can cover for me in the event of an emergency or scheduling conflict.
Do you charge for meetings? Yes, for in person meetings I charge a $25 consultation fee. I accept pre-payment via PayPal.
What is your preferred mode of communication? E-mails and/or text works best for me. I can usually get back to you much quicker than by phone.
Do you file the marriage license? Yes. I will file your license with the county register of deeds. Note that the marriage license is always filed in the county where the ceremony was performed.
Do you mail us a copy of the marriage license? No. To obtain a certified copy of your marriage license you will need to contact the register of deeds in the county where your ceremony was performed. I do not keep copies.
What if we lose or don't obtain our marriage license in time for our scheduled ceremony? I can still perform the ceremony, however, it will not be legally binding until you present a valid marriage license to me. In these situations you'll both need to sign a waiver indicating that I am performing a mock marriage ceremony and that it is not legally valid.
What is your policy if we need to reschedule our ceremony? I allow one reschedule contingent on the new date and time being available. There may also be an additional fee if the venue is changed to a more distant location.
How far in advance will you schedule a wedding? As a rule of thumb I don't book any weddings more than one year out. As I don't know what my work/vacation schedule will be it's difficult to lock in a date that far in advance. Normally most couples will book their weddings with me from about 6 months out. Late Spring, Summer and early Fall is the peak season. During the colder months I'm usually wide open.
Payment: A $25 non-refundable deposit is required to book your date. For weddings scheduled during peak months the deposit is $50. You may pay with personal check or money order. Upon receipt of your deposit I will e-mail you a confirmation. The balance of my fee may be paid on the day of your wedding. Cash or money order only. No personal checks on the day of wedding. Please click on the "Booking" tab above for further instructions.
If we cancel our ceremony with you do we get our deposit back? No. Please keep in mind that I only have so many weekend dates available. If a party cancels I'm not guaranteed that I can reschedule that same date. Others may have been turned away who also wanted the time that you originally scheduled with me. I also have administrative costs. If you do decide to proceed at a later date I will honor your original deposit.
May we pay for your services all in advance? Yes.
How and where do we apply for a marriage license? In Wisconsin both parties to the marriage will need to apply in person at the county clerk's office in the county where you reside. You will both need to show a drivers license, passport or similar form of government issued ID. In addition, you will both need to bring along certified copies of your birth certificate and a divorce judgment (if either of you were previously married). Once the license is issued it is valid for 30 days. You CANNOT use another state's marriage license in Wisconsin. The county clerk does make exceptions for out of state residents and will provide the license the same day that you file. If you have any more questions, please contact the clerk's office in your county. I have included a list of phone numbers for selected county clerk offices. Click on the "Resources" tab above.
Do we need witnesses for the ceremony? Yes. In Wisconsin two adult witnesses are required. Both witnesses must sign the marriage license. Relatives can sign.
Do you use a formal contract for your services? No. I will confirm the ceremony time, date and location with you via e-mail so that you have a written record of our transaction. Your deposit check is your receipt.
Do you attend the reception and/or rehearsal dinner? Not required, but if you'd like to invite me, I'm more than happy to attend!
Do you accept tips? Again, not required. However, if you feel I did a good job a gratuity is always appreciated!
Any other advice for us? Weddings are serious affairs, but they are also meant to be fun! Don't overthink it. The people you hire to help you with your wedding are all professionals and have been doing this for many years - including myself. You will be in good hands. I promise.
Bio: I graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 1988 and earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Western Michigan University - Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan in 1992. I currently practice law in the Milwaukee area. In 1990 I received my matrimonial minister ordination. I married my beautiful wife Kelly in 1999. We enjoy traveling, fine dining, entertaining and physical fitness. I am also a professional musician and have recorded and toured nationally with my band.