When all is said and done, your ceremony is the main event of your wedding day – even if your reception takes up the bulk of the budget. If you don’t already have a church in mind, check out these options available to you.
At a Church
If you and you’re fiancé are affiliated with a church, your home church and minister are going to be your natural choice for your ceremony. Even if you are marrying far from home, you still have options. The first is to choose a church in the town where you’re marrying – perhaps the church you grew up in, the church your parents or other family attend, or a church of the same denomination you attend here at home.
What if you’re not associated with a church but still want a church wedding? Some churches will marry non-members; you’ll have to make calls and ask. Some denominations will ask for a donation in lieu of a fee for the minister and building use. Some will ask that you attend premarital counseling.
If your marriage is uniting two faith traditions, talk to your churches about having ministers from both churches officiate your wedding. Or, have one perform the ceremony and ask the other to say a blessing over you at the reception.
At Your Reception Venue
Many reception facilities can set up a separate ceremony site, either in your reception room or in a different place from your reception or cocktail hour. Some reception halls even have gardens or gazebos available for outdoor weddings. At an outdoor wedding, set up a second tent for your ceremony or use landscaping or gardens already available to make your ceremony space separate from your dinner space.
At the Courthouse
Consider a civil ceremony if neither you nor your fiance (or your families) are associated with a church or if neither of you feel comfortable hiring a member of the clergy just for your ceremony. A civil service may also be right for you if there are conflicting religious beliefs in your families, and the only way to satisfy everyone is to go outside of both faith traditions. Or, you might choose a civil ceremony if time is of the essence because of a military deployment, overseas move, or other reason.
Non-denominational ministers aren’t affiliated with a specific church and can help you customize your wedding to be as religious (or not) as you’d like. Most will work at any location and are already qualified to perform weddings in Maryland.
Friend or Relative
Having a relative or close friend declare you husband and wife can be incredibly meaningful, but not just anyone can jump up and perform your ceremony. Search “perform weddings” to find online ordination services that can give your loved one the proper ministerial credentials to perform your ceremony. Read the fine print to make sure your new officiant will be legal in Maryland.