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WEdding faq

Answers to the questions I hear a lot.

Some couples don’t think finding an Officiant will be a problem because there are hundreds to choose from. Then once they start to research Officiants and realize the person they hire is going to be the voice of their wedding ceremony, suddenly it does make a difference who that person is. Another consideration is day of the week -- Saturdays and Sundays are the most popular days for weddings and, for most Officiants, those dates are the first to be booked.

Below are Officiant Frank Harlan's answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions he receives from couples who are just starting to plan their wedding day.

Number 1 Question:
How far in advance should we book our Wedding Officiant?
If you want choices, consider meeting with, and making a commitment to an Officiant as soon as you know your wedding date and have booked your venue. The details of your wedding ceremony can always be worked out closer to your wedding. I have couples who have booked me as far out as a year and a half, especially for Destination Weddings with guests coming from other states and countries.

Q: Do we need to apply for a Marriage License in Washington State?
 Couples are responsible for obtaining a Marriage License in Washington.

Couples click here to get a marriage license in King County. For King Co. the process may be completed through the mail. NOTE: You Do Not have to get your marriage license in the county you plan to have your wedding. You may get your marriage license in any county and it can be used anywhere in Washington State. Search "Marriage License + County" for a direct link.

Q: Are couples required to be residents of Washington State to be married in Washington?
No, you are not required to be a resident of Washington or of the United States to get married in Washington.


Q: What makes our marriage legal?
In Washington and many other states, any Judge or Ordained Clergy Person (OCP) of a legally recognized church may marry you. It is the obtaining and filing of the certificate of marriage that makes a marriage legal. Your marriage license must be obtained by you; then legal documents completed and filed by the Officiant (or you).


Q: After we are married, what is the process for Changing our Name?
All marriage license documents are signed with one's current legal name, never the intended new name. There is no legal requirement for name change after getting married; it is a right a couple may choose to exercise.


So, the easiest way to answer this question is to suggest that you
CLICK HERE for a more helpful answer. Although aimed at brides, practical info for all genders.​

Q: What are Frank Harlan's qualifications to perform legally-binding wedding ceremony?
Originally, I was ordained as a member of the Clergy of the Church of Spiritual Humanism. Since then I have been endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant by The Humanist Society in conjunction with the American Humanist Association. These credentials allow me perform legal functions of the Clergy in all 50 States. Philosophically, I consider myself a Secular Humanist.


Q: What does "Officiant and Celebrant " mean?
Officiant or Celebrant is a secular title used by an Ordained Clergy Person (OCP) who is legally authorized to preside over a wedding ceremony. Persons representing religious organizations may prefer the title, Pastor or Minister.

Q: How long does a Wedding Ceremony take?

A: The average length of a ceremony that I script with a couple can be from 20 to 50 minutes long. Depending on the various elements incorporated into their ceremony.


However, a marriage can be legally solemnized in less than 5 minutes, plus the time it takes to fill in the blanks and sign off on your legal documents. Click Here for Courthouse-style Wedding

Q: How many witnesses do we need can they be related to us?
You need two witnesses present for any Marriage Ceremony. It is required that they are 12 years of age or older. Any person can act as a witness; parents, siblings and friends. Even your photographer. The presiding Officiant (me) cannot act as a witness.


"For me, a couple's wedding is a transformational event. That's why I produce their wedding ceremony with them, from the time the guests arrive until they make their exit up the aisle."

Q: Can we write our own vows?
 Of course! I encourage it. You can do anything you want, it’s your wedding ceremony! I'll even give you some pointers and my guide to "Creating Your Marriage Vows", anything you need to inspire you and get your creative juices flowing.


Q: Can we include elements from different cultural traditions into our Wedding Ceremony?
Of course! Anything you would like to add makes for an even more personalized ceremony. I can assist you in defining where and how your creative ideas can be incorporated.


Q: Will you incorporate religious readings and verse into our wedding ceremony?


Q: Can we include my friends and family members in our ceremony?
Yes, the majority of the ceremony must be performed by me as your Officiant but your friends can have minor roles throughout the wedding ceremony. I will show you all of your options when we have our initial consultation.

Q: Is it okay to tip an Officiant?
 I never turn down a contribution to my "Date Night Fund". I don’t know what other Officiants do, but any tips I receive I use to treat my "better half", Molly, to a night out on the town.

Q: WE HAVE A BIG SECRET... We eloped a couple years ago without telling anyone, now we would like to have a full-on formal wedding ceremony for family and friends, is that something you could do? As well as keep our secret?
Yes, of course. I get this request a few times each year. If this is your situation, you can count on me to create a first-time experience for you and a memorable wedding for all of your invited guests without ever exposing "your secret."

Q: Are you available to perform weddings in other states or countries?
Because of my endorsement with The Humanist Society as a Humanist Celebrant. I can perform weddings in all of the United States. In other countries, I can perform your "Formal Wedding Ceremony" for family and friends, but it would not be legally-binding in your country.

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