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More and more people are opting for civil ceremonies for weddings. This has made hiring a justice of peace quite a common practice in a few states of US. In some states, Justice of Peace is a designation with comparatively lesser legal authority. Normally their jurisdiction is confined to the city, county or township. Performing marriages in his/her locality, is one of his various tasks. Let’s see what a justice of peace marriage is all about.
People interested in secular weddings are more likely to opt for a JP wedding. There are many situations where people tend to hire a justice of peace, same sex marriage (as church may disagree with it morally), marrying for the second time and desire to keep it simple or elopement weddings, are a few common reasons behind a JP wedding.
The facility of a JP wedding is not available in each and every state of US. There are some states that have simply excluded a justice of peace position. But states like Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont are freely utilizing this facility.
A traditional church wedding officiant is bound to follow the laws and rules defined by that particular church. So the individuals who follow that specific church, would go for the religion-based wedding officiated by the church minister.
A justice of peace wedding is basically a civil marriage, officiated by a court officer (also known as magistrate, solicitor general, district judge or squire), and it’s quite limited in terms of location and schedule. Couples who want nothing but a simple marriage certificate, are more likely to look for this option.
A JP wedding is simpler and shorter in comparison to a traditional church wedding. Unlike traditional weddings, a JP wedding has very short guest list, no bridal party, no extra bucks are spent on the wedding accessories etc. After setting the date and applying for a wedding license, all that can be expected is a short and sweet civil ceremony (mostly in a courthouse) in the presence of a few closely related people. As the wedding vows are done, the couple simply leaves for their place.
Though a simple wedding with a less number of guests, especially if it’s being held in a courthouse (with hardly a space for 10), try your best to send in invitations, whether on phone call or an Email, whatever suits you.
Justice of peace wedding doesn’t mean to dress simply. It’s your big day. Get the best dress for it. Just like the ones in traditional weddings.
No bride is complete without a bridal bouquet. Though a simple wedding, but do not think of skipping a bouquet. Just get it! The one that you always wanted!
We would highly recommend you to hire a professionally-equipped wedding photographer to store the sweet memories of your day.
Assign the duty of some reliable person from family or friend to be at the venue before time to welcome the guests (if invited).
After performing a simple justice of peace wedding, you should arrange a cool reception party at your place or at a friend’s. You can call, all who were not invited earlier.
Just like the traditional weddings, you can get wedding registry for wedding gifts. Though you have not invited all of them, but there might be some surprise gifts for you.
End your simple wedding splendidly and ride out in style. Get the services from some wedding rental rides and leave the venue in horse carriage or limo etc. to the place, selected for your first night as newly-weds.
In civil marriages, traditional vows are quite rare. Some couples choose to have some traditional lines added to their vows. It would be like; ‘I, William Russel, in the presence of dear guests, take you Mariah, as my lawfully wedded wife. From this day to all the years to come, for good, for bad, in sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, until the time death do us part.’
In justice of peace wedding, a couple often makes its own vows to recite, in its own way. Sometimes in the form of a poem, or written romantically to declare their pure feelings of love for each other. It could be like; ‘I am so blessed to have someone as special and precious as you, Mariah, as my wife. Here we are to make a life-long commitment to love, support and respect each other throughout the life.’
As the couple exchanges the ring, JP would ask the couple to hold each other’s hands and inquires them individually about their willingness to get married. And then he officially declares them as husband and wife. In the words like; ‘By joining hands here, you are showing your consent, for spending the rest of the life as husband and wife. By the authority that I hold and under the law of the state (whatever), I declare you as husband and wife.’
Not every JP offers the same services and costs. Sometimes they have different criteria for charging for the services. Before you finalize one for your wedding, there are few things that you should clarify with the JP.
Ask him whether he would charge something extra for the very initial meeting. And also finalize the overall charges as the charges may vary.
The cost of hiring a JP varies according to the states. A simple civil ceremony in JP’s locality may start from $50 to $100. And if it’s not his home community, he may include travel charges, making it range from $150 to $350 approximately. (The cost given here is what is commonly observed and not a guaranteed price).
Each JP will have his/her own limits. You must discuss and share your type of event. If you want to customize your event in any special way like music, dancing etc., inform him earlier. If his reply is in affirmative, he will surely charge you extra for it.
Ask him whether he will be available for wedding rehearsals or not.
If you find the suitable officiant, pay him deposit to lock in his services.