Planning a Simple Gulf Coast Beach Wedding?
It has been my honor to have officiated over 1700 weddings and vow renewals since my days as a local hospital chaplain in the early 2000’s, not including my 2010 15-minutes (15-seconds) of fame on ABC Good Morning America television when I officiated a world record attempt vow renewal at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores with close to 600 couples.
Today, I focus on providing Gulf Coast beach destination and local brides and grooms with a laid-back yet dignified meaningful evangelical ceremony around Mobile, Dauphin Island, Point Clear, Fairhope, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama; around Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; around Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Florida.
I am a church ordained Evangelical Christian minister, seminary trained, vocational pastor with over 30 years experience in pastoral ministry, and am now pastor of CrossHope Chapel, a nondenominational church fellowship, and am able to officiate for brides and grooms who are looking for an evangelical Christian church ordained pastor with biblical traditional marriage beliefs. You can read my church’s Wedding Officiating Policy to see if I’m right for your ministerial need.
This website represents my ministry to provide the Gulf Coast destination and resident bride and groom with evangelical clergy officiating, simple photography options, and do-it-yourself planning helps that make the marriage ceremony spiritually meaningful, conveniently affordable, and personally memorable!
If I am unavailable to officiate your wedding, I will happily direct you to other church ordained ministerial friends who may be available. If you are just beginning your research for choosing an officiant for your upcoming wedding, you may enjoy my video and blog posts: “7 Things to Ask A Wedding Officiant Before Booking” and my “Introduction to Steve Durkac Weddings” video post.
Evangelical ceremony officiating as a beach wedding minister has become an active ministry for me, realizing that finding an actual clergyman for your wedding ceremony, as a destination bride or Gulf Coast resident, can be difficult, and with recent court trends, and the need to avoid the legal risks associated with using a wrong officiant, I recognize the need for assurance and trust as the basis for choosing a minister that is right for you (and responsible enough to show up! I get frequent calls from panicking brides, because their minister was a no-show).
I officiate over 250 weddings annually along the Gulf Coast, including consultation and coordinating services that otherwise would have added additional cost to the budgets. After officiating so many weddings, both small and large, simple to extravagant, outdoor to indoor, with every possible kind of family dynamics you can imagine, I will be available to answer your planning questions, help with bridal party coordination, or even to take photos with your camera – no additional fees.
I will freely share my experience and destination planning tips with brides through my F.A.Q. menu and pages, including planning videos and beach tour videos. I believe that a casual, yet attentive, wedding can offer a more intimate ceremony with lasting memories and I want to make that planning process convenient and less stressful, for you!
Parrot Head Baptist…
In the past I have worked as a Christian comedian, mostly church banquets events, but recently my pastoral ministry schedule has limited my travel for comedy. You can read about that and how I became an actual Certified Therapeutic Laughter Leader at my Comedy page, if you’d like.
A few years ago while standing on the beach with a wedding party, I was asked by a guest what denomination I was with. Just as I answered “Baptist” a friend of the wedding party who had previously attended one of my weddings, said “He’s Parrot Head Baptist!”
If there really were such a thing as a “Parrot Head Baptist” I would probably be one, not because I like margaritas, but I do like cheeseburgers, watching for fins, and “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” is one of my all-time favorite songs.
From time to time, I’m still accused of being a “Parrot Head Baptist”, but I think it just means that I’m not a stuffy-stressed-got-to-save-the-world kind of minister (I do get stressed and I do believe the world needs saving, but I’m thankful that my Lord Jesus Christ is working on that and I want to cooperate with Him).
Theologically, I consider myself conservative, but with my hospital chaplain background you’ll find that I am comfortable with couples who are religious or non-religious, Catholic or Pentecostal, country redneck or stuffy white-collar executives or even crazy Cajuns (yes, I have helped populate the LSU fan base). My ceremonies are always non-denominational, but never non-religious because I will always include a brief prayer of blessing upon the couple. If you do object to prayer I can give you some tips on finding a non-religious officiant. You can view a video at my Ceremony Overview page where I discuss the general flow
As you may know, most pastors require you to be a member of their church or make 12 trips to their office to talk about your ex-spouses complaints, problems with your past, issues with communication, bla, bla, bla,…but I’m guessing you’re not looking to get married by the Pope or seeking sainthood status before your honeymoon.
You probably just want the dignity of an ordained Christian minister to add an authentic touch to the moment, while being meaningful and respectful to your day, with a dash of humor to ease some stress without taking away from the solemn experience!
I have been featured on radio programs, magazines, and on several national television programs, including Fox News’ Hannity’s America, Christian Television Network’s Gulf Coast Up Close, and a special Valentine Day Event feature on ABC’s Good Morning America when I officiated a 450 couple vow renewal ceremony, hosted by Lucy Buffett, Jimmy Buffett’s sister, at Lulu’s Restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama. You can see a clip at my Video page.
Simple & Meaningful…
What you see here, is what you get. No pretending religiosity or uptight attitude. I have had photographers tell me they enjoy it when their brides have me officiating, because my ceremony flows smoothly and my experience makes it easy to deliver a simple yet meaningful wedding, while working with last minute adaptations.
I’ve officiated weddings with budgets that have ranged from $50 to $50,000. I’ve had them at restaurants, parking lots, churches, barns, bars, dance clubs, hotels, homes, Walmart’s, McDonalds, truck stops, interstate rest areas, city parks, the beach, a small island, and even on the U.S.S. Alabama battleship (I’ve turned down underwater scuba and deep sea fishing trip weddings).
I’m very comfortable officiating for various church backgrounds, too. I pastor a nontraditional Baptist church and served for several years as a Hospital Chaplain. I also have a diverse personal background, I grew-up Catholic, and become Protestant, after a miracle conversion experience (personal testimony) and have served in ministry as an ordained minister and pastor with Adventist churches, Nondenominational Evangelical churches, and have been with Southern Baptist since 2000,
It was while working as a hospital chaplain that I began to receive requests to officiate weddings for couples coming to the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. I had to put up this web site to help curtail the phone calls that were interrupting my patient visits! While my talent and background as a Christian comedian should assure you of my ability to work last minute changes and adaptations, my background, education, and experience as a local church pastor and hospital chaplain assures you of my commitment to a professionalism you count-on.
Photography & Planning…
My family has been involved with helping do-it-yourself brides through offering no cost and affordable simple digital photography options since 2008, and have become one of the most popular wedding photography services for the DIY destination brides along the Gulf Coast.
If you visit our Photography page you’ll be able to learn about some no-cost photography and affordable keepsake photography options for only $100 and $150.
The fee for my services is for my time, getting in my schedule, and receiving assurance that I will certainly be there to make your wedding ceremony happen – legally and lovingly! The little extra bonus that you get for giving me the honor of officiating is planning assistance and future pastoral care availability.
I am the author of the “Simple Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide” and “Five Steps to Writing Memorable Wedding Vows” and I will gladly add or customize your ceremony, although most couples opt for my Traditional Vows & Ceremony, which is not too long, not a Baptist revival nor a Roman Catholic mass, it’s a nice blend of spiritual and romantic, but not an over-kill on either.
I will come to your location of choice, rather than asking you to come to my spot on the beach, I’ll go to where it is convenient for you – your home, your condo, hotel, beach house, public beach where there is parking.
Usually the best spot on the beach is just out back at the condo or hotel where you are staying. I will also tell you that I don’t mind if you want to wait until you get down to coast and drive up and down the boulevard and even let me know the day of where to meet you.
Everyone on the beach respects a wedding and if you are down at a busy time, you’ll hear a loud applause when the groom kisses the bride. If it is a rainy day, which is not that often and usually passes quickly, but if it is a rare bad rain day, there are a few public gazebos where I’ve done a few weddings, before.
Questions & Answers…
At the F.A.Q. page you’ll answers to questions like fees, marriage license, etc.. I do not require a deposit, but instead, if you have a change of plans after you book me, all I ask is that you let me know it’s canceled so I can help another bride or spend time with my family, and avoid the travel to your booked location. I offer, but do not require premarital counseling, and I do not require any specific church or faith affiliation, nor do I care to see skeletons from your closet or explore past relationship issues. I am happy to help you start right again, regardless of how many agains, with an evangelical clergyman who will be here for you in the future.
I have no objections to officiating for weddings or vow renewals for couples of mixed-denominations, mixed-race, or mixed-minds, as long as there is no conflicts with my personal biblical convictions regarding God’s work of creation as defining marriage as one-man and one-women. I am an Evangelical Christian minister subject to biblical and church authority and you can read more about that at my About page. I hate to have to reiterate this point, but you read the news.
After you surf around, read some bridal testimonials, see my officiating fees, view some videos, and feel comfortable with the prospect of me officiating your wedding, please visit my Check Availability? page.
If I am available and can officiate your wedding, I will ask you to go to my Book Me! page. After you check my availability and fill-out the booking form, we will be on a countdown to your wedding day and you’ll be able to get my planning assistance as much as you’d like or need. If I am unavailable, I will be happy to give you the name of another clergyman or officiant that is available or better suited for your situation. If you have any questions please contact me!