Rev. Steve Durkac Beach Weddings and Vow Renewals Officiant at Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Mississippi, Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Alabama, Perdido Key, Pensacola, Florida Fri, 10 Jan 2020 01:32:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 94765740 When is Sunset? Fri, 10 Jan 2020 01:32:50 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Sunset times are usually important for your outdoor and beach weddings, especially when it comes to photography. There are two things to remember when planning a sunset wedding…

1) The rate at which the sun will drop: During the Spring and Fall months, like April and October, the sun will actually appear to drop quicker than during the summer months. So when the sunrise/sunset calendar says 7:59 PM it mean that at 8:02 PM the sun will be gone. I have timed the drop of the sun from anywhere between 4 minutes to 12 minutes of “usable” sun light after the sunset time.

2) Photography is something to consider and I suggest talking with your photographer on this, too. If you figure a typical wedding ceremony of about 12 – 15 minutes, and figure in at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes for your after photo-shots, it’s is usually wise to start anywhere between 1 hour to 45 minutes ahead of sunset.

Here are the links to a sunrise/sunset site to help with your planning:

Where at Beach? Fri, 10 Jan 2020 01:31:06 +0000 Continue reading →]]> I am sometimes asked “Where at the beach is the best place to have the wedding?”

The answer to that depends on if you are staying at a condo or other lodging along the beach and if you’re asking about the Alabama, Mississippi, or NW Florida beach. Usually, the best spot is right where you are lodging because it is easiest to use the beach area out behind your condo/hotel/house.

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.

Officiating Fee? Thu, 14 Nov 2019 21:30:27 +0000 Continue reading →]]> I do not take a salary from my small church so when you pay me an officiating fee to officiate your wedding or vow renewal or Covenant Marriage Ceremony you help keep me active in ministry.



Mississippi Gulf Coast to Mobile Bay — $100 weekdays  $150 weekends

Including Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile County, Mobile, Dauphin Island. Church Chapel in West Mobile officiating fee is $50 [learn more]. Hattiesburg & Central Mississippi officiating fee is $150 [learn more]


Baldwin County to Navarre Beach — $100 weekdays  $150 weekends

Includes what’s known as the Eastern Shore, Daphne, Fairhope, Point Clear, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Perdido Keys, Florida and Pensacola Beach, Florida, Navarre Beach and Santa Rosa Island.


Northwest Florida — $125 weekdays  $175 weekends

Includes what’s known as the Emerald Coast beaches from Fort Walton Beach to Destin to Miramar Beach. My officiating fee is higher for this area because it is a 2.5 hour drive from my home to Fort Walton-Destin.



Miscellaneous Considerations….

*Payment – The officiating fee can be paid by cash, check, or credit card. If you prefer to use a credit card I have a PayPal account at the Online Payment page.

*Weekday/Weekend – The weekday officiating fee is Monday through Friday morning. The weekend officiating fee is from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening.

*Hardship – From time to time couples in financial hardship ask about my availability for a fee they can afford, and sometimes that works for me so don’t feel bad about asking. Just don’t do as one couple did several years ago who asked if I could officiate for a very low fee and when I arrived I found a large gathering at a large beach house with an expensive professional photographer I knew and to this day have not received that fee.

*West Mobile Chapel – The officiating fee for a ceremony at our church Chapel location is only $50 for simple wedding ceremonies and only a handful of family and guests.

*Sunrise/Sunset – There is no extra cost to have me officiate your sunset or sunrise ceremony, but if you are interested, just ask if I am available and you can check times at this link: Sunrise/Sunset Calendar.

*Deposit & Honorariums – Advanced deposit is not required, payment at time of wedding is fine, base fee and honorarium given contributes to my pastoral ministry because I do not receive a salary from my small church.

* License Signing/Certificate – For all areas, my base fee includes signing and filing the marriage license, taking any photos that you may want using your camera/phone, and if it’s a vow renewal I will bring a frame-able keepsake Certificate of Vow Renewal. If it is an Alabama Covenant Marriage Ceremony I will bring Marriage Covenant Certificate.



Book Process…

If you would like to ask me about officiating your wedding or vow renewal, please visit the Check Availability page and fill-out the form there that gives me the necessary information I need to determine my availability. If you do have any questions, please ask me!

Covenant Marriage Ceremony? Tue, 05 Nov 2019 19:46:24 +0000 Continue reading →]]> The Covenant Marriage Ceremony is a lot like a Vow Renewal ceremony in that it is all “in the eyes of God” rather than in the eyes of the state. With recent changes in state marriage laws I am now happy to offer a Covenant Marriage Ceremony for Christian brides and grooms who meet the requirements as listed below.

The Covenant Marriage Ceremony is a “church” ceremony not a “civil” ceremony, it is a ceremony of religious marriage commitment not a ceremony of government marriage recognition.

The Covenant Marriage Ceremony is not recognized for legal marriage rights in federal government matters, (like court divorce process or other legal aspects), but with an Alabama notary affidavit marriage form or a Power of Attorney assignment or a Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Living Will), a couple can cover their collective assets and arrangements similarly. Of course, please seek legal advice on handling your affairs, because I am not a lawyer and am just sharing my personal perspective.

The Covenant Marriage Ceremony can be handled by the couple in a similar manner in which “Common Law” married couples were required to — they were “required to present themselves as married.” Most states have eliminated common law marriages since the advent of the internet and ease of access to state county courthouses.

Usually, the official state certificate of marriage is only used at time of death if insurance policies or if power of attorney forms have not been taken care of in advance.

If you visit the Married in Alabama page you will see that I will provide a Covenant of Marriage certificate, should you want some type of proof of marriage.


Do It Yourself Photo Edits? Tue, 08 Oct 2019 15:30:49 +0000 Continue reading →]]> If you need some edits like cropping, rotating, and brightness adjustments on the photos either I took or my daughter took, please contact me.

We include all photos taken, both the edited and the unedited, on the USB that we provide for you. When you get your USB you will be able to see the cropped and original photo, you’ll see the turned photo, and the brightness adjusted difference in the photo.

Brightness adjustments are limited. The lighting at the beach is the sun, so if your wedding starts late your photos will appear that way. Adjusting brightness cannot bring the sun back out, but it can lighten the scene somewhat. When we adjust the brightness there is a fine line that if crossed can make your photo look like an Instagram ghost version.

If you are looking for an easy to use photo editor for your beach wedding pics, I recommend Pic Monkey. It will help you straighten shorelines, lighten up things, and add borders. Check it out at

Pic Monkey offers both a free use plan and a paid plan, but I’ve been using the $35 annual paid plan for so long I can’t remember what the difference is between them. I should also add that I do own Photoshop, but I haven’t used it since I discovered Pic Monkey.

Visit the Photography page to learn more.


Marriage License Requirement & Information? Sun, 22 Sep 2019 13:17:32 +0000 Continue reading →]]> You will need a marriage license from the state in which you plan to get married in, before I can officiate your wedding. The marriage license gives me the legal authority to officiate and make your union legal.

NEW IN 2018: Some states like Texas, and some counties in Tennessee and Arkansas have begun issuing marriage licenses to their citizens that are valid for solemnizing (legal term for ceremony officiating) within any state in the United States. So it may be worth checking with your home county about if their marriage license is now valid down here on the coast.    

In a nutshell, you can get your marriage license at any county courthouse from within the state you are getting married at. You’ll pay around $70.00 in Alabama, $25 in Mississippi, and in Florida about $95, you’ll need to show a photo ID and your proof of social security number, depending on the state the marriage license is good for 30 days from the date of purchase, it is good for a minister to officiate immediately, no witnesses are required, but check with the county courthouse to be certain on these things.

(In the fall of 2019 Alabama become an “Affidavit Marriage” state and will no longer be using a marriage license. I explain how to get married in Alabama here. I will be offering Alabama Covenant Marriage Ceremonies when that new marriage law goes into effect.)


Gulf Coast Counties & Marriage License Information…






Asked to Officiate a Friend’s Ceremony? Fri, 13 Sep 2019 22:23:26 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Over the years I have officiated weddings along side a family member of friend whom the couple wanted involved in the ceremony, but who couldn’t officiate because of not being church ordained.

Most of these individuals have been a godly family member or a friend who was active in their Christian church or was in the process of going to seminary. In all these weddings they were someone who the bride and groom recognized as having a quality worthy to officiate their ceremony.

Well, now with the new marriage law in Alabama, a ceremony is no longer associated with the state requirement and is now completely at the dictate of the church or a chosen officiate.

If you have been asked to officiate a friend or family member’s wedding ceremony I would suggest using my ceremony script found in my book Covenant Marriage Ceremony.

You can read about it here and there is space available to add to it by writing on the pages or simply slipping a piece of paper in with whatever you wish to include.

In my book list you will also find Simple Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide which will walk you through the nuts and bolts of the ceremony, and includes helps for writing your own vows.

Let me also add that if you are going to purchase one or both of these books, I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about officiating the ceremony. Please contact me and I will be happy to help.




What Changed for Getting Married in Alabama? Fri, 13 Sep 2019 00:57:14 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Getting married in the state of Alabama is now a little different than it use to be. The traditional marriage license has been replaced in Alabama by an affidavit document system, which means a couple will need to receive paperwork from any Alabama county courthouse, then get a Notary of Public to verify signatures, and then return that paperwork to the courthouse records division to register themselves as legally married.

The proper paperwork is available at some Alabama state courthouse websites and can be easily downloaded to print-out. Both the bride and the groom will need to sign in front of a Notary of Public along with showing proper identification. The good news is that the bride and groom do not have to get notarized at the same time. However, the latest date between the two notarized signatures will become the official date of marriage.


No Ceremony, But…

A marriage ceremony will no longer be a requirement in order for a marriage to be recognized as legally binding. However, I will be offering a Covenant Marriage Ceremony, registered with CrossHope Chapel church, so a bride and groom can still have an important benchmark and basis of commitment through an exchange of vows in the eyes of God.

The one negative about this no ceremony process is that it shorts the groom from what is typically an important and serious moment of commitment.

Here’s what I mean, the groom will like the fact that no ceremony is required so lady’s you will likely find it easier to get your boyfriend to man up and sign the Affidavit, but the wedding ceremony is the one feature that causes a guy to take the marriage commitment seriously.

I’ve officiated over 4000 weddings and have helped hundreds of those brides go through the planning and preparation for their wedding and without exception, the groom is the one who most nervous and most likely to tear up.

Brides are stressed during the whole countdown and planning phase but when they are standing there in front of me, they realize it came together as planned and they are relaxed.

Grooms, on the other hand, put the date in their calendar and forgot about it until they realized it was time to meet the minister and get married. For the groom, the ceremony is like the first invoice coming due on a new car that was financed with no payment for three months.

The ceremony is real to the groom. And what most people don’t realize is that a man doesn’t want to fail at what he commits to, so it is a good thing that a groom takes a ceremony seriously.


Religious vs Civil Ceremony…

Traditionally, with a required Marriage License, an ordained minister like myself provides both the duel “Religious Wedding Ceremony” and the “Civil Wedding Ceremony” at the same time.

The difference for the bride and groom will be that I will no longer say “By the powers vested in me by the State of Alabama” because the affidavit part at the courthouse will be the civil part or legal state part. I will likely say something to the effect of “By the powers vested in me as an ordained minister and pastor of a church congregation, I hereby present you in the eyes of God, as husband and wife.”

The Covenant Marriage Ceremony is a lot like a Vow Renewal ceremony in that it is all “in the eyes of God” rather than in the eyes of the state. It may not be recognized for marriage rights in federal government matters without the affidavit, but when it comes to financial and healthcare matters, a Power of Attorney assignment or a Medical Power of Attorney (sometimes called a Living Will) can give the same rights as an official state legal marriage affidavit.


Covenant Marriage Ceremony…

The requirements for me to officiate a Covenant Marriage Ceremony will be the same, for couples who comply with CrossHope Chapel’s Position on Marriage & Sexuality and Wedding Officiating Policy, are not currently married to someone else in any state, or not waiting for a divorce to go into effect (required waiting periods per state), and comply with the State of Alabama affidavit requirements:

“The affiant is at least 18 years of age; or the affiant is at least 16 and under 18 years of age and has the consent of a parent or guardian. The affiant is legally competent to enter into a marriage. The parties are not related by blood or adoption such that the marriage would violate Section 13A-13—3, Code of Alabama 1975. The affiant is entering into the marriage voluntarily and of his or her own free will and not under duress or undue influence.”

It is important to know that a Covenant Marriage Ceremony is only a Christian religious ceremony that is not recognized by the state or federal institutions for the purposes of claiming or extending any marriage rights such as tax credit, judicial revocation and compensation, etc., unless the bride and groom file the marriage affidavit at the Alabama courthouse.

I will issue the bride and groom a Covenant of Marriage certificate to be signed by the couple, myself, and a witness (if available but not required). The wording on the certificate is…

Believing that God in His wisdom as Creator has established marriage as a Christian relationship between one man and one women, as a sacred lifelong commitment of mutual love and respect, we voluntarily and in good faith, enter into this covenant for the fulfillment of our vows, reliance on the grace of God, and by solemn pledge in the eyes of God, our family, our friends, and each other on this, the _________ day of the month of ________________________ in the year __________________ at ______________________________________________________________________.


Questions or Comments

Please contact me if you have any questions or visit the Mobile County Courthouse or the Baldwin County Courthouse website for additional information. The actual law can be viewed here on the Alabama Secretary of State website.


Wedding Ceremony YouTube Videos? Tue, 10 Sep 2019 13:10:38 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Here are a few videos available on my YouTube channel. If you visit there you’ll find a few more, including several that our more current. If you click the “More Information” link on the top right hand corner of the video it will give you an overview of the clip.


Want to Write Your Wedding Vows? Sun, 08 Sep 2019 13:00:44 +0000 Continue reading →]]> Simple Wedding Planning Guide by Steve DurkacOn this page, I’ve posted a portion from my book “Simple Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide” on 3 ways to do your vows. You can use these to adapt, customize, or to get you thinking about creating your own. Also, as you scroll down you’ll find a list of verbs you can use to help you in your vow writing exercise. If you have any questions in your process I will be happy to help! Just contact me.


Reciting Vows Sample:

“I, (bride/groom), do take you, (bride/groom), to be my (husband/wife), my friend, my lover, my soul-mate, my life partner.

I look forward to a marriage relationship of truest friendship, openness, and unconditional love. I look forward to a home made of happiness, a family made of love, and marriage made of trust.

I pledge my heart and will, to love you in good times and bad, to respect you in success and failure, to be faithfully yours in health and illness, to be confident in our marriage in plenty or in want; from this day forward, so long as I live.”


Reading Vows Sample: 

“Dear (bride/groom), when we first met, I knew in my heart of hearts that this day would arrive, that together we would vow our love, our mind, our souls in holy matrimony.

My vision for life with you consists of open honesty, loving acceptance, and a commitment to respect the beauty of your mind and body.

I will always be there for you, when you hurt, in sorrow, or struggling with life; I will always face my heart and my mind toward you alone; to you (bride/groom), you will forever be the one true love of my life, as long as life’s blood and breath is mine.”


Responding Vows Sample:

“Do you __________, take __________, to be your (wife/husband), your companion in marriage,

to be loved and to love, to share in mutual respect, to learn, to live, to laugh and to grow old together;

Do you promise to stand with ___________  in sickness or health, to be hand in hand with him/her in wealth or want, to stay arm in arm with him/her in affection and fidelity, until death causes you to part?”



Verbs for Vows

Here is a list of expressive words that are ideal for romanticizing your own vows. Along with these words, I added a brief phrase to inspire your thoughts as to how it might be used!

If you and your fiance’ are considering writing separate vows, groom vows and bride vows, you could each go through the list and circle the words that mean most to you and than have the other use it in their vows.

Admire — to admire you
Advance — advance our relationship
Affirm — to affirm you
Alleviate — to alleviate pain
Amplify — amplify my love for you
Appreciate — I appreciate you
Beautiful — you are beautiful
Believe — to believe in you
Brighten — you brighten my life
Build — to build a life of
Choose — to choose to
Communicate — to communicate
Complete — you complete me
Compliment — to compliment you
Connect — to connect with you
Considerate — to be considerate
Create — to create, with you
Defend — to always defend
Delight — I delight in you
Demonstrate — to demonstrate our love
Discover — to discover each other
Dream — you are the dream of my youth
Drive — you drive me toward
Embrace — embrace your love
Encourage — encourage you to
Engage — engage your heart and soul
Enhance — enhance my life
Enlighten — you enlighten my life
Excite — you excite me
Enthuse — you enthuse me
Explore — to explore together
Express — to express my love
Forgive — to forgive and grow
Foster — foster an environment of
Friendly — to be friendly in spirit
Gentle — to be gentle
Give — to give and receive
Grateful — to be grateful
Grow — to grow in our friendship
Heal — to heal when you hurt
Help — to help you
Hold — to hold you
Hope — to hope beyond hope
Illuminate — illuminate my desires
Inspire — to inspire you
Involve — involve you in my life
Keep — to keep you and to hold you
Kind — to be kind
Laugh — to laugh together
Lead — to lead our home in
Live — to live together
Love — I love you
Loyal — to be loyal
Make — to make our home
Manifest — to manifest a spirit of
Mature — mature together
Measure — keep no measure of wrongs
Model — model to our children
Motivate — motivate each other
Nurture — to nurture you
Open — to be open and honest
Play — to play together
Praise — to praise you
Pretty — you are very pretty
Progress — to aim for progress
Promise — I promise to you alone
Provide — to provide you
Pure — you are pure to me
Purpose — It is my purpose to
Pursue — to pursue our well-being
Receive — to receive your love
Reclaim — to reclaim our love
Relate — to seek to relate to you
Release — to release you from anger
Rely — to rely on your judgment
Remember — to remember your
Respect — to respect you
Return — to return your love
Sacrifice — to sacrifice for you
Satisfy — to satisfy your needs
Share — to share together
Speak — to speak highly of you
Stand — to stand by your side
Success — to join you in success
Support — to support you in want
Surrender — to surrender my heart
Sustain — to sustain our love
Take — I take you to be my
Team — as a team
Touch — to touch your life with
Understand — to seek to understand
Validate — you validate me
Value — I value you
Verbalize — to verbalize my love
Visualize — I visualize us
Work — to work together as parents
Worship — to worship our God together
Yield — to yield to us