Beach Wedding Officiating
As an evangelical church minister, I have officiated 5000+ beach weddings and vow renewals along Gulf Coast Alabama, Mississippi, Northwest Florida, and in 2010 was featured on ABC Good Morning America, Fox News, and the Christian Television Network.
In that year I officiated a Valentines Day mass wedding vow renewal at Lulu’s at Homeport restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Guinness Book of World Records people were on hand as we were attempting to break a world record and we would have if the Ohio University Alumni Association didn’t try the same thing on the same day.
We ended up with close to 600 couples, but little did we know that on that same day, Valentine Day 2010, on the Ohio University campus 1200 alumni couples successfully won the prize as the largest mass vow renewal ceremony.
At one time I also owned a wedding a chapel in Mobile, Alabama, so between the chapel and the beaches I would officiate as much as 300+ ceremonies a year. If you are interested, you can read unsolicited reviews at the Bridal Review page.
On Officiating Today…
I am no longer accepting officiating invitations because I’ve gone back to full-time hospital chaplaincy and my work schedule varies greatly week to week as we cover in-house 24 hours 7 days a week. I am also sorry to say that I have no other ministers to refer you to, since the ones I once referred couples to have all retired or moved on to other assignments.
Changes in Alabama Law…
A marriage ceremony and an ordained minister is no longer required for an Alabama marriage. The new Alabama laws have made getting married more like other Western countries in that there are now two distinct aspects that are not dependent on the other, as were the old law. Here is a brief look at those…
1) CIVIL/RECORDED – an affidavit form that must be recorded at the county courthouse. This is the only state requirement for a marriage to be recognized and legal in Alabama. The couple sign an affidavit form before an Alabama Notary testifying that deem themselves married.
2) FAMILY/RELIGIOUS – a ceremony performed with or without an ordained minister, conducted for the family and/or religious reasons. The ceremony is no longer an Alabama State requirement for a bride and groom to be considered legally married.
In the past, an Alabama Marriage License was purchased to present to an ordained minister, a judge, or certain government figures to officiate a ceremony and sign the license, which was then returned to courthouse to be recorded.
Marriage laws in Mississippi and Florida have not changed and continue in this way. You can read more about the Alabama laws and my further explanation at the What Changed for Getting Married in Alabama? post.
Friends or Family Officiants…
The new marriage laws have completely removed the ceremony from the Alabama State requirement and that means that having a friend or family member officiate a wedding ceremony is possible without trying to get someone ordained online or seeking a minister’s consent to allow another to participate.
If you are planning your own beach ceremony or have been asked to officiate a friend’s wedding, consider my book Simple Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide. It will help you plan the ceremony step-by-step, including the vows.
Here is the Table of Contents: Part I — The Ceremony 1) Six Parts to Plan; 2) Presentation of the Bride; 3) Ceremony Introduction; 4) Exchange of Vows; 5) Exchange of Rings; 6) Special Ceremony Feature; 7)Pronouncement of Marriage; Part II — The Vows 8) Three Ways to Vow; 9) A Solemn Promise; 10) Five Parts of a Vow; 11) Creating Personal Vows; 12) Example Vows; 13) Verbs to Vow; Part III — The Supplements 14) The Grandma Story; 15) Dr. Seuss Vows; 16) The Sand Ceremony; 17) Native American Wedding Blessing; 18) Irish Wedding Blessing.