It is going to be a November Disney World wedding for our son, Justin and his bride to be, Lori Johnson. Lisa and I have been working as best we can to provide assistance for them even though we are 1700 miles away sweating it out in Arizona. A “destination” wedding has its challenges but for Lori – a self-proclaimed Disney nut – it has been her dream to be married near the “happiest place on earth” and so we are going to make that happen.
One of the challenges has been trying to secure not only the wedding location and hotel rooms, but also trying to navigate all the legal matters of being married in Florida. Licenses must be obtained beforehand and a person qualified to perform the wedding must also be secured. Recently a good friend of ours managed to obtain the qualifications necessary to perform a wedding ceremony for a family member and it interested me that I may be able to do the same for Justin and Lori. I have spoken at funerals and other venues but never at a wedding – I figure it can’t be too tough.
The internet is ripe with places wanting to get your money and “ordain” or “qualify” you to perform weddings. It unnerved me a little seeing the different religion affiliations associated with many of these web sites and I could never bring myself to “submit” my information. Finally I decided to check the Florida laws and found an interesting statement regarding wedding officiating. In their state statutes there is a statement regarding the qualifications. They include: a notary public, certain court officials, ordained ministers and “an elder of a church”.
Out of curiosity I contacted the county clerk offices in both Orange and Osceola Counties in Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida. It so happens that I am an ordained deacon in a southern Baptist church and I was hoping that would be enough to qualify me. Guess what? It does. The lady I spoke to actually said all I have to do is sign the page attached to their marriage license with an explanation of my ordination and the church I am associated with. If Bellevue Baptist Church has not excommunicated me yet – we should be good to go. She went on to say they never check or verify those qualifications because of the volume of marriages happening in that area. They simply don’t have time to check if the ministers are legit or not.
So – apparently anyone can perform weddings at Disney World as long as your qualifications sound legit. “Minister of Cornhole Tournament Church in Waco, TX.”; “Ordained deacon of the 1st Church of the Big Blue Nation;” and my favorite – “The High Reverend of the Barney Fife Bud Nippers” – any of those ought to do it.
I’m starting to feel the power vested in me…,
Steve and Lisa