NYC-area Dopers: help find a marriage officiant

(Nope, it’s not for me.)

A dear friend of mine is getting married in NY (actually, on Long Island) on Jan. 3rd, and so far he’s having a hellish time finding someone to officiate. Apparently NY has stricter laws than some places in this department; you actually have to be a Justice of the Peace and/or an accepted marriage officiant within the rules of some organized religion. (He says a friend of his in VT found a rule whereby one can be sworn in for the day to perform a wedding, and had a friend officiate.)

The main issue is differing backgrounds (he’s Italian and was raised Catholic; she is Korean and was raised nonpracticing Buddhist). They would like the person who officiates at their wedding to have some personal connection and not just be some random person off of a state-provided list. So do any NY Dopers know how a person in NY can be authorized quickly to perform weddings? Barring that, has anyone in NY had a secular wedding service (or seen a secular wedding service performed) that was particularly moving? Or does anyone know a NY-authorized wedding officiant who is used to dealing with these messy issues of differing backgrounds? I’d think if anyplace in the country would be used to dealing with unusual bride/groom combos, NY would be it. Creative solutions are welcome.

(The bride’s sister had a similar dilemma when she got married some years ago, and apparently they just used someone off the state list; he was a rabbi, but performed a secular ceremony. However, my friend’s mother apparently is threatening to have a stroke if her son is married by a rabbi, religious ceremony or no. She is barely speaking to the fiancee as it is. Trust me, folks, this has the potential to get really ugly.)

How about getting a friend ordained in the Universal Life Church? If memory serves, a couple of morning drive DJ’s did this here in NYC a few years ago and did perform a marriage ceremony. Best of luck to your friends!

This is what we did for our wedding in New Hampshire.

You or your friends should contact the NYC City Clerk’s office to find out exactly what the NY requirements are. In New Hampshire, a “religious” officiant that is also a NH state resident does not need any paperwork whatsoever to be legal. If we had imported one from out of state, though, we would have had forms to fill out and submit.

Good luck to 'em!

From the NYS web page with information on marriage"

So if your friends are getting married out on LI, there isn’t even any need for paperwork beyond what’s needed for the Universal Life Church… sounds like a cool option to me!

The only alternative I can think of just now is asking a Unitarian minister to preside. My sister and brother-in-law had one (since bro-in-law was divorced, no Catholic church wedding), but that service did have a Christian flavor to it.

There’s this “unique” non-conformist gentlemen who marries people out of Freeport harbor on the bay

I’ve been to one of his non-denominational ceremonies in Badwin Bay & he does a good job with the ceremony. If the couple can accept the fact he looks like a cross between a glass-eyed 60’s radical & Ravi Shankar, I can get the details & fwd them 2u.

A caveat: I’m not 100% certain he does land ceremonies.

That would be pretty damn funny if I could talk them into it! Thye are both exceedingly straight-laced finance/investment banking types. My friend actually refused to stop wearing his suits when his employer went business casual, saying he wanted to “buck the trend.” (I suspect it had more to do with the fact that the suits were probably damn expensive, and he hates shopping anyway.)

Hmmmm…I wonder what his mom would do if some hippie dude married her precious only child? Would that be better or worse than a) a rabbi, or b) a Buddhist priest?

I’d be real careful about relying on a Universal Life Church “ordination” in New York.

Some states have explicitly ruled that a ULC ordination (as such) does not entitle a person to officiate at a wedding, and I believe that New York is in this group. I don’t have a cite right here, but if I get a chance I’ll look it up at work.

Well, I was right about New York. In Ranieri v. Ranieri, 146 A.D.2d 34, 539 N.Y.S.2d 382 (1989) the court held that a marriage solemnized by a minister of the Universal Life Church was void under the New York Domestic Relations Law. See also Rubino v. City of New York, 125 Misc. 2d 936, 480 N.Y.S.2d 971 (1984) (rejecting petition of Universal Life Church ministers to require city to register them as eligible to perform marriages).

(I know of no free links to those cases).

Ah, what a bummer. I guess it’s up to the funky guy in Freeport now!

Fascinating. Could you give us a sentence or two about the reasoning behind the decision?

Fascinating. Could you give us a sentence or two about the reasoning behind the decision?