FAQs 2 (mobile)

Ernest Adams, Your CT JP
(860) 543-2334

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A Brief Word about Terms

In these Pages, "town" is used to refer to one of Connecticut's 169 municipalities, whether it is officially a city or officially a town.

In order to avoid long phrases, the words "Town Clerk" as used here refers to the Registrar of Vital Statistics. In most Connecticut towns the term "Town Clerk" and "Registrar of Vital Statistics" are identical.

"Wedding Officiant"?   "Wedding Officiate"?   "Wedding Officiator"?   "Wedding Celebrant"?

You may see the term "Wedding officiate" on the Web. "Officiate" is a verb; "officiant" is a noun. A wedding officiant will officiate at a wedding ceremony.

Yes, there are some places that call a legally-authorized wedding officiant a "Wedding Officiator". Officiant is very much the preferred term.

Because it is an honor to be asked to officiate at the formal, legal celebration of your love, and it is a joy to unite you, I consider myself a wedding celebrant, not just a wedding officiant.

No matter what you call me, please call me at (860) 543-2334!

Who can perform marriages in Connecticut?
Can my sister perform part of the ceremony?
Can an attorney officiate at my wedding?
How can I get certified to perform CT weddings?
Do you perform same-sex weddings in Connecticut?
How many guests can we have at a JP wedding?
Is there a specific format for a marriage ceremony?
How is a JP wedding different?
How much does a Justice of the Peace wedding cost?
Do you charge by the number of guests?
What is a "Destination Wedding"?
Does Connecticut recognize Common Law marriage?
We decided not to get married. Do we get divorced?
Can you help us with our Prenup?
Why are flowers strewn in the bride's path?

Who can perform marriages in Connecticut?

This is an extremely important topic. Please confirm with your wedding officiant that they are legally authorized to join people in marriage in Connecticut. Authorized officiants include

If there is any doubt about your officiant being properly authorized, please consult the Town Clerk where the officiant resides. There is a Suggested Criteria Page for helping you choose an officiant. Alternative wedding celebrants, such as Justices of the Peace, usually offer you the most options of all wedding officiants.

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Can my sister perform part of the ceremony?

Absolutely! You are encouraged to have your friends and family participate in any ways that you find meaningful.

Several times I have co-officiated with a divinity school student, family friend, or other person who was not legally recognized as a Connecticut officiant.

There are a few things that must, by Connecticut law, be done by the Justice of the Peace or other legally-authorized person. The Justice of the Peace must sign your license certifying that the ceremony took place, for example. It cannot be emphasized enough: It is your day! Your happiness is my goal.

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Can an attorney officiate at my wedding?

An attorney could officiate at a wedding only if that attorney were also a Justice of the Peace or a judge.

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Can you tell me how to get certified to perform weddings in Connecticut?

Some states allow people to apply for and receive a one-day permit to perform legal marriages. Connecticut does not. Only the people listed under "Who can perform marriages in Connecticut?" can legally marry people in Connecticut.

If you would like to perform two of your friends' wedding, or you would like to have a friend perform your wedding, please contact me. You (or your friend) can conduct the social part of the ceremony and I will take care of the legal portion. The guests will not need to know. It has been my pleasure to help seminary students, aunts & uncles, brothers & sisters, and other people take a leading roll in the ceremony. Remember: It's all about you!

Getting a so-called Internet ordination will not give you the right to marry people in Connecticut! You are strongly cautioned that Connecticut has cracked down on people getting "ordained" via the Internet. Such "ordinations" are not valid in Connecticut. Marriages performed without the proper legal authority are not valid.

Basically, Justices of the Peace are appointed in presidential election years for four-year terms. JPs are appointed by the Republican or Democratic parties in their towns. Unaffiliated voters apply directly to their Town Clerks. If you live in Connecticut please contact your political Town Committee or Town Clerk for information on becoming a JP.

How to become a judge in Connecticut is far beyond my explaining. Likewise, I have no idea how one becomes a family support magistrate or state referee in Connecticut.

Do you marry gay couples?
Do you marry lesbian couples?

Yes. I am happy to marry any loving couple. There is a Gay Wedding Questions Page that answers some questions usually asked by gay couples. Many same-sex couples elope to Connecticut because they cannot yet get married in their home states. You do not have to be a Connecticut resident to get married in Connecticut.

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How many guests can you have at a Justice of the Peace wedding?
How many people should attend a Justice of the Peace wedding?

How many guests would you like to have? There is no reason to limit your number of guests! And there is no reason to have any guests, if you don't want people at your ceremony.

The only limitation on the number of guests at your wedding should be the number of people who will fit into your wedding venue.

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Is there a specific format for a JP marriage ceremony?

No. Your wedding ceremony will be as unique as you are! Together we will create your ideal wedding celebration. You are welcome to design your own wedding ceremony and write your own vows. In addition to the Vows Page, I will be happy to assist you. Neither party needs to say "obey"! Modern language typically includes the words "love", "honor", "cherish", and "respect". You can write your own alternative wedding vows, and I'd be happy to help you if you'd like help. Most couples choose to have some form of Unity Ceremony as part of their wedding ceremonies, but it certainly isn't required. There are some examples with pictures on my Unity Ceremony Page. Would you like to have friends and family take an active part? There are many ways to include them. Just give me a call at (860) 543-2334.

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How is a Justice of the Peace wedding different from a church wedding?

How is getting married by a JP different from being married by a rabbi?

In one word, flexibility. Religious leaders may require that you take classes, attend their house of worship for a specific period of time before they will marry you, promise to bring your children up in their particular religious tradition, or insist on certain wording for your ceremony.

On the other hand, I honor all people's right to choose and follow their own religious traditions. Or no belief system at all. All people, agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, and those who feel spiritual but not religious, are equally welcome.

When we meet I will ask you whether you want a ceremony that is religious, spiritual, or a purely civil ceremony. I will also ask what traditions, if any, you would like to include in your ceremony. What I will not ask you is where you go to church, when you were last in shul (or temple, or synagogue, or ...), if you have been baptized, ....

Would you like to include reading from the Bible? Calling the quarters? Breaking a wineglass? Smudging with sage? Standing under a chuppah? All traditional ceremony elements are equally welcome! We can even start new traditions.

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How much does a Connecticut Justice of the Peace wedding cost?

Connecticut law does not set the fees that Justices of the Peace may charge for their services. Because your wedding will be uniquely yours, together we will design a ceremony based on your dreams. Just as every couple is different, I don't have a one-size-fits-all ceremony with a fixed fee. Nor do I offer "packages" at different price levels. Many factors determine the fee: Travel distance, whether we have a rehearsal, time spent doing preparation, et cetera. Most couples like to meet to discuss their ceremony. There is never a fee for the initial planning meeting! Special consideration is given to military personnel who are serving our country!

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Why do wedding officiants charge based on the number of people in your wedding?

I do not set my fee by the number of people in your wedding party or the number of guests you will have.

When we talk on the telephone and meet in person I will ask you several questions in order to help you plan your wedding ceremony. The number of people in your wedding party will be one factor in us deciding together whether we will need a rehearsal. The number of guests that you plan on having will be one factor in you deciding what kind of Unity Ceremony you would like. (See the Unity Ceremony Page for some suggestions.)

In general, people with larger guest lists have more elaborate wedding ceremonies. People who elope generally have simpler ceremonies. When you and I decide on a fee, it will not change no matter how many guests you add. If you decide that you want to add Unity Ceremonies, readings, or other ceremony elements, my fee will remain the same. At the end of our initial planning meeting you will know exactly what my fee will be. There will be no surprises!

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What is a "Destination Wedding"?

A destination wedding can be one of the simplest weddings to plan, and one of the most economical! You and your spouse-to-be travel to a location that is special to you. You are joined by as many of your guests as can attend. Your wedding ceremony is held in the location you have chosen. You and your guests celebrate at your reception, then enjoy the local flavor. You can see photos from some Connecticut places for destination weddings at my Mystic Seaport Page, Mystic Aquarium Page, and Harkness Memorial State Park Page.

Dana and Jonathan came with their guests from Arkansas to have their destination wedding at The Mansion at Bald Hill in Woodstock, Connecticut. There are several other popular destination wedding sites listed on the Locations Page. Please feel free to call me at (860) 543-2334 for other suggestions!

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Does Connecticut recognize Common Law marriage?

No. There may be rare exceptions! (Another way to phrase the question would be "How long do you have to live together in Connecticut for common law rights?") For details of Connecticut Common Law rights please consult an attorney authorized to practice in Connecticut.

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We got our license, then decided not to get married. Do we need to file a divorce?

No. As long as you did not have an actual wedding, big or small, you are not legally married. In Connecticut you are not legally married until an authorized officiant pronounces you married. If 65 days have gone by since your license was issued and your license hasn't been signed by an authorized officiant and returned to the Town Clerk, then you are not legally married. For your own peace of mind, destroy your marriage license, whether it has expired or not.

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Can you help us with our Prenuptial Agreement?

Short answer: No. Longer answer: If you have a Prenuptial Agreement and would like to have your signatures on it notarized, I would be happy to notarize and seal it in my capacity as a Connecticut Notary Public. You should obtain legal and financial advice from professionals authorized to provide such services in Connecticut. I can make recommendations.

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Why are flower petals sometimes strewn in the bride's path?

Traditionally flower petals are strewn in the bride's path to ensure a happy path in married life. This cheerful task is often given to a young girl whom the couple wishes to honor by including her in the ceremony. Yes, boys can strew flowers, too! You may decide to have more than one person strewing flowers.

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Please note that I am a Connecticut Justice of the Peace. Please see the Page listing the duties of a Connecticut Justice of the Peace. I am not an attorney. I cannot give legal advice. The answers given here were derived from information publicly available, including data provided by the Vital Statistics division of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. You are encouraged to do your own research, both online and in your public library. Please check with the Town Clerk where you reside or plan to have your wedding ceremony. The people in the Town Clerk's Office want your celebration to be a success; they will help you however they can. For complex questions, or if you have any doubts about the laws, you should consult an attorney authorized to practice law in Connecticut (or your home state).

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Version 4.6 m   17 January 2011