Freethinker Ceremonies

free·think·er; ˌfrēˈTHiNGkər/ noun  a person who rejects accepted opinions, especially those concerning religious belief.

Frequently asked questions

1) How much do you charge?
I have a standard fee that I ask for. Contact me and we can talk about it.

2) How many weddings have you performed?
Well over 100 at last count.

3) Do you travel to do weddings?
Yes, I do.  I live in a rural area, so if I want to do more than a couple of ceremonies a year, I have to travel. If your ceremony is within 30 miles of Brainerd, there's no travel fee. Past that 30 miles, (roughly, north of Pine River, west of Staples, east of Aitkin, or south of Little Falls) I ask for $1/mile round trip. If your ceremony is more than 75 miles from Brainerd, I'll ask you to pay for a hotel for a night - especially if you're having a rehearsal. If you really, really want me to perform your wedding in Ely, I'll go to Ely. I'll be honest, though - you'll probably be able to find someone closer to officiate your wedding, who will cost less than my travel fees, and they might be almost as good as me. If it's too far, I'm happy to help you find another officiant that is closer for you.

4) Do you charge more if we have a rehearsal?
Nope. It's included as part of the standard fee.

5) Will you perform same-sex marriages?
Of course. I strongly believe that loving, and being loved in turn, is a major part of what makes us functional human beings. Gender is plumbing, and as long as it works, I don't worry about plumbing.

6) Do you require pre-marital counseling before you perform our wedding?
No. If you would like pre-marital counseling, I'll help you to find a licensed counselor, but it's not a requirement of mine or the state of Minnesota.

7) Do you have any sample ceremonies we can look at?
Sure. I can show you a few examples of weddings that I've performed. I've got an ever-growing collection of ceremonies that we can use as reference points for your wedding ceremony.

8) Do we have to use your samples, or can we write our own ceremonies?
It's your wedding. Those samples are just starting points. They can be cut, pasted, mixed, matched, added to or deleted from at will. And I love it when my couples write their own wedding ceremonies. To be honest, five years from now, nobody - including you - is going to remember exactly what was said at your wedding. What people will remember is how the wedding made them feel. The more of yourself that you put into your wedding, the more that it will feel like you. And everybody - including you - will remember that.

9) My uncle wants to do a reading from the Bible. Is that okay?
As a Humanist, I don't believe in a personal deity, or in the Bible (or other scriptures, for that matter) as revealed truth. That said, I would never presume to impose that belief on somebody else. The Bible is one of our cultural touchstones, and it's filled with human truth, passion, and poetry. I personally might consider doing a reading from the Bible, depending on the particular passage, but if you want somebody else to do a reading, it shouldn't be a problem. There are some passages, though, that I would definitely ask you to reconsider including in your wedding. We can talk about it.

10) Can you write the ceremony for us?
That's what I'm here for. I'd be happy to. 

11) Is it okay if we have the wedding video-recorded?
Again, it's your wedding. The only thing that I ask is that the person doing the recordings please not block your guest's view. The same goes for photographers. Generally, videographers and photographers are professional enough that it's not a problem, and once the wedding starts, I usually don't even notice them.

12) Can we have our wedding outdoors?
I've performed weddings indoors and outdoors, in reception halls, hotel lobbies, performance halls, living rooms, back decks, front yards, back yards,  barns, beaches, city parks, county parks, and one national park, in weather from sunny summer days to cold, rainy autumn afternoons. I always bring sunblock for my head, just in case (bald guy problems). If you have somewhere special in mind, we can go there. 

13) Do you go to the reception afterward?
Generally, no. A reception is a time for you, your family, and your friends to celebrate, and while I'm honored to be asked, I usually don't fit into one of those categories. If you insist, though .... can I bring my wife?

14) What do we need to do to book you?
I have a contract that I use for weddings. It just spells out the details like time, location, and fees, what you can expect from me as your officiant, and vice versa. You and your betrothed look that over, sign and return it to me with a deposit, and we're in business.  You can pay the deposit with a check, cash, or with a credit card through Paypal.
For other ceremonies, give me a call and we'll work it out.

15) How long in advance do I need to book you?
I've done a wedding with four days advance notice. I prefer a little more lead time than that, but I can work with whatever schedule you're on. That said, summers - especially June - fill up quickly.

16) Can I pay the final balance with a check on the day of the wedding?
Please, no.  I've had a couple of bad experiences with checks, and I'd rather not repeat them.  I like all of my couples, but getting a bad check spoils that pretty quickly.  Final payment by check is okay up to two weeks before the wedding.  After that, cash, money order, or Paypal, please.

17) Do you do other things besides weddings?
Yes. I tend to focus on weddings, because those make up about 95% of the ceremonies that I've performed, but if you need an officiant for any of life's milestones, from baby namings to memorial services, I'm willing to talk with you about what you need. Please contact me.

A message from the American Association of Wedding Officiants;
CAUTION: Some "web based officiants" are not actually officiants residing in your area, but are really web-based agencies that seek a fee from local officiants to receive a referral. This can greatly inflate the cost of a local professional that you can contact directly via their own website.
When you call or e-mail, ask if you are dealing with a referral agency, or an Officiant that actually resides in your geographic area. Be sure you know exactly what you are dealing with. Try to select an Officiant that is performing ceremonies in your local area, and not a "clearing-house" agency that charges referral fees to your Officiant.