Help my little sister get married in a non-redneck way.
October 17, 2006 5:20 PM   Subscribe

My sister is having trouble finding someone to marry her and her fiance in the Gastonia/Charlotte, North Carolina area. Help! See extended explanation.

My sister and her boyfriend want to be married. However due to a lack of funds and the fact that neither are particularly religious, they don't want a big formal church wedding. My sister and I are originally from NY, and up there all you'd have to do is call up a Justice of the Peace, give them a $100 and they'd come to your house or other preferred location and marry you, easy peasy. But apparently, in the great state of NC, it doesn't work that way. The only options we've been able to locate are to be married by a member of the clergy in a church or to physically go to the courthouse and be married by a magistrate who's sitting on the other side of a glass window. Can we say tacky and redneck?

My sister would like to be married at my mother's home with the reception to follow, so she doesn't need a location, just a person who can perform a legal marriage in the state of North Carolina who'd be willing to come to my mother's house and perform the ceremony for a reasonable fee. How do we go about finding something like that? We've looked through the yellow pages to no avail. As I said, the couple isn't religious, but they wouldn't necessarily object to an ordained minister as long as the person would marry them at my mother's house rather than a church, or didn't require any kooky premarital indoctrination or that they attend church or anything like that.

Please, any ideas are welcome as we're just about totally stumped.
posted by katyggls to Grab Bag (15 answers total)
Why not have a ceremony at home officiated by a close friend or respected relative followed by (or preceeded by) a quick trip to the magistrate? Does it matter that the state doesn't recognize the ceremony, so long as they can get official recognition afterwards?
posted by mr_roboto at 5:27 PM on October 17, 2006

Part of me wants to respond as we North Carolinians are tempted to do when a Yankee comes to our state and bitches about how much better things are up north and calls us tacky rednecks just because we do things differently here. Part of me wants to respond by telling your sister to go to New York to get married.

But the better part of me wants to respond by saying that, in my experience, it is possible to find a Magistrate who will perform a ceremony some place other than the Courthouse; I've had friends who've done it, although that was many years ago. mr roboto beat me to the punch, so I second his suggestion. My sister did exactly that--got the legalities done with the Magistrate at the Courthouse and had a second ceremony of her own devising at home for all of her friends and family. Finally, your sister may want to check out the Asheville chapter of the Society for Ethical Culture--their officials do travel to do wedding ceremonies outside of churches and Asheville is, I think, the closest SEC branch to Charlotte/Gastonia. I was married outside of a church by an SEC official.

Best of luck to you and your sister.
posted by pasici at 5:56 PM on October 17, 2006

Here's a list of ministers in the Universal Life Church in North Carolina. Since being listed is optional, I'm guessing you'll find that most of them would be happy to perform a marriage for a reasonable fee.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:03 PM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: I just googled "officiant charlotte north carolina" and came up with this, among others. You might also try Although these officiants are mostly religious, they say they're accustomed to dealing with people of all faiths or lack thereof, and will come to wherever you want them.
posted by katemonster at 6:03 PM on October 17, 2006

BTW, Universal Life Church is one of those "churches" where basically anyone can be ordained, largely in order to officiate weddings (I'm pretty sure it's the biggest of such "churches").
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:05 PM on October 17, 2006

The ULC is totally the way to go. Anyone can register inside of five minutes - they should just ask a trusted mutual friend to do this. I've officiated two weddings as a ULC "minister," and they were both hassle-free.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:05 PM on October 17, 2006

ULC ordinations don't work in all states. Based on a cursory look at the web, it looks like NC allows any ordained minister to officiate -- but it's worth double-checking with the county clerk in the town where they will be married.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:42 PM on October 17, 2006

I am thirding the ULM. I went to a ceremony where one of the friends of the groom got ordained on the internet and was legally able to marry them. His ceremony, because it was from a lifelong friend and from the heart was better than any Priest, Rabbi or magistrate could ever pull off. Get your marraige license and have the ceremony whereever you want.

The reasonable fee paid this person was the cost of ordaination (is that a word? getting ordained?).
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:54 PM on October 17, 2006

The ULC is specifically not recognized in North Carolina for performing weddings.

I'd recommend having someone perform the celebratory ceremony to make it official in the eyes of you and your family, then stopping by the courthouse later to make it official in the eyes of your state (either in NC, bulletproof glass and all, or in another state with a lower tacky factor).

Or, spend 24-48 hours in Vegas on the way to the honeymoon. The friends and family celebration is really what it's all about... the piece of paper is really just a legal formality (albeit a necessary one).
posted by toxic at 7:07 PM on October 17, 2006

check your classified ads in shopper type newspapers ... there is usually someone who does weddings for a reasonable fee outside a church environment ... that's what i did in michigan
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on October 17, 2006

Could you live with a Unitarian minister? It's a pretty diverse religion, so some ministers are going to be into god and stuff, but lots of Unitarians are atheistic or just vaguely spiritual.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:25 PM on October 17, 2006

Perhaps you'd be interested in hiring a Celebrant. My wife and I did, and the wedding was great.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:11 AM on October 18, 2006

Seconding the Society for Ethical Culture. I grew up going to one and their adjunct leaders are typically great and perform all varieties of weddings and committment ceremonies. You can look at the American Ethical Union for information on the national movement. But, the national movement isn't all that well organized. Ethical culture was started in Manhattan by Felix Adler and the first building/church is still on W. 64th Street right by central park. The North Carolina Society is here. I think there is an informal group in Asheville as well.
posted by sulaine at 7:31 AM on October 18, 2006

I was married by a Unitarian minister outdoors, by a lake, with no church in sight. The only time god was mentioned the whole day was by my Catholic mother.

Religious folks were happy because she was a "woman of the cloth." I was happy because God wasn't part of the ceremony.

Look into the UU church. It's like church but without God, or something. Only potlucks. It's awesome.
posted by bondcliff at 12:19 PM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: pasici: "Part of me wants to respond as we North Carolinians are tempted to do when a Yankee comes to our state and bitches about how much better things are up north and calls us tacky rednecks just because we do things differently here. "

I never called North Carolignians tacky rednecks. I implied that the idea of standing in front of a glass window was tacky and redneck. Get over yourself.
posted by katyggls at 4:36 PM on October 18, 2006

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