As I may have previously mentioned, FI and I thought that when we were going to get married, we would ask someone close to us to be the officiant for the ceremony.
This was such a great idea, and we thought it would be extra special since the ceremony could be performed by someone close to us. We eventually asked my grandfather to be the officiant, and as honored as he was to have been asked, he ultimately declined. His reasons were fair, however, and I respect him to being able to tell me what an honor it would be, but that he felt it would be too emotional for him to do, and that he wasn't comfortable in expressing that emotion in front of our wedding guests. I know that it would be very emotional, and I am still grateful that we asked him.
However, his saying no, meant that we needed to find someone else to do it. We had a few people in mind, but before we asked, I decided to do some further research to find out the actual requirements for performing marriage ceremonies in Rhode Island. And wow, I am so glad that I did, because they are so strange, and nothing like what I expected.
For some people who wish to get married in Rhode Island, having a family member or friend officiate will work, but for us, it ended up not panning out.
After calling numerous State and City Departments, I was finally able to speak with someone about the Rhode Island requirements for a marriage ceremony. Apparently, there are two different types of marriage ceremonies in Rhode Island - civil and religious.
In order to have a religious marriage, the ceremony must be performed by an ordained individual. This means that the ceremony must be religious, and the officiant must fill out an additional part of the marriage certificate that deems the ceremony a religious one. In addition, the ordained individual must be available to submit the signed marriage certificate to the City Hall within 72 hours of the ceremony, which if they are not local, may be an issue since they are not open on weekends.
The civil ceremony can be performed by a family member or friend only if you propose a Solemnization of Marriage to the General Assembly, and they must pass a bill that allows for one person to marry you on a specified date only. The Solemnization must be submitted between January and June, which is the only time that the General Assembly is in session.
So, with this new information, we were stuck. We couldn't have a family member or friend marry us because the GA is not in session, and we can't have someone ordained to marry us because we didn't want a religious ceremony.
So, I started emailing every officiant I could find with a good review, and almost all of them were booked. I finally was able to contact three that were available to perform our ceremony, and interviewed them over the phone. I had a great conversation with all three, however, one just stuck out, and I knew that he would be a great match, even without having met him in person. So, we officially have an officiant for our ceremony - and we're almost 7 weeks out. I guess the timing could be worse, right?