Lacking ties to organized religion, more and more young people are asking friends or family members to perform their marriage ceremonies. “I’d say about 40 percent of the people I see use an officiant,” says Kaeli Garcia of Ann Arbor wedding planner Luna Soiree (and daughter of Observer publisher Patricia Garcia).
County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum explains that, broadly, anyone credentialed as a “religious practitioner” can officiate at a marriage. And thanks to the Internet, “ordination” has never been easier. A three-minute online application will get you credentials from the “Universal Life Church” that are accepted in most states, including Michigan.
EMU psychology student Stephanie Fox says she got ordained by ULC years ago “as a favor for some dear friends of mine” who asked her to perform their marriage ceremony. “In a way, it’s a lot more personal for those of us who don’t grow up in a specific church or area,” she says. Ann Arborite Norm Tyler also turned to ULC so he could preside at his son’s wedding in San Francisco’s Japanese Gardens. “I was thrilled,” he says.
While Universal Life is the behemoth of online ordainers, would-be officiants have many options, including the gleefully named “Church of the Latter-Day Dude” and the “Church of the SubGenius.” When a county employee asked Kestenbaum whether people ordained by SubGenius really could perform weddings, the clerk looked into it–and decided they could.