Frequently Asked Questions

*  Now Booking 2020 Ceremonies  *
(Some 2019 Dates Still Available)

Aretha Gaskin - Celebrant & Officiant

Consultations & Bookings

What should we be aware of BEFORE booking a Consultation? +

NO HAGGLING: I'm aware that haggling with wedding industry professionals is very common, please note that my business is a no haggling zone. My prices are non-negotiable.

RESPECT: Please don’t book a consultation for my services knowing full well that my prices are outside of your budget – doing so is a waste of my time and is disrespectful to my business.

CAUTION: Your choice of Officiant is crucial and you definitely don’t want the cheapest Officiant to be a part of the most important day of your life – trust me! Here is an example of what can happen when you do.

FRIENDORS: You may be in for a disastrous ceremony if you choose a friend or family member who has never performed a ceremony before or someone who got a quickie online ordination just to officiate your wedding – VERY. BAD. IDEA.

What’s the process for booking you as our Officiant? +

Simply click on the blue consultation button throughout my website to book an initial consultation with me. This will be a conference call meeting and will run for approximately 1 hour. Once we decide that we’re a match, you will then take the necessary steps to bring me on board as your Officiant.

Please carefully review my detailed pricing page before booking a consultation.

How far in advance do we need to book you? +

Planning your wedding day should ideally start with choosing a date, followed by a venue and then the Officiant. I often see couples waiting until the last minute to hire the Officiant. I urge you not to do this as you may be disappointed. As an award winning Wedding Officiant and Certified Celebrant, I’m in high demand and my dates book up really fast.

To be sure that I'm available on your date, I recommend you contact me as soon as you've selected your venue. Your signed service agreement and payment “locks in” your date/time so no other couple can have it.

Please click on the consultation button throughout my website to check my availability.

Is there a Service Agreement or Contract? +

Yes, I do require a straightforward Service Agreement that outlines the details of your ceremony and the terms of our agreement. This is designed to establish a clear written understanding of my services for your ceremony and to help everyone feel assured that all the details are covered.

Prices & Payment Policy

What are your prices? +

My non-negotiable prices are as follows:

  • $850 – Ceremony Only (Customized)
  • $1,050 – Ceremony + Rehearsal (Customized)
  • $1,500 – Full wedding day coordination services to ensure your special day is perfect. Typically booked 1 to 4 months out.

See my very detailed pricing page for more information.

What is your payment policy? +

Once you’ve had your initial consultation and you/we decide to move forward, your FULL PAYMENT must be made WITHIN 24 HOURS to lock-in your ceremony date and time.

If you’ve had your consultation and I don’t hear back from you within 24 hours, your ceremony date/time is automatically released back to the open market so that another couple can have it.

What forms of payment do you accept? +

I accept all major credit cards via PayPal. I do not accept personal checks or any other payment methods. Depending on your venue location, you may incur addition fees for mileage, gas, tolls and parking. See my pricing page for more information.

How do you justify your prices when the ceremony runs for only 30 minutes? +

Really? Okay, let me put it this way:

  • ACTUAL TIME: The amount of time involved in collaborating, crafting and delivering your beautiful ceremony is nowhere near 30 minutes. You are not paying $850 for half an hour of work – you are paying $850 for twenty plus hours of work, and years of experience.

  • PRICING TIP: Your ceremony should cost (at the very least) somewhere in the neighborhood of what you’re paying for your cake!

The Wedding Ceremony

What is the usual length for a wedding ceremony? +

My ceremonies generally last approximately 30 minutes. You want your ceremony long enough that your guests don’t question “that's it?” but not so long that they begin to squirm.

The length of your ceremony is determined by its structure, its layers and the amount of moving parts added for full customization.

What time should we ask our guests to arrive? +

If you know your people are always late for everything, be sure to add “a cushion” in the time you ask them to arrive and the start time of your ceremony. This way, your ceremony will start on time.

I highly recommend asking your guests to arrive at least 30 minutes early depending on your venue location and their mode of transportation.

Keep in mind that I may have another commitment after your ceremony, and if you and your guests are running very late, this could pose a problem of epic proportions.

Can we write our own vows? +

Yes, absolutely! I’m a big fan of personalized wedding vows and when my couples are up for it, I highly recommend it!

NOTE: This is not as easy as it seems. It can be a highly emotional and difficult process, but sooooo worth it!

Find some quick tips on writing your own vows here.

Can we include our pets in the ceremony? +

Nope. Pets and wedding ceremonies generally do not have a grand history together. I will not interact with any pets in any capacity whatsoever.

What time do you arrive for the Ceremony? +

I arrive at least 1 hour before the ceremony start time. If at the last minute you decide to change your start time, please let me know immediately.

Our wedding is not in the tri-state area, will you travel? +

Yes, absolutely! I will travel far and wide for my couples. You will incur additional travel costs. Please read my detailed pricing page in its entirety for further information.

What do you wear to officiate the ceremony? +

Check out my Ceremony Portfolio or the Meet Aretha page for an idea of how I dress for ceremonies.

My wardrobe can vary depending on the ceremony location and weather. However, I always dress conservatively.

I generally DO NOT wear ceremonial robes or other religious clothing. If you are having a theme for your wedding, I will make every effort (within reason) to adjust my clothing accordingly (e.g. beach wedding).

Will you stay for the after-ceremony festivities? +

Although I appreciate your hospitality, I do not stay for the reception or the cocktail hour. Once your marriage paperwork is all squared away, I will quietly make my exit.

Do you serve the LGBT community? +

Yes, absolutely! It would be my honor to officiate your LGBT wedding ceremony!

The Wedding Rehearsal

Do we really need a Rehearsal? +

The answer to this question is a definitive YES!!

The wedding rehearsal, (not to be confused with the rehearsal dinner) is very important – don’t let anyone talk you out of having a thorough rehearsal. Without one your photos and video can look a hot mess!

And oh, a “walk-through” is NOT the same as a thorough rehearsal.

What’s your availability and cost for Rehearsals? +

There is an additional fee for a rehearsal and it cannot be held on a Friday or Saturday. You should check my availability for your rehearsal before scheduling the rehearsal.

Why don’t you facilitate rehearsals on Fridays and Saturdays? +

I don’t facilitate rehearsals on Fridays and Saturdays because I’m a Professional Wedding Officiant (this is NOT my side hustle) and most of my weddings are happening on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

On some rare occasions I’m able to accommodate a couple requesting a Friday rehearsal but that’s rare. Just inquire and if my schedule permits, I’ll do my best to accommodate you.

How long is the Rehearsal? +

The rehearsal takes approximately 1 hour. This is not a “walk through”, this is a full-fledged rehearsal to make sure that all the moving parts of your ceremony is covered, that everyone is comfortable, and everything runs smoothly on your big day.

Where should we have the Rehearsal? +

I highly recommend having your rehearsal at the same venue and if possible in the same space as the ceremony. Sometimes that's not possible – its not the end of the world, we can work it out.

Click here for some rehearsal prep information.

Should we have our important vendors at the rehearsal? +

Besides your Officiant and maybe your Planner/Coordinator, this is not necessary. I always love it when the DJ can be present at my rehearsals but if he’s going to request an additional fee (which is usually the case), and your budget is tight, then don’t pay for this. Simply bring your ceremony playlist to the rehearsal on a device (not on your cell phone!) loud enough for us to hear and rehearse.

What if our venue cancel our rehearsal due to another event? +

Sometimes this happens and when it does, you should NOT cancel the rehearsal. I repeat, you should NOT cancel the rehearsal.

Think about it, if the venue says you can have a Friday night in July for one hour for your rehearsal, the odds of them booking an event and cancelling your one-hour rehearsal is pretty high.

You would then call me frantic, I would encourage you to take a deep breath (LOL) and not to worry and we just figure it out.

We simply get another space. That’s it.

I’ve ran rehearsals in conference rooms, parks, backyards and the list goes on and on.

But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you cancel your rehearsal if you lose your space.

And oh, your rehearsal payment (just like your ceremony payment), is nonrefundable.

Finally, if you move your rehearsal to another state, for example, if we were initially scheduled to do it in New Jersey and you move it to New York, you will incur additional fees such as mileage, gas, tolls and parking.

The Marriage License

What about the paperwork, do you help us with that? +

Yes. The legal requirements vary from state to state and you may find some general information regarding the paperwork portion of your big day here.

What’s the difference between the License and the Certificate? +

The marriage license is the document that authorizes you to get married and the marriage certificate is the document that proves you are married.

We’re already legally married (but no one knows), can you still perform our ceremony? +

Yes, absolutely! Please note though that it’s illegal to perform a “fake wedding ceremony”, so I would need to see a copy of your Certified Marriage Certificate before I perform your ceremony.

We just need our paperwork done. We don’t want a ceremony. Can you just do our paperwork? +

Yes, absolutely!

  • COST: If you don’t want a ceremony but just your paperwork processed, the price for that is $425.
  • PAPERWORK: You will need a valid Marriage License for me to sign, witness and process with the appropriate Registrar’s office.
  • WITNESSES: You can come to my office (by appointment only) or we can make arrangements for me to come to you for the signing. If I come to you, depending on your location, there may be additional fees such as mileage etc. Be sure to have your TWO witnesses available on that date/time.

General Questions

Do you offer pre-marital counseling? +

No, I don’t offer this service, but I’d be happy to provide a Referral.

Do we have to share our images and videos if we don’t want to? +

I’m so appreciative to my amazing couples who generously share their entire wedding image gallery, giving me full access to take whatever images I want. This has allowed me to build a prolific ceremony portfolio. Thank You!

You certainly don’t have to do that if you don't want to.

Do you offer Wedding Day Coordination? +

Yes! I offer top notch Wedding Day Coordination services. This service is typically booked 1 to 4 months (or more) out from your wedding day. Check out my coordination services over at Aretha Gaskin Events.

Do you have a Preferred Vendor List? +

Yes, I do have an unpublished Preferred Vendor List that I provide to all my clients upon request.

Can we meet you in person before booking you? +

Nope. 100% of my couples book me without having to meet me in person beforehand.

The initial consultation and subsequent ceremony meetings are done remotely and my couples LOVE IT! We meet in person at the rehearsal and of course at the ceremony.

I want to become an Officiant, can you Mentor me? +

Yes! I love sharing my knowledge and experience of this wonderful and exciting world of wedding officiating! So much so that I’ve created The Officiant Business School – a place where you can get everything from Ceremony Workshops to personalized Mentoring and much more.

Other Services

Day-Of Coordination +

If you’ve booked your vendors, planned your wedding and need a top-notch Day-of Coordinator to orchestrate all the details on your big day, check out my Wedding Day Coordination services over at Aretha Gaskin Events.

For Engaged Couples +

During wedding season, I facilitate monthly information packed FREE Webinars for engaged couples to teach them everything they need to know about the Wedding Ceremony and their Wedding Officiant.

Officiant Business School +

The Officiant Business School is an online training school for Wedding Officiants where we help Officiants worldwide create and launch successful officiating businesses.

You can find everything from Ceremony Workshops to personalized Mentoring.

Websites By Aretha +

In addition to my Officiating, Coordinating and Online School, I also design websites for small business owners, specifically for wedding industry professionals. Check out my website design business over at Websites By Aretha.