Wedding Day Checklist

Congratulations  and  Best Wishes!
I am happy to preside at your wedding.
Here are some useful reminders.
All couples might want to read
at least 1, 2, and 7.

1. As soon as you arrive (unless we made other arrangements), you’ll want to place the two-part

  • license-certificate envelope package
on the altar-table. It takes me about five minutes to complete my part of the "paperwork" and then I'll have the two adults you selected sign at the bottom of both the license and the certificate. You have nothing to sign. Their signing before  the ceremony lets you enjoy your guests, take pictures, or whatever you’d like to do afterwards immediately.
     After the ceremony, be sure to take the Certificate envelope with the
certificate from the altar-table when you leave! -- or designate someone to pick up the certificate for you.
     You are welcome to return the license to the County office yourself or I will do it for you.
LEARN MORE  Buchanan County licenses should be returned to the courthouse by the couple (see #10 below).

2. If the ceremony includes any of the following, you’ll want to be sure they are in place before the wedding begins. Often the best place is the ceremonial table for the
          * vows if you are preparing them
          * rings 
          * special ceremonial items such as a                
             Unity Candle set, wine, sand containers,      
             lasso, photos, etc. 

     If I'm preparing vows on scrolls for you, I'll get them on the altar-table before the ceremony begins.
     If you are 
concerned about placing a tight ring on your spouse’s finger, a little soap inside the ring might help.

3. The Chapel staff is eager to assist with entrances and exits. You may also want to double-check if you have arranged for recorded music. 

4. INFORMAL GREETING. For weddings with many guests, just before the ceremony begins, I’ll informally greet your seated guests and, if appropriate, light chancel candles. LEARN MORE. For more intimate weddings, this is unnecessary.
5. Weddings with Bride and Groom often begin with the Minister entering from the side with the Groom immediately following, then followed by the best man. Alternatively, couples may process or appear together, or make other plans best suited to the facility and the couple’s wishes.
     Same-sex couples also have many options.

6. After the men are in place in a bride-groom wedding,  usually the hostess (or someone you designate) helps the Bride’s party to enter from the front door of the chapel to process in. In case of rain, umbrellas or a "Plan B" may be used.

7. During the ceremony, you will want to enjoy looking at each other — not me — except when I’m giving directions. We’ll not rush. Feel free to stand naturally  and reach out to each other — and hold hands if you like at any time. I'll guide you through the ceremony so you do not need to worry about remembering anything -- except to kiss after I pronounce you married!

8. After welcoming everyone, in many weddings as arranged, I’ll motion for the bride to give her flowers to her maid/matron/man of honor to hold until the end of the ceremony when the bride takes them to recess with her husband.

9. Here is advice for you to send to your photographer. With your permission, I’d like to take a photo of you together after the ceremony. If your photographer wants me in any posed photos, this would be a good time, immediately after the ceremony. 

10. The certificate is yours to take when you leave — unless we make other arrangements, you will find it after the ceremony on the altar-table. It is legal proof of your marriage. Be sure you have it when you leave the chapel. Unless you wish to return the license to the court yourself, I will mail it for you. If you applied for a certified copy when you applied for your license, it will be sent to you automatically after the court records the endorsed license.
For you to return the license ourself, you'll sign a receipt to relieve me of that legal responsibity. This is the fastest way for you to obtain a certified copy of the endorsed marriage license. I always recommend this for Buchanan County.

11. Current health advice based on local assessments are found here.

12. Please feel free to let me know as any questions arise.


Another form of these reminders can be found here: CeremonyReminders

13. My arrival at Pilgrim Chapel

I usually walk to Pilgrim Chapel from my home about half a mile away. Depending on the weather, I may not be properly attired when I arrive. Even after I am presentable -- perhaps to have your witnesses sign the License and Certificate -- I may not be vested for the ceremony. But when it is time, I will be ready!

Again, thank you for inviting me to be with you on this happy occasion!

Vern #sequence

*A sequence for wedding entrances and exits follows, but adaptation for same-sex couples and each situation is best.

0. The mothers of the bride and groom and others designated for the honor of speacial seats, usually closest to the chancel, are seated after all other guests are seated.

1. The minister may provide informal greetings to the guests. 

2. The minister, the groom, and best man enter from the side and wait in the chancel. 

3. Groomsmen follow the best man immediately from the side or can escort the bridesmaids from the front door of the chapel.

4. The bridesmaids singly or with groomsmen escorts begin the procession.

5. The ring bearer and/or flower girl.

6. The maid or matron of honor.

7. The bride, often with an escort -- her father or other close male family member or friend on her right.

8. When the brides father reaches the chancel, he may kiss her and then place her hand in her grooms hand.

9. The minister begins the ceremony by welcoming the guests.

10. He then motions for the bride to hand her flowers to her maid/matron of honor to hold during the ceremony.

11. After the couple are pronounced husband and wife, the bride is handed her flowers in preparation for the recessional.

12. After the benediction, the couple recess, followed by the wedding party.


     Signing of marriage license and certifcate
     Informal Greeting
     Special seatings

    Welcome by the minister
    Consent and Presentations
    Prayer if desired and Reading(s) if desired
    Exchanging of Vows and Rings
    Pronouncement and embrace
    Benediction [or Farewell Wish]


Some General Thoughts about Weddings

1. I like to help couples design their own ceremony -- civil, religious, simple, elaborate -- that best expresses their desire and needs for themselves and their guests. 

2. Some think of weddings as a time of instruction, but it is really a time of celebration. Isn't it rather late at this point for the officiant to offer lecture or discourse on the requirements for marriage? The wedding should be about the couple, not me; references to the minister should be as few as possible; instead, let the focus be on the love and commitment of the couple and the joy they bring to their family and friends. #approach3

3. Here's a specific example contrasting instruction with celebration. After the couple has been pronounced husband and wife, many officiants say to the groom, "You may now kiss the bride." Frankly, I have no right to give permission for a husband to kiss his wife. A kiss is customary and I encourage it, but why should the minister presume to authorize such an intimate moment?
     When couples request me to employ this language, I ask to be excused from such duty. I tell them, "You'll be legally married at that moment. The law gives me the right to pronounce you married, but it doesn't give me the right to tell a husband he may kiss his wife. Or that the wife may kiss her husband. I'll make it clear by gesture when a kiss is appropriate according to tradition. In my experience, guests much prefer to see this happen without me using this patriarchal, possessive, authoritarian, sexist, controlling formula. It is much more fun for your guests to see a kiss unprompted." 
     It's a bad way to start a marriage by having a third party presuming to give a couple permission to embrace. I have done hundreds of weddings, and couples invariably, naturally, and easily kiss without my having to give them permission. 

4. Many old sexist customs, if used, can be reinterpreted to treat each person of the couple equally. This can be easily done to enhance the dignity of even the most high-spirited ceremony. An example is the sexist practice of the father giving the bride away. Instead, both families can present (not give away) and bless their children and the marriage. 
     Most Brides want to process into the chapel with an escort, perhaps her father, up to the chancel area. This Western custom originated with the sense that she is her father's property to "give away" to the groom. Another different traditional practice is for each set of parents to enter with each of the couple and remain with them for the ceremony. A contemporary alternate is for the couple to process together into the company of family and friends to celebrate their love and commitment; they may have attendants precede them to the chancel area. 

5. I've pretty much given up on the idea that each action should express appropriate meaning because most couples want to do the expected or pretty thing. 
     For example, some weddings begin with a procession of women walking down the aisle before the bride, to stand at the front opposite the men who had assembled when the groom appeared. At the end of the ceremony, the men escort the women out, following the new husband and wife. But why should the men and women match up that way? Nothing has happened between them; they didn't get married; why should they exit as a couple when they entered singly?
     In fact, why should a couple to be married who have been together for years not enter the church and walk down the aisle together? #

6. As I say, I've pretty much given up on such points and recognize the force of tradition and expectation. I routinely decide in favor of what the couple wants.
7. Most couples like music as part of the occasion, and most couples like to decorate. But neither is necessary. Pilgrim Chapel is already a special place without additional adornments. 
     A recent wedding showed how beautiful and moving simplicity can be.

     The bride, wearing a simple dress, did not even carry flowers and none appeared on the altar-table. She processed gracefully without music. The altar-table did have lit candles, a sign of sacred festivity; and a goblet and two cruets of wine, sweet and bitter, which, mixed, the couple would share; and scrolls with the vows the couple would exchange with each other. These items furthered rather than detracted from the ceremony.
     A relative was honored by reading a poem. Nothing was extraneous; everything focused on the love and commitment between the couple. And the recessional was celebrated with such enthusiastic applause that would have made music utterly superfluous.

     This was not about saving money; it was about the best way this couple had to express an unobstructed vision of their love and commitment. Their focus was not on flowers, or expensive attire, or elaborate ornaments, or other embellishments, but rather on family and friends who decorated the space from around the country with their presence. In this case, decorations would have detracted from the elements of the ceremony they had carefully planned.
     Couples who do wish to economize can easily do so with great dignity and meaning. 

8. VOWS. The vows of tradition are beautiful and difficult to surpass in their richness, meaning, and simplicity. But couples who wish to write their own should be encouraged. My advice appears here
     Once a couple who did not heed my advice about the length of the vows wore out the patience of their guests with a two-page single-spaced, tiny-font set of promises so exhausting to deliver that the bride had to sit down for a time before the wedding could proceed. Surely such a catalogue could have been given as a wedding present to her groom rather than making folks wonder if there was any end to what she would promise her groom in public.

9. Specific examples and circumstances appear in the columns I wrote about weddings for The Kansas City Star.

9. Most weddings do not need a WEDDING PLANNER. If you do want professional help, please select carefully. You may want to refer them to these notes:
     I usually conduct the rehearsal. After introductions, I ask the wedding party to take their places as if the wedding ceremony itself were about to begin with the Words of Welcome from me. Then I ask the planner to help the wedding party learn how to get to those places, and how to recess. The rehearsal may include actual parts of the ceremony, depending on the wishes of the couple. Often the rehearsal ends with a prayer or a circle of best wishes.
     Planners will want to be familiar with the physical layoutprocessional options, and with the law regarding the license and certificate.
     A wedding should be well-planned, but not over-rehearsed. This is a real event, not a stage production. You want to be free of concerns about photography, arrivals, seatings, and such, to be able to rely on me to guide you through the ceremony, and comfortable enough to enjoy your wedding and each other and your guests.
     Planners should review my rehearsal routine and are welcome to contact me with any questions before the rehearsal or wedding. of Pilgrim Chapel, with possible



These terms are somewhat arbitrary simple labels 
and not theological positions.
Each may be customized to the wishes of the couple.

A "CIVIL" ceremony contains no religious references, though words like "sacred" and "benediction" may be used if the couple wishes.

A "SPIRITUAL" ceremony will invoke "God" unless the couple prefers expressions like "Spirit of Generations" or "Creator" or "Souce of All" or some other wording.

A "CHRISTIAN" ceremony explicitly uses the name of Jesus Christ. Often a passage of Christian scripture is included.

A "UNIQUE" or "CUSTOM" ceremony may involve various traditions.

     If your wedding is ceremonial only
     no license is needed. Just let me know if you want to
     a--. keep your earlier mariage a secret,
     b--. include that information within the ceremony, 
     c--. have a wedding without a legal status, or
     d--. or any other preference you might have.

The Marriage License and Certificate
For Kansas weddings, see this

Weddings at Pilgrim Chapel require a Missouri
marriage license valid for 30 days after it is issued by any Missouri county courthouse. For example:

 Downtown temporarily closed:
 use Independence office.
Historic Truman Courthouse
112 W. Lexington
Suite 30
Independence, MO 64050
Apply in person with ID
Apply on line
Waiting period: None
License expires in 30 days
Witnesses required during the wedding: two

Jackson County Downtown Kansas City
415 E. 12th Street, Room 104
Kansas City, MO 64106

The "paperwork" includes both a License and a Certificate. The envelope from the court containing them is best given to the minister at the rehearsal or placed on the altar-table as soon as you arrive. You have nothing to sign. [In special cases you may be asked to write your name and location on the Certificate.] The minister will then invite the two adult witnesses you have designated to sign the documents and he will endorse them. (Some counties also ask for the addresses of the witnesses; the forms vary from county to county.) It is usually best to complete the "paperwork" before the wedding, so you can enjoy your guests or take photos or leave for your reception right after the ceremony.
Following the ceremony, I'll place the Certificate on the altar-table unless other arrangements are made. The Certificate is legal evidence* of the marriage.  In your excitement after the marriage, be sure to take the Certificate with you!
    The law requires the return of the endorsed License within 15 days to the County office which issued the License.
     The couple may return the License to the county office by signing a receipt for the license to relieve me of this legal responsibility. Many couples prefer to do this if they want the quickest way to get a certified copy of their license. I especially recommend this for Buchanan County.

Some couples may wish to obtain a certified copy of the endorsed License. Application for a copy can be made when applying for the License or at a later time. The Jackson County fee for a marriage license is $50; a certified copy is another $10. The minister's own records also note each marriage as required by law.
For a name change, present a certified copy of the marriage license to apporpriate offices, such as Social Security, Drivers License Bureau, banks, and so forth. The marriage license office does not make name changes. You can make name changes at any time.

Marriages are governed generally by state law, but each state recognizes the marriages performed in other states even though they may have different requirements. And the counties in Missouri have different forms, but as long as you have a Missouri license, since the wedding is in Missouri, you'll be legal. 
     I once perfromed a wedding without checking the license first. After the wedding, when I discovered the couple had a Kansas license, the couple, their witnesses, and I had to go over the State Line to Kansas, find an appropriate spot, and have another brief ceremony there. I'm glad the weather was good that day! Now I always get the legal requirements completed before the ceremony.
     (I am legally recognized in both Kansas and Missouri.)

*2018 Missouri Revised Statutes
Title XXX - Domestic Relations -- Chapter 451 - Marriage, Marriage Contracts, and Rights of Married Women
Section 451.110 Certificate of marriage to be given.
Universal Citation: MO Rev Stat 451.110 (2018)

"451.110. Certificate of marriage to be given. — Every person solemnizing marriages under this chapter shall issue and deliver to the parties to such marriage a certificate thereof, which shall be furnished in blank by the officer who issues such license, setting forth the names and residence of the parties and the date of such marriage, and the county from which the license was issued and the date of same; and such certificates shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated in all courts of this state."

"193.185(3). Each person who performs a marriage shall certify the fact of marriage and return the license to the official who issued the license within fifteen days after the ceremony. The license shall be signed by the witnesses to the ceremony. A marriage certificate shall be given to the parties."
     [The county issuing the license provides an addressed envelope for the officiant for this purpose with the license and certificate which the couple present to the officiant before the ceremony. If the couple wishes to return the endorsed license to the court, the officiant requires a receipt from the couple to protect him against claims of violating his legal responsibility.]


LEGAL DETAILS:  Vern complies with the Missouri (and Kansas) requirements for a wedding officiant. Missouri law states:

Section 451.100. "Marriages maybe solemnized by any
clergyman, either active or retired, who is in good standing
with any church or synagogue in this state. Marriages may
also be solemnized, without compensation, by any judge,
including a municipal judge. Marriages may also be
solemnized by a religious society, religious institution, or
religious organization of this state, according to the
regulations and customs of the society, institution or
organization, when either party to the marriage to be
solemnized is a member of such society, institution or
      Section 451.115. Anyone "not authorized by law to
solemnize marriages who shall falsely represent that he is authorized, and who, by any pretended marriage
ceremony which he may perform, shall deceive any
innocent person or persons into the belief that they have
been legally married, shall, on conviction, be adjudged
guilty of a class C misdemeanor." 


If you have a relative or friend you would like to preside at your wedding who is not legally qualified (see above), Vern can assist to whatever extent you wish in order to provide legal compliance.

100 N Kansas Ave 
Olathe, KS 66061 
913 715-3428 
Apply in person with ID 
Waiting period: 3 days 
License expires in 6 months 
Witnesses required: two 
      The law requires both the License and a         Certificate. The minister provides the couple
with the witnessed Certificate of Marriage
after the ceremony and returns the endorsed
license to the state.



Before or after special seatings (as for parents and other close relatives), an informal greeting may be offered, and candles may be lit.

Several ways of formal entrances are in use. You will want to decide on which style or how to adapt one according to your wishes.

+These plans can be enhanced if the groom escorts a mother (or other relatives) to his/her/their seat(s) from the rear and then takes his place with the minister (and best man and groomsmen) in the chancel area.

1 or 1+. Traditional Plan
Minister, Groom & Best Man enter from side
down aisle honored men, 
then women, flower girl & ring-bearer, escorted bride 

2 or 2+. Chapel Plan
Minister, Groom & Groomsmen enter from side
down aisle honored women, 
flower girl & ring-bearer, escorted bride 

3 or 3+. Paired Plan
Minister, Groom enter from side
down aisle attendants paired, 
flower girl & ring-bearer, escorted bride

4 or 4=. Couple Plan
after seating guest, groom returns to door,  escorts bride.
Minister enters from side
down aisle Groom and Bride enter together, followed by (or after) attendants

5. Custom Plan
Develop this with your minister (and wedding planner).          Some couples prefer variations on this plan:
               one set of parents enters
               the other set enters
               the groom enters
               the bride processes
     Other couples like everyone entering from the side            Some want the guests to remain outside while
               the wedding takes places in the nave, and then
               the guests process!



The Wedding Rehearsal

Most weddings do not need a rehearsal, but sometimes couples like to have them to preview the ceremony to feel more comfortable and help the wedding party be sure of their roles. or even as part of an evening prenuptual celebration by including family and friends. Whatever your reason for scheduling a rehearsal might be, these considerations might be helpful:

If there are health concerns, I will begin the rehearsal when safety and health guidelines are observed.

1. Please remind folks that the Chapel is sometimes scheduled with events back-to-back, so it is important to be on time.

2. Usually I dress casually for a rehearsal. If you want me to dress up, please let me know.

2. Bring the paperwork (license, certificate, return envelope) in the big white envelope from the courthouse and place it on the altar-table as soon as you arrive unless we make other arrangements. Preparing the documents at the rehearsal with your two witnesses makes it possible for you to focus on each other and your guests at the wedding itself with this detail already completed.  You have nothing to sign.

3. I will conduct the rehearsaI and call on the couple (and the wedding planner if one) to be sure that entrances and exits are what is desired.

4. Often is fun to begin with introductions -- who are you and what is your role in the wedding? This can be especially important for children.

5. I outline the ceremony sequence to give you a good sense of the order of things. 

6. Rocio (and other staff) at the Chapel and I want to help everyone know how to enter and exit, where to sit or stand, and how everyone gets in place, and departs when the ceremony is completed. Questions and suggestions are welcome.

7. The ceremony in sequence itself is rehearsed, though many parts need only to be mentioned, not run through completely. For example, any readers need only know when and where they appear and stand, and may rehearse with only the first and last sentences of their readings.

8. Sometimes  ending the rehearsal with a brief prayer of blessing or, for a civil ceremony, a circle of best wishes, may be appropriate.

9. If everyone is on time, and there are no technical problems with recorded music, the rehearsal usually should take less than an hour.


Wedding Rings

Many couples choose to exchange rings during the wedding ceremony. Unless you have other plans, I suggest placing the rings on the altar-table when you arrive. This makes it easy on your best man (what pocket did I put that ring in?)(who probably doesn't have a pocket in her dress). and maid of honor

It is often appropriate for the minister to consecrate, bless, or  explicate the rings, then offer them to the couple with short phrases each might repeat to the other. 

If you have any concern about slipping them on your beloved's finger, a little soap on the inside of the rings may make it slide more easly. If you have difficulty, take your time -- no rush, and if your beloved wants to help, that's OK, too.

About the minister
Dr Vern Barnet, ordained in 1970, founded CRES in 1982 as a multi-faith resource for Kansas City. For eighteen years, his column, “Faiths and Beliefs,” appeared each Wednesday in The Kansas City Star into retirement. Here are some of his columns about weddings.
     The recipient of many awards for his civic and professional activities, and author of numerous articles, poems, and reviews, and several books, he has taught at area colleges and seminaries, and has studied and spoken throughout the United States and abroad. His general approach to weddings is here.
       He prefers to be called simply “Vern” — though if you wish to include his name 
on a printed program, please use this style:
The Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn.

Wikipedia article          CRES web bio

LEGAL DETAILS:  Vern complies with the Missouri requirements for a wedding officiant. The law states:
     Section 451.100. "Marriages maybe solemnized by any clergyman, either active or retired, who is in good standing with any church or synagogue in this state. Marriages may also be solemnized, without compensation, by any judge, including a municipal judge. Marriages may also be solemnized by a religious society, religious institution, or religious organization of this state, according to the regulations and customs of the society, institution or organization, when either party to the marriage to be solemnized is a member of such society, institution or organization." 
     Section 451.115. Anyone "not authorized by law to solemnize marriages who shall falsely represent that he is so authorized, and who, by any pretended marriage ceremony which he may perform, shall deceive any innocent person or persons into the belief that they have been legally married, shall, on conviction, be adjudged guilty of a class C misdemeanor."

Meeting by Zoom
and about the Wedding Itself

Zoom may be the easiest and best way for us to meet. These recent years, I've also discovered that having access to all sorts of material at my study while Zooming has sometimes been particularly useful to the couple.

(Pilgrim Chapel is exceptionally well-ventilated, and other measures are in place for those concerned about health safety. Masks can be available in the entryway for any who might wish them. It is important that you and your guests feel safe so that this happy occasion can be fully enjoyed.)

It is important to me that your wedding is what you want it to be, and that you are delighted with your officiant. The wedding is not about the offciant -- it is about your expression of love and commitment celebrated in the company of your guests.

Fees for the minister and site
Fees for my services are included 
with Pilgrim Chapel arrangements.

Fees for other ministers may be arranged
separately, depending on circumstances. 

Fees for other sites:
     The honorarium for the minister’s services depends on the extent of the planning, whether a rehearsal is desired, and the context of the ceremony. You will want to include it in your wedding budget. Site fees are arranged directly between you and the venue.

For additional information 

    For inquiries about, and scheduling of, 
    Pilgrim Chapel, please call 816.753.6719 or 
     write .

     For more about wedding ceremonies, 
     baptisms, and other rites of passage, 
     email me,  -- 
     my desk and flipfone numbers can be 
     made available for your convenience.

     For select adjunct services, (photography, 
           music, limo, planner-coordinator) click here. 


Vern interviewed about weddings

This interview was initiated and conducted by a marketing agency with which Vern decided not to establish a relationship, though the questions seemed useful. 

How does your service stand out? 
     I enjoy designing customized weddings for the couples who wish a civil, a traditional, a multifaith, or a unique ceremony. My background includes 

  • officating at hundreds of weddings in my career at many local sites and beyond 
  • ordination and a doctorate (5-year graduate work at a prestigeous seminary, not a mail-order sham) 
  • special exerience in the field of world religions (I founded the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council in 1989) 
  • writing skills (I wrote a weekly column for The Kansas City Star for 18 years among many other publications) 
  • my bio appears on Wikipedia at 
  • my wedding checklist appears here 
  • chosen as the resident officiant at Pilgrim Chapel
Although my formal name is the Reverend Vern Barnet, DMn, I prefer to be called simply Vern. 

What is your typical process for working with a new request? 
     Meeting the couple (sometimes using Zoom) helps assure I understand what they want in their wedding. Using the checklist and information on my website helps to cover every desire. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work? 
     As I mentioned --

  •      Doctor of Ministry degree (earned through a 5-year graduate program at one of the world's top divinity schools), not mail-order) 
  •      Experience officiating at hundreds of weddings 
  •      Background in civil ceremonies and world religions 
Do you have a standard pricing system for your services? If so, please share the details here. 
     At Pilgrim Chapel, my fee is included in the arrangements made with Pilgrim Chapel.
     Elsewhere my fee depends on the extent of planning required, whether the couple wishes a rehearsal, the involvement the couple wishes from me in associated festivities, and such. I suggest a sliding scale and respect each couple's financial situation. The quality of my work deserves appropriate recognition. 

How did you get started officiating for weddings? 
     As a seminarian at the University of Chicago Divinity School, I learned how to conduct public ceremonies.
I've been learning ever since from the happy people I've been asked to marry. 

What types of folks have you worked with? 
     As you can imagine over the course of a career spanning more than half a century, I've been blessed with the complete range --

  •      young people starting out 
  •      couples with previous marriages, often with children 
  •      same-sex couples 
  •      folks with no religious affiliation 
  •      Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and folks from other traditions 
Describe a recent event you are fond of. 
     I recently enjoyed doing an interfaith baptism for a couple I had married several years ago. The ceremony used waters from the Ganges, the Tiber, the Seine, the Missouri, the Yangtze, and other rivers of the world. 
    If I can mention another: marrying a young couple. The groom was the son of a couple I married decades ago.

What advice would you give a folks looking to find a professionally-trained officiant? 
     Look for an officiant who is able to respond to unexected situations, as sometimes arise in the best-planned weddings, someone who makes guests feel comfortable, and who can establish and project the atmoshere the couple desires for the wedding. 

What top three questions might folks think through before talking to professionals about their needs?
     Sometimes the couple may be weighing options about these questions, and they need not wait until they are sure what they want. Sometimes the officiant can help them think through the possibilities. 

  1.      What kind of event the couple desires -- civil, religious, traditional, unique, indoors, outdoors, formal or informal, with rehearsal or not, a reception or not, and when. 
  2.      Who and how many might be involved as particiants (attendants, musicians, etc) and who as guests. 
  3.      Where the wedding might be held. 
What else would you like to say?
     I've written about my general approach to weddings and offer some specific thoughts "the kiss" and such on my website, as well as in a dozen of my columns for The Kansas City Star.



Pilgrim Chapel has proved to be an exceptionally beautiful and convenient site for many weddings, and I have a wonderful relationship with the staff there. 

The Kansas City area offers many choice sites for weddings and receptions --

parks -- example: Loose Park
gardens -- example: Powell Gardens
elegant venues -- example: Webster House
religious settings -- example: Pilgrim Chapel
historic sites -- example: Alexander Majors Barn
and perhaps your own home or a friends's home.
     If you have not yet selected a location, I may offer suggestions depending on the kind of wedding you wish to have. Facility fees are arranged directly between you and the venue.
     The honorarium for the minister’s services depends on the extent of the planning, whether a rehearsal is desired, and the context of the ceremony. You will want to include it in your wedding budget. The minister's fee is included in rental arrangements with Pilgrim Chapel. 

The 36 Questions That Lead to Love

By Daniel Jones
Jan. 9, 2015

In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” [below the list] she refers to a study by the psychologist Arthur Aron (and others) that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.

The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.

The final task Ms. Catron and her friend try — staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes — is less well documented, with the suggested duration ranging from two minutes to four. But Ms. Catron was unequivocal in her recommendation. “Two minutes is just enough to be terrified,” she told me. “Four really goes somewhere.”

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five story

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.


To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This

By Mandy Len Catron
Jan. 9, 2015

More than 20 years ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. Last summer, I applied his technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.

Let me explain. Earlier in the evening, that man had said: “I suspect, given a few commonalities, you could fall in love with anyone. If so, how do you choose someone?”

He was a university acquaintance I occasionally ran into at the climbing gym and had thought, “What if?” I had gotten a glimpse into his days on Instagram. But this was the first time we had hung out one-on-one.

“Actually, psychologists have tried making people fall in love,” I said, remembering Dr. Aron’s study. “It’s fascinating. I’ve always wanted to try it.”

I first read about the study when I was in the midst of a breakup. Each time I thought of leaving, my heart overruled my brain. I felt stuck. So, like a good academic, I turned to science, hoping there was a way to love smarter.

I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said.

Let me acknowledge the ways our experiment already fails to line up with the study. First, we were in a bar, not a lab. Second, we weren’t strangers. Not only that, but I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening.

I Googled Dr. Aron’s questions; there are 36. We spent the next two hours passing my iPhone across the table, alternately posing each question.

They began innocuously: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”

But they quickly became probing.

In response to the prompt, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” he looked at me and said, “I think we’re both interested in each other.”

I grinned and gulped my beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged stories about the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.

The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.

I liked learning about myself through my answers, but I liked learning things about him even more. The bar, which was empty when we arrived, had filled up by the time we paused for a bathroom break.

I sat alone at our table, aware of my surroundings for the first time in an hour, and wondered if anyone had been listening to our conversation. If they had, I hadn’t noticed. And I didn’t notice as the crowd thinned and the night got late.

We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives. At 13, away from home for the first time, it felt natural to get to know someone quickly. But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner, a total of five items” (Question 22), and “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

We finished at midnight, taking far longer than the 90 minutes for the original study. Looking around the bar, I felt as if I had just woken up. “That wasn’t so bad,” I said. “Definitely less uncomfortable than the staring into each other’s eyes part would be.”

He hesitated and asked. “Do you think we should do that, too?”

“Here?” I looked around the bar. It seemed too weird, too public.

“We could stand on the bridge,” he said, turning toward the window.

The night was warm and I was wide-awake. We walked to the highest point, then turned to face each other. I fumbled with my phone as I set the timer.

“O.K.,” I said, inhaling sharply.

“O.K.,” he said, smiling.

I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I know the eyes are the windows to the soul or whatever, but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me. Once I embraced the terror of this realization and gave it time to subside, I arrived somewhere unexpected.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder. Part of that wonder was at my own vulnerability and part was the weird kind of wonder you get from saying a word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes what it actually is: an assemblage of sounds.

So it was with the eye, which is not a window to anything but rather a clump of very useful cells. The sentiment associated with the eye fell away and I was struck by its astounding biological reality: the spherical nature of the eyeball, the visible musculature of the iris and the smooth wet glass of the cornea. It was strange and exquisite.

When the timer buzzed, I was surprised — and a little relieved. But I also felt a sense of loss. Already I was beginning to see our evening through the surreal and unreliable lens of retrospect.

Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed.

But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.

It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

You’re probably wondering if he and I fell in love. Well, we did. Although it’s hard to credit the study entirely (it may have happened anyway), the study did give us a way into a relationship that feels deliberate. We spent weeks in the intimate space we created that night, waiting to see what it could become.

Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

Reminders for Your Ceremony

1. Your wedding is for you to enjoy with your guests; let me know if I can do anything to enhance your experience.

2. If appropriate, I will  informally greet your guests just before the wedding begins.

3. We need not rush.

4. Often the Groom follows me entering from the side. I will point to where he stands in the chancel. We wait there for the Bride.

5. The Bride usually enters from the front door, often escorted. If by her Dad, when he brings her up the platform, he may kiss her on the cheek and place her hand in the Groom’s.

6. When everyone is in place and Bride and Groom are facing each other, I begin the ceremony by welcoming the guests.

7. Then I’ll motion for the Bride to hand her flowers to someone designated to hold during most of the ceremony.

8. After you consent to one another, I’ll ask Who presents the Bride . . ?, and family members, seated or standing, respond, “I do” or “We do.” Then I’ll ask Who presents the Groom . . ?, with a similar response.

9. Unless we made other plans, the Groom and then the Bride exchange vows with each other by reading them from small scrolls which I’ll hand to you. Remove the ribbon and hand it to me.

11. After you are pronounced husband and wife, remember to kiss! Then I’ll turn you to face your guests, ask everyone to stand for the concluding benediction,  and the bride is handed her flowers in preparation for the recessional.

12. After the benediction, the couple recess, followed by the wedding party if any.

** Remember to leave with your Wedding Certificate!

    Welcome by the minister
    Consent and Presentations
    Prayer if desired and Reading(s) if desired
    Exchanging of Vows and Rings
    Pronouncement and embrace
    Benediction or Farewell Wish

Box 45414, Kansas City, MO 64171

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Simpson House 713 504  0092 and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Bragg auditorium or Conover Hall 713 504  0092
The Loretto is on 39th Street, in the neighborhood. I've never officiated there.
KUMed has a chapel in the older part of the building, plain New England style, where I've done a couple weddings in the past.
Easy to get to your reception, Webster House near the Crossroads part of town, near the Kauffman PAC, is likely to be pricey.
There are a number of "Event Spaces" downtown, such as Faultless -- 1009 W. 8th Street  |  Kansas City, MO 64101 | 913.486.2474  --again, these are going to be more expensive.
The Vow Exchange does not require you do meet with the minister they select ahead of time, but it is budget-price
Churches can have requirements that make things difficult.
Unity Temple - Charles Fillmore Chapel - was no rehearsal, 90 minutes "walk-in" $380 includes everything.
See the chapel ahead of time at your convenience M-Th office hours.

  During COVID I have officiated at over one hundred joyous weddings while masked. At the present time, because of my son, I continue to mask unless the ceremony is very short and guests are few, but no one is now required to mask. As the COVID situation continues to improve, these protocols may be relaxed.