A marriage officiant is a person who officiates at a wedding ceremony.
Marriage officiant is a civil officer who performs acts of marriage, civil union or commitment. Their main responsibility is to receive and witness the consent of the intended spouses and to ensure the legal formalities, and hence the validity of the marriage or civil union, are observed. Unlike wedding and civil union ceremonies, there is no legal filing of paperwork required for commitment ceremonies.
In the United States, Canada and many other countries around the world, a celebrant is a person who performs religious or secular celebrancy services for weddings, funerals, child namings, coming of age ceremonies, and other rituals.
Most Celebrants are ordained clergy, while some are legal officials (usually judges), and others are Officiants empowered by the Humanist Associations around the world.
Celebrants may perform alternative and nontraditional ceremonies in places, and under circumstances where mainstream religious clergy will not. Some Celebrants perform same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies. Celebrants, also called Officiants, often perform ceremonies in parks, on beaches, on mountains, on boats, on hiking trails, in hotels, in banquet halls, in private homes, and many other places.
Laws in each state of the United States vary about who has the ability to perform wedding ceremonies, but Celebrants or Officiants are usually categorized as "clergy" and have the same rights and responsibilities as ordained clergy. In Canada and in the US States of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont, the only places in North America where same-sex marriages are legalized, Celebrants and Officiants perform many LGBT weddings. As of 2010, Same-sex marriage are also legally performed in seven countries in Europe including Belgium, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, one country in South America, Argentina, and one country in Africa, South Africa.
In the United States, celebrants are professional ceremony officiants who believe in the power and effectiveness of ceremony and ritual to serve basic needs of society and the individual. They collaborate with their clients to create and perform personalized ceremonies that reflect the client’s beliefs, philosophy of life, and personality; not the celebrant’s. See Celebrant (United States) for more information.
In Scotland, since a June 2005 ruling by the Registrar General, humanist weddings are now legal, providing that they are conducted by an Authorized Celebrant of the Humanist Society of Scotland making Scotland one of only three countries in the world where this is the case. (The other two are the USA and Norway.)
Celebrants differ from Chaplains in that Celebrants serve the unaffiliated public at large, while Chaplains are usually employed by an institution such as a hospital or other health care facility, the military, etc.
In Australia, Celebrants have a slightly different role, as regulated by local and national laws. See Celebrant (Australia) for more information.
In Quaker weddings the couple marry each other with no third party officiating.
- ^ Officiant's regulations in Quebec
- ^ Officant's FAQ in California
- ^ FAQ Officiating Weddings throughout the United States, with links to State Code Sections
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