After our first no-obligation coffee meeting or video chat — when you decide that you can’t imagine anyone but me solemnizing your marriage! — you sign a contract and return it to me with a non-refundable deposit for half the agreed-upon fee, which also retains your rehearsal and ceremony date.
The Agreement and SASE are something I provide you with in the packet of materials I give to you at our coffee meeting, or else I mail to you if distance is a consideration.
Then at the Rehearsal, I collect the balance in cash or check made out to“Julie Trump.”
I do offer a 10% discount if you'd like to pay the entire amount up front in cash.
By the way, the packet of materials has a lot of Wedding Vow samples and guidance devised by me personally, and information on obtaining a marriage license in Virginia...as well as hand-outs reiterating all the main points we go over during our meeting, such as the Traditional Order of Ceremony and Unity Ritual suggestions.
Just the two of you is otherwise known as an Elopement. A Micro Wedding is planned in advance and will probably include some guests — although any headcount over 15 max is not a Micro Wedding. There is also no Bridal Party, except for perhaps a Best Man and Maid of Honor. What does not conform to the definition of a Micro Wedding is if there are two or more of the following: A professional florist, Juilliard-trained string-instrument musicians, uniformed catering staff, two shiny black shuttle buses depositing guests at the wedding venue, (or just that fact that it's at a wedding venue), and my P.A. system is required for the dozens of guests to properly hear what's being said. (Yes, I have been hoodwinked into charging a micro-wedding fee for a real-live wedding that truly needed to have had a Rehearsal instead of what happened in lieu of that omission.)
My lesser fee (than for a full-scale wedding) reflects that neither an Elopement or Micro Wedding requires a Rehearsal, and there is no formal Processional. Typically, if there is music, it's downloaded onto a cellphone. Although my fee does include a second meeting at your request, perhaps even at the Venue if nearby ... to familiarize ourselves with the layout, etc. This is more of a complimentary service I am happy to provide.
Most couples wishing for an Elopement or Micro Wedding take advantage of an "off-the-shelf" ceremony originally pre-written by me, called a Short-and-Sweet, There is no Couple Questionnaire to fill out. However, the three of us do have a wide-ranging face-to-face virtual or in-person meeting to talk about such things as how you met, how you feel about certain language, what you believe about marriage and how the universe brought you together ... as well as the details of your wedding. I then, through osmosis, customize the pre-written ceremony based on these larger themes as we've discussed. So the ceremony is personalized — and in fact, this abbreviated process is what many Wedding Officiants mean when they say "personalized," for which they charge top dollar.
Alternatively, I have constructed completely custom-crafted ceremonies for two people eloping. This truly personalized ceremony most importantly includes the Bride and Groom's "Love Story" in all its splendor. Because as I say, the "Celebrant Address," or "Love Story," is a literary record of the couple's love affair ... to be excavated and cherished by future generations in their lineage. I like to think that I am painting a verbal portrait as an heirloom, so that one day, the couple's adult children or grandchildren will happen upon the Keepsake Ceremony. And these adult progeny will get a good laugh, but more importantly, an insightful understanding into the two old people whom they've loved since birth, or else of whom they've only heard legendary family stories. (Obviously, the "lesser" fee for this gets jacked up but not to a full-scale level. That said, writing a completely custom "Love Story" is also dependent on the availability of my time ... as a truly bespoke ceremony takes me roughly 20 hours to write.)
If you like, I email you handouts for writing your own wedding vows or how to obtain a marriage license in Virginia. I really do everything in my power to help you and assure your small wedding ceremony is perfect ... all you hoped for. I will even get involved in the planning aspect if you let me. But unless you specifically ask, the lesser fee doesn't include my mailing a Keepsake Ceremony neither the decorative Certificate of Marriage provided by the Courthouse (but which I have jazzed up).
No matter the circumstances, I am always happy to officiate Elopements and Micro Weddings. There is something very special about the intimacy, and I get to travel to the most scenic, out-of-the way places and cabins. An Elopement or Micro Wedding is the same momentous occasion. Those vows you speak are just as sacred and sink down just as deeply no matter how “planned” or "big" your wedding is, or on what day of the week you marry. By the bye, in Virginia, you may wed on the same day you obtain your marriage license.
I am doubtful the cheapest Wedding Officiant you’ll find, but I am a bargain. For the amount of time, expertise, creativity and thought, commitment, travel, unlimited availability, in-person consultation, writing talent, solid support.... And to top it off, I have the credentials to actually marry you.
All tolled, writing your ceremony alone will involve approximately 20 hours to custom craft. Another 10 to 15 hours revising, emailing, liaisoning, the Rehearsal, making Cue Sheets, traveling to your venue two days running, arriving at your ceremony early, setting up, delivering the Keepsake Ceremony. Oh yes, I also sign, make copies, stamp and mail your Marriage License the next business day.
Admittedly, this is the joy of my life, and I have fun doing it. But still, I must charge a minimal rate that makes it legit to drop everything else I could or should be doing. (Thank you, though, for getting me out of the “should” part, like lifting weights.)
I know a few other Wedding Officiants may seem to you like a deal. But I’ve noticed, too, that some nickel and dime you. For instance, attending your Rehearsal is included in my price. So is either helping you write your Wedding Vows or writing them for you. So is providing my portable P.A. system if you're not hiring a D.J. (Rental of P.A. equipment can price out at $250 alone.) It doesn’t matter how many people are numbered in your bridal party, either.
I charge you a flat fee, and then I do everything in my being to earn my way by giving you a premium ceremony experience.
As it's been said, "If you think hiring a professional is expensive, you ought to try hiring an amateur." (And better hope they even show up.)
Please contact me for an exact dollar figure. After all this exposition, you might be surprised how cheap, I mean priceless, my services are...especially for making your ceremony the real centerpiece of your wedding day, and by which it will be remembered in years to come.
Studded along life’s journey are turning points that call for our reverent attention. To notice and mark in a way that honors. These transitions are sacred if for no other reason than they are what make us human, capable of change and progress.
We all know the big ones — weddings and funerals. But what about the birth of a baby, the death of a pet or the reason for entering a new insurance bracket, whether related to health, break-up, job — reaching a hallmark age signified by acquiring a driver’s license or an AARP card?
Any number of lifetime events call for ceremony to close the circle...so renewal can happen, a new stage begin. This is how I chose an Ouroboros as my logo, because a snake is often a symbol for rising again — as it appears to be continually reborn by shedding its skin.
Whatever milestone you wish to observe, I will officiate. Together we’ll come up with ritual elements for symbolizing what it is your heart longs to express. This is the idea of divergent: thinking outside the box. Re-imagining the story of our lives in which we are the central agents of change, acting from our creative spark.
Some ideas for divergent ceremonies are:
Yes! Of course. This is almost my entire purpose and object of my training as a Life-Cycle Celebrant and Wedding Officiant...to blend traditions, faith backgrounds, heritages into one seamless, flowing inclusive ceremony that is a celebration of your love.
My very first wedding was between an atheist Groom and Jewish Bride under a chuppah, so.... I performed another wedding for an Eastern European Catholic with a lot of mystical Gypsy in her, who rode into the ceremony on her horse. In that ceremony, there was a Mother Mary rosary ritual, Native American smudging, Circle Casting, Medieval Handfasting, Calling to the Four Directions....
I've also written and performed a modified Hindu wedding ceremony between an Indian Bride and Presbyterian Groom (both doctors). My next wedding, as I write, is between a Filipina Bride and Jamaica-born Groom at Raven's Roost Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though I think they've nixed the idea to ride up on their motorcycles.
This is where my love of research is key. Not only that, I belong to the Alumni Association of the Celebrant Institute. There's a member library for researching different rituals. But it's our Facebook page that's a real boon. I can put out a post asking for ideas or quotes, or anything. Almost immediately, the great experienced minds of my fellow certified Celebrants are offering me suggestions, advice, guidance. So I have the resources to write to any combination of faith traditions and wedding customs.
Honestly though...we, you and me, either create or modify our own wedding rituals, which are organic to your personal beliefs. Recently a Bride and I came up with an idea for a Time Capsule ritual. I think the Brides are going to put their self-written Vows in it to be opened in 10 years.
Anything goes, really. My creativity, adaptability and responsiveness (in more ways than one) are what you're paying for, quite frankly.
Ritual, rites of passage, ceremony...it’s in our human DNA to want to observe and celebrate major life transitions. The Church used to be the place for this, but not so much anymore — especially true with adults under age 32, a third of whom are unaffiliated. Yet If we don’t mark these momentous turning points, a feeling that something’s missing can creep in, a psychic drip drip drip that — not to be overly dramatic — that may never get patched or even acknowledged.
I’m here to fill the breach, helping you to define lifetime milestones in your own symbolic language, your own way...with celebration and song. I find it an incredible privilege and gift that I am called to be your Assistant Mythologist.
A word about Vow Renewals
What a tribute to your enduring commitment, the joys and tears you’ve shared, that you want do your vows all over again. We can craft a ceremony that celebrates the twists and turns along the road that have brought you to this sunny juncture — with the same ritual elements of readings, symbols, and music that compose a wedding, only updated.