Orlando Area Officiant
Orlando Area Officiant
polygon-pattern-copy-750x450.jpg

FAQs

FAQs

 
 
 
Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.
— Ann Landers

Questions?

I have answers!

Some questions regarding the solemnization of marriage may require legal advice. If the following questions and answers do not address your concerns, you may need to seek the advice of an attorney.

Q:

      Does Florida require blood tests prior to the issuance of a marriage license?

A: 

      No.

 Q:

      Does Florida recommend any premarital counseling prior to the issuance of a marriage license?

A:

      Yes. During the 1998 Legislative Session, the Legislature passed the "Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act of 1998" in an effort to strengthen marriages, make stronger families, children and communities, and reduce the divorce rate. See Chapter 98- 403, Laws of Florida. The Act recommends the completion of a premarital preparation course of not less than 4 hours taught by a provider who has been approved by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

      The course may be completed by personal instruction or by video/electronic instruction. Providers must furnish a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course, which should be submitted to the Clerk's Office when applying for a marriage license. For those couples who voluntarily complete this premarital preparation course, the state offers a reduced marriage license fee and no waiting period.

      Additionally, the Legislature has authorized the Family Law Section of The Florida Bar to create a handbook explaining those sections of Florida law pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of marital partners to each other and to their children, both during a marriage and upon dissolution.

      NOTE: For additional information about the premarital preparation course and providers in your area, or the family law handbook, please contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Marriage Division, in your county.

 Q:

      Is there a waiting period for the issuance of the marriage license?

A:

       Yes. Effective January 1, 1999, there is a 3-day delay in the effective date of the marriage license if the couple does not participate in a premarital preparation course meeting the requirements specified in law and whose provider is registered with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Exceptions to the delayed effective date must be granted to non-Florida residents seeking a marriage license from the state and for individuals asserting hardship who have been granted a waiver by a county court judge.

 Q:

       What is the county/state fee for obtaining a marriage license?

A:

       Florida law specifies that the marriage license fee is $88.50. For all couples who complete the premarital preparation course, there is a reduction of $32.50, making the marriage license cost $56.00 for these couples.

 Q:

       Occasionally, when I am scheduled to perform a marriage ceremony, the bride and groom forget to bring their marriage license with them to the ceremony. What should I do in this instance?

A:

       The law states that the official "shall require of the parties a marriage license" before the solemnization of the marriage. That means that you should take possession of the marriage license before you perform the ceremony. Remember, you must also complete your portion and return the Marriage Record to the county for recording. If the couple forgets their marriage license or has not yet obtained a license, you may not solemnize the marriage.

Q:

       May the marriage be solemnized when one party is not physically present, but participates in the ceremony via telephone or video transmission, or when one of the parties is not present and another individual represents that person in the ceremony, i.e., "marriage by proxy"?

A:

       No. Florida law does not allow marriage by proxy. Both parties must be physically present before the officiant for the solemnization of the marriage. The officiant should properly identify both parties prior to the ceremony.

Q:

       My fiancé and I would like to have a special friend who lives in another state come to Florida to perform our marriage ceremony. Would that be acceptable if we have an officiant certified in Florida witness the ceremony and sign the license?

A:

       No. Florida law provides that only certain officials are authorized to solemnize marriage. Your friend may participate in the ceremony, for instance, by providing an inspirational message or prayer; but the vows and pronouncement should be done by an official authorized to solemnize marriage in Florida.

Q:

       When "solemnizing the rites of matrimony," is it acceptable for the officiant to complete the marriage certificate without actually performing a marriage ceremony?

A:

       No. Completing the marriage certificate portion of the Marriage Record is not the same act as performing the marriage ceremony. Actually, the certificate is your way of certifying that you solemnized the marriage. You should not falsely certify that a ceremony was performed when, in fact, one was not.

The ceremony does not have to be in any particular form. Any form of ceremony to solemnize a marriage that the parties choose ordinarily suffices, as long as both parties agree to the marriage and make a legally binding commitment to each other. A marriage ceremony is usually performed for the sake of notoriety and certainty and must be conducted by a person authorized by law to perform the ceremony.

 Q:

      Should I perform a marriage ceremony if it appears that the bride or groom is not mentally capable of understanding his or her actions at the time of the ceremony? What if I suspect that the bride or groom is not a willing party to the marriage? What if one of the parties appears intoxicated or under the influence of some mind/behavior- altering substance?

 A:

        An Officiant is not expected to make a legal determination or a medical evaluation of a person's mental competency; but, you should be use your own common sense to determine that both parties are willing participants and are mentally capable of entering into the marriage at the time of the ceremony. If you have any doubt about the willingness or mental state of either party, you must refuse to solemnize the marriage.

Q:

      May I solemnize the marriage of a couple when one of the parties is under the age of 18?

A:

      Yes, providing the couple produces a valid Florida marriage license signed and sealed by the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and providing that you have no reason to suspect that the marriage license was obtained by fraud. If either or both parties are minors, parental consent is required. It is the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide the proper documentation to the Clerk's Office when they apply for the marriage license.

Q:

      Are witnesses required to sign the marriage certificate?

A:

       Although the marriage certificate has spaces for two witnesses to sign, witnesses are not specifically required by law. However, it is recommended that two witnesses, other than the officiant, sign the marriage certificate in the event that proof of the marriage ceremony is necessary in the future. Remember, though, you are not notarizing the signatures of the witnesses.

 Q:

       May I perform a marriage ceremony in a different county than the one where the marriage license was issued?

A:

    Yes. A Florida marriage license is good in any county in Florida. However, after the marriage is solemnized, the license must be returned to the county that issued it for recording.

 Q:

      May I perform a marriage ceremony while aboard a ship?

A:

     Yes - as long as the ship is in Florida waters at the time of the ceremony. The legal definition of "Florida waters" is somewhat complex, but is generally stated as three geographic miles from the coastline seaward on the Atlantic Ocean and nine geographic miles from the coastline seaward on the Gulf of Mexico. Determining the exact location of the ship is best left to the captain or someone qualified to make that judgment.

 Many cruise ships prefer to conduct marriage ceremonies while safely docked in a Florida port. Then, the wedding party enjoys celebrating after the ship sails. Whether on a cruise ship or a private vessel, you should ensure that you are in Florida waters at the time of the marriage ceremony.