December 28, 2009

Officiate This

In the ongoing effort to personalize and customize and otherw-ize our wedding, 2E’s and I have asked her Uncle Phill to officiate. We initially considered spiritual world guru Sylvia Browne, but Phill was more flexible. And infinitely less creepy.

When we first introduced the idea to Phill, pulling him aside at our engagement party and (in a way) “popping the question,” he seemed a bit stumped. And perplexed. And honored. But, again, perplexed. And rightfully so.

If memory serves me, his initial response was:

“Wow. Can I do that?”

When you’re planning a non-religious ceremony, you really only have two options: (a) make fast friends with the mayor and ask him to officiate, or (b) spring the responsibility on a friend or loved one. But as with Sylvia Browne, we just assumed that Mayor Bloomberg isn't very flexible. And is infinitely more creepy. Phill, on the other hand, has a fantastic presence, a consistently positive aura and a worldly sense of humor. To dislike Phill would mean that you were a generally dislikeable person who chooses to dislike likable people.

Once we had his consent, 2E’s and I knew we had our work cut out for us. (Yes, SOME people may have done some research PRIOR to popping the question but WE are NOT those PEOPLE). Because Phill is not a city clerk or official or justice or notary (gee, thanks Phill), we knew we had to go the clerical route … so we began investigating the ordainment process for New York State, which now has three two basic requirements:

(1)   Officiant must be ordained by an established church
(2)   Officiant must hand over their firstborn child
(3)   Officiant must be registered with the NYC Marriage Bureau

Phill is a Presbyterian by faith, but the Presbyterian Church has strict guidelines for ordainment, i.e. four years in a seminary, two year application process, one year continuing education, etc. And while we respect the Presbysterian Church and its policies and all, 2E’s will likely wise up and leave me before October 2nd, 2018.

A Google search of “getting ordained online” or any similar phrasing leads you to the United Life Church, more commonly known as the ULC. The ULC, headquartered in Modesto, CA, has been ordaining the masses since God knows when. There are no particular qualifications needed to become a minister – you need only fill out the form (online) and pay a nominal fee. Within weeks, your official ordainment certificate arrives in the mail.

Apparently the ULC is an actual, physical church, though the interior of that church is a mystery. It may very well be a middle-aged man in pajamas, sitting in front of a computer and beside a giant pile of money. This too may be the case for the Church of Dude-ism, which – as part of the ordainment certificate package – also presents its newly ordained ministers with a copy of The Big Lebowski or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, alternatively. Sadly, since 2005, New York State has chosen not to honor ordainments presented by the United Life Church. I suppose they were tipped off by their slogan (“Over 1 Million Served”) and the Write-In-Your-Religion line on the certificate.

So we continue our hunt for the ideal online church – one that is lenient in its practices but appears authentic and legitimate and religious. And comes with a free DVD. Preferably Bill and Ted.


  1. I am ordained by Universal Ministries headquarted in Milford, Illinois. It cost me $10 bucks and it was worth every penny just to tell people to call me "Reverend." (I still have not officiated any weddings, but I am thinking of putting up a Criags List ad or do you offer advertising on this Blog??)

  2. Hey Reverend,

    Thanks so much for reading. I do remember pausing at the UM website -- I think I was deterred by the web design -- but I'll take a second look. Thanks for the heads up.

    And yes - I do offer advertising to individuals and businesses. Shoot me an email at and I'll send you some info.

    Cheers - and Happy New Year,