MODULE TWO: PREREQUISITES
PAPERWORK AND LEGAL STUFF
First things first, are you ordained? This should probably go without saying, so this will be brief, but you need to be ordained with The Church of the Latter-day Dude to be certified as a Dudeist officiant. All are welcome to take this course and use the resources available, but to earn the certificate from us, you need to be an ordained Dudeist. Ordination is easy and you get to be part of one of the chilliest most supportive communities out there. Simply head over to the ordination page for Dudeism and fill out the form.
We now look at who is legally allowed to solemnize a wedding. The legalities for officiating a wedding vary from place to place. For instance, NYC requires hand signed documents and counties in NV require notarized documents from the church. Whereas in many states simply being ordained is enough. Meanwhile, at the time of this writing, North Carolina is aggressively hostile toward online ordinations for wedding officiants and is not being very chill about it.
It is important to follow the legal requirements for officiating a wedding, the couple being married is counting on you, the officiant, to keep it legal and legit. As the officiant it is up to you to make sure it is all legal and conforms to the standards of the location of the ceremony. This is why we always suggest talking to the town/city clerk’s office where the wedding is to take place. Even before agreeing to perform any wedding as an officiant, one should have a basic idea of how the marriage laws work in your area. A simple Google search for the state laws should be enough to give you an idea if you will be able to officiate a wedding and what documents you will need.
Generally, a Dudeist officiant will need a certificate of ordination and/or a letter of good standing, both easily attainable from the Dudeism store. However, be aware that some locals may require different documentation from the church. There are a few states that may not even consider a wedding performed by a Dudeist officiant to be valid. Understand the laws where you plan to perform the wedding before moving to the next steps in the process.
Bear in mind that state and local laws can change quickly, so check every time you are planning to officiate a wedding. It is very important that you understand that you are responsible for satisfying the law here, do not lay this on the doorstep of the betrothed. You are representing yourself and the church, do your best to get it right. If you have questions about the law, ask the town clerk. If you have questions about documents needed, you can write to the church. If you need specialized documents for NYC or NV they available at Dudeism Store Special Orders. Beyond paperwork there is one more thing you will need for the wedding, a couple of people not getting hitched who can attest to witnessing the union.
Even the most minimalist wedding must include more than just the officiant and the betrothed, it is common and often required that there be witnesses present at any wedding ceremony. The smallest wedding would include the hopefuls, the officiant, and at least two witnesses.
Nearly every state or local requires at least two witnesses, be sure to check the requirements where the wedding is to take place for more information. Witnesses have the easiest job out of all those involved in legitimizing a wedding. Their job is simply to witness, as the name implies, they are there to witness the ceremony and the signing of the marriage license. Once they sign the marriage license their job is done.
Any person who can legally sign can be a witness. Often the bride’s maid and best man fill this role, but it is not limited to members of the wedding party. It can be friends or family members, and in a pinch a willing stranger with a western flair. So long as two people can legally attest to witnessing this joyous event.
This is a simple part of the proceeding, but a crucial one in many places. It is the last act of the officiant to complete after the ceremony ends. Be keen to fulfil this duty, be mindful to get everyone’s signature on the license before everyone leaves. Remind the couple of this requirement, if need be, your job is not done until these important papers are handled correctly.
Depending upon how successful this course is we hope to have a comprehensive list of state laws in the future. Be sure to check back here for any updates we make to this in the future, it is quite fluid how fast these laws can change.
You don’t officiate dressed like that, on wedding day?
Think about what you will wear to the ceremony. The things to remember are, dress for the part, try and match the style and tone of the wedding. Do not upstage the hopeful couple, don’t be that guy who steals the limelight from them on their day. Make it your own Dudeist style, but be mindful of how all the threads tie a wedding together, including the ones on your back.
MEET THE BETROTHED
When you are called upon to officiate a wedding it is important to meet with the parties hoping to get hitched, prior to accepting the gig. The first thing you want to do is assure yourself that there is no funny business and those involved are acting in good faith. Explain how the officiating process works and what you can bring to the ceremony in terms of tone and theme. Be ready to spend some time listening to the hopefuls’ wishes for what their dream ceremony would look like and work out how much of that you can deliver on.
Be sure that there is nothing illegal or unethical going on. This is your first chance to make sure you are not caught in any scams or plots. We will be discussing the ethics a little later in the course but remain mindful that there can be the occasional ethical dilemma to watch out for.
Once you are certain there is nothing illegal or unethical start to explain how the process works from both a legal standpoint and how Dudeism may inform and shape the sort of ceremony you can provide. Be clear about our non-theistic philosophy, don’t mislead people into thinking they are getting one sort of officiant but then you unexpectedly show up with the Bible or Koran in your hand. Be confident that they have a basic idea of what Dudeism is and how it can relate to their ceremony.
Think about the betrothed, who they are and what they dig, wedding ceremonies come in almost as many variations as the people who attend them. Find out what sort of wedding the couple is looking for. A large ceremony that they will expect a lot of oration and ceremonial pomp, or a quick and easy “do you? And do you? Cool, ya’ll are married now, sign here.” There will be more on how to plan the actual ceremony later, this is just a reminder to make sure you discuss this during your first meetings with the betrothed. If you are familiar with the materials that follow in this course, you will be able to start visualizing the sort of ceremony you will be presiding over. Still, remember this is not about you, this is their big day, work towards making it one of the most groovy and enjoyable days of their lives.
It is that special time in every coouple’s life…
When approached to solemnize a wedding, the first thing one must ask is, is the proposed union ethical? We are not talking about sex or gender when it comes to whether a marriage is ethical. However, we are keen on avoiding marriages where one or both parties are not generally eligible to enter into other legal contracts, such as underaged or other limiting factors. Most importantly Dudeists should not solemnize weddings where coercion and violence are involved, we cannot abide by that.
Whereas many of the common religions spend a lot of time telling people who can have zesty affairs with whom, based on gender or sexuality. We are more focused on an ethical hedonism sort of ethics here. In Dudeism we are not concerned with gender or sexual orientation, we are concerned with how each party treats the other, and if they share a true affectionate connection. If, when meeting the hopeful couple, you sense that they are truly happy together, and their union would likely lead to greater experienced happiness in this world, then go for it, man!
There is no moral or ethical barrier for any Dudeist to solemnize a marriage between adults who can legally consent to being hitched, regardless of how they express themselves, sexually or otherwise. We are totally cool with gender affirming and same sex marriages. Ultimately, we hope everyone gets to find the venue they are looking for.
We do, of course, draw the line at minors, if a person is too young to legally sign a contract, then they are not likely to be mature enough to enter into a matrimonial contract either. In places where the age of consent is lower than 18 use your best judgement. We are not opening a debate about what the legal age should be, but we do recognize that humans take a long time to mature. It is difficult for us to imagine a marriage involving anyone under 18 to be ethical, so probably best to avoid that. C’mon, under eighteen-year-olds, Dude?
The practicing Dudeist should also avoid officiating weddings for the incapacitated or those not equipped to make such life choices, such as people in comas or with substantial learning disabilities. This is a tricky one, there may be cases of impaired persons seeking legitimate weddings services, some of us have seen people with Down Syndrome getting hitched and having wonderful relationships. It is also not beyond imagination that sometimes a partner may want to honor the wishes of their betrothed after some sort of serious accident and fulfill an already arranged wedding before anything else tragic happens. These are not one size fits all situations, but very rare, in general avoid such gigs, unless there is truly some profound and otherwise ethical reason to proceed. There is some wiggle room here, but in cases of coercion there is no room for debate.
Marriages that are coercive or violent and involving a non-consenting party are the sort of marriages we have the biggest problems with. Under no circumstance should a Dudeist priest solemnize a wedding that is based on force or violence. If you sense any kind of force or pressure on one of the parties by the other, stop, consider carefully, and make the correct call. Be sure of what you perceive and take any appropriate actions. You may be mistaken, so do not act rashly. However, if there is some seriously un-dude activity going on, maybe inform the cops, man. Do not allow the figurative waiving of a gun on the lanes to cause someone grievous harm if you can help it.
Dudeist officiants should always stay mindful of the ethics involved in solemnizing weddings. Rely on the philosophy and reasonable local laws to help guide you. It can be a very complicated case, so stay limber in your thinking. A lot of ins and outs, proceed with caution, man.
WHAT DOES DUDEISM SAY ABOUT SEX AND SEXUALITY
REVEIW AND KEY POINTS
You need to be ordained and follow the legal requirements for officiating a wedding.
Talk to the town/city clerk’s office where the wedding is to take place, every time.
You may need a certificate of ordination and/or a letter of good standing, be aware that some locals may require different documentation.
Be sure that there is nothing illegal or unethical going on, Dudeists should not solemnize weddings where coercion and violence are involved.
Remember are totally cool with gender affirming and same sex marriages.