Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart: Wedding Officiant Listed in The Knot's HALL OF FAME

Wedding Ceremony FAQs


Virtual Weddings

Virtual Weddings can be as simple and affordable or as "high-end" as you choose. I work with a Zoom platform but if you are looking for something more elaborate, you may want to hire a professional "remote event company" such as Moonlight Studios, https://moonlightstudioschicago.com/livestream-studio/ 

Wedding Photography Packages

This option is for very small weddings only. If you have booked me as your Officiant and would like professional portraits before or after your ceremony, or candids during your reception, I'm available! $200 per hour for the first hour and $100 per hour after that; minimum of 1.5 hours. Package includes all images, high res, color-corrected and cropped as needed, delivered on a flash drive or DVD within a month of your wedding. Private online proofing and professional print ordering available. Oh, and I also offer engagement photography; rates depend upon the number of locations involved and their distance from downtown Chicago. Please ask for a quote!

Visit https://www.artfulphotographer.com to see the quality of my work!

Wedding Rehearsals

There is no charge for rehearsals conducted 1-1.5 hours before the ceremony on any day of the week. Rehearsals held  the day before your wedding, Monday-Thursday, are $100, plus travel costs/ parking fees, if any. Rehearsals held the day before your wedding on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are $150, plus travel costs/ parking fees, if any.

Bilingual Weddings (English/Spanish/German)

Antonio Illescas is a Chicago-area high school teacher and talented interpreter.  He has an extensive background in languages, including Spanish, his first language, and German. With a Bachelor's degree in German with a Spanish endorsement from NIU, as well as a Master's in Education from Concordia University, he is currently in the process of obtaining a Master's degree in Spanish Education from the University of Nebraska. He has also studied and lived abroad in Germany, Mexico, and Spain.

Fee for translating "live" during the ceremony, in tandem with my officiating: $100.00.  

Fees for translating the script into a formal document, for attending the rehearsal, for travel and parking would be extra.

Travel Fees

Most of my Wedding Officiating is in the Chicago area. However, as more and more couples are choosing  natural spots for outdoor weddings, I am spending more time "behind the wheel" than ever before -- sometimes as long as 4 hours per wedding, in heavy traffic conditions! Travel within a 10 mile radius of downtown Chicago (starting point, The Art Institute) is included in my fee; travel beyond 10 miles will be billed at $1.50 per mile, both directions. For example, if the ceremony is to be held in Kildeer, IL and the distance from The Art Institute to the venue is 39 miles, my travel fee would be based on 58 miles (having subtracted 10 miles in each direction):  $87.00. Travel 100 miles beyond Chicago needs to be discussed on a case by case basis. 

The Marriage License

Please note that you are responsible for procuring your Marriage License at least 24 hours before the ceremony and no more than 60 days before  your wedding; the license must be for the state and county in which you are getting married. For example, if  your ceremony is to be held in  Chicago, you need a license for Cook County.   http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/Pages/default.aspx 

 I also officiate in other counties and states which have their own requirements. If you do not present your license before the ceremony, I cannot legally officiate!  

The Marriage Certificate

Within 2-3 days of your wedding, I will send you a signed, scanned copy of your Marriage License and the tracking number for certified USPS  mail (with return receipt). After about 10 days, you will be able to order copies of your Marriage Certificate; this is the legal document on file in the County which proves you are actually married!


Wedding Ceremony Planning

Additional Information

Professional Wedding Officiants do more than read the script -- they deliver the experience!

Planning a Wedding is both fun and stressful but what often gets lost in the shuffle is the ceremony! How and where are you going to say the magical words, “I do” and who is going to be the Officiant?

If you leave your wedding ceremony until the last moment, chances are that there will be nothing personal about it; in fact, in all likelihood, it will be the same standard ceremony that your Officiant uses over and over again. The wedding ceremony can and should be the highlight of your Wedding. Your friends and family have not shown up simply to party but to witness your public commitment to one another. Without careful planning, you could end up bored to tears, offended or so rushed that you have no recollection as to what took place.

If you want to avoid a horror story of your own, make your wedding ceremony the heart of the occasion. Decide between yourselves what you are looking for – a traditional religious ceremony, a ceremony that is more spiritual than religious, an inter-faith service, a secular wedding. Ask yourselves whether you want your wedding to be formal or relaxed – of course, the setting will be important here. If you are getting married in a cathedral, the ceremony is going to be very different than if you are getting married on a beach in Hawaii. Consider how much of the ceremony you want to create yourselves – whether you are going to write your own vows, select your readings, incorporate rituals that are meaningful to you. Then find the right Marriage Officiant.

If you are lucky, you will know a professional wedding minister already -- someone you have seen "in action." That failing, there may be a referral that helps – perhaps the venue coordinator or your wedding planner, if you have one, may have some suggestions. You can always browse through wedding sites like WeddingWire.com to see who best fits the type of ceremony you have in mind. Call several of the Wedding Officiants listed; try to get a sense of their style over the phone or else meet with them in person. It is your wedding so screening potential Officiants is important. I do not recommend asking a friend or relative to officiate unless 1) they are experienced Officiants 2) they are licensed to take care of legalities. 

Wedding Officiating involves becoming the ritual leader, one who is capable of dealing with every adversity from non-functioning sound systems to guests knocking over floral arrangements! The Officiant needs to be able to diffuse tension, handle crises and react spontaneously when the unexpected happens. He or she also needs to create a sense of solemnity with a light touch and carefully injected humor. Sadly, a friend or relative may be able to read the script but not to deliver the experience!

Working with your Wedding Officiant, come up with a general plan of the ceremony. What will the Entrance Procession look like? Who is going to give away whom? Will there be any opening rituals, such as the Lighting of the Unity Candle by both sets of parents? What should your Officiant mention in the Opening Comments? What Readings will be included – A scripture passage? A poem? An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran? How personal do you want the Officiant to be in the Address to you as a couple? Are you going to create your own Vows or use Standard Vows? What do you have in mind for the Exchange of Rings Ceremony? Are there any other rituals you wish to incorporate – a Communion Service, Handfasting, The Rose Ceremony, The Blending of Sand, Circling the Table, The Honey Ceremony…. What type of Final Blessing would be appropriate? How do you wish to be introduced to the community at the Wedding Pronouncement?

With an investment of time, care and the right Marriage Officiant, you can create the wedding of your dreams. Don’t settle for anything less!

Learn More

Contact me for a free copy of my E-Booklet, Great Ceremonies for Savvy Couples. This is the book  I use to explain "Ceremony flow" and "Ritual Elements"  when I meet with couples for the first time. It's short and an easy ready, so you may find it useful!