Monday, October 17, 2011

Selecting a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts

I really wasn’t looking forward to trying to find a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts.  I hate calling people.  There’s no price shopping.  I feel like there’s this pressure to “find someone you click with.”  Really?  I’m hiring a stranger to talk for 20 minutes.  How am I going to find out if I “click with him?”  I know they do consultations to “get to know the couple.”  But I’ll be on my own until January so it’s all on me to make small talk with a Massachusetts marriage officiant over coffee or whatever.  Ugh.

But it had to be done, so I started in.  The first Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts I called had a really impressive looking website.  I mean, that doesn’t mean he’s a great speaker, it just means he invested in a good webmaster, I’m thinking.  But still, it shows some commitment to the profession.  And it helped me learn a lot about what to expect from him.  It said he doesn’t charge extra fees other than a rehearsal, which I don’t feel like I need.  And the website details how he will direct guests and other professionals (such as cueing the musicians and helping the photographer if I so choose).  He even said he’s willing to videoconference for long distance couples!  This guy sounded like he’s just what Adam and I need in a justice of peace for our wedding ceremony.

So my plan was to call, ask about his availability for my day, explain that I had my program completed (though I’m open to suggestions) and secretly assess his voice!  I mean, other than being licensed to make our marriage ceremony legal, the second most important thing to consider, I’m thinking, is is this a voice people are going to be able to take for 20 minutes nonstop?  I wanted a wedding officiate who was articulate, had a nice tone, and sounded at somewhat animated.

That first Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts I called was Rick Perry.  (No, not the governor from Texas and vice presidential candidate.)  He told me, “Let me tell you a little bit about the process and then I’d be happy to answer your questions.”  Right away I was impressed with his professionalism.  He took charge, yet was prepared to listen as well.  He agreed to look over my wedding program and said he would check his Email tomorrow.  I was pretty satisfied, and sent it along before calling the next guy.

The second JP told me he charges $200 for a ceremony, and that includes a consultation.  He seemed, well, a little bored.  I just wasn’t impressed.  And I thought requiring a consultation in the price was shady way of getting around the legal fee he could charge for the ceremony.  He was a no.

The third guy’s phone was disconnected and the fourth guy wasn’t home.

The fifth Massachusetts wedding officiant, John Ford out of Peabody, was also pretty impressive.  I really liked his voice.  He was also willing to use my program, didn't charge extra fees and agreed I didn't really need a rehearsal.  And when I told him we’d have about 15 people for the ceremony and it would be seated and formal, just small, he said, “That sounds right up my alley.”  So I liked him just fine too.  I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to choose for my wedding ceremony.

But then that night, Perry Emailed me back to say my program looks great.  Except it was missing one thing, which legally needed to be in there, haha.  Well, I was pretty much sold on this guy by this point.  Not only did he get back to me within a few hours, sooner than he had said, he had something positive to say about the work I did, AND he let me know in a straightforward way what was required.

After a few days of phone tag I let him know he’s hired and he’s sending me a contract, yay : )  I’ve got myself a Justice of the Peace for my wedding: Check one more thing off the to do list! 

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