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What you need to know

How Evan will help you achieve your goals
Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony Process
Process for Your Ceremony

  • 01. First Meeting
    • Using the Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide as a discussion template, we meet (preferably in-person) to discuss your beliefs and what you think is important in your relationship, your family, and your desires for your wedding ceremony. Together, we will make the ceremony that represents you. Financial arrangements will also be discussed. Based on this discussion, the Couple will decide if they want to engage Evan as their wedding officiant/minister.
  • 02. First Ceremony Draft
    • If you decide to proceed working with me, I will draft your wedding ceremony based on the discussion at the first meeting.
  • 03. Intentions/Vows
    • After the first meeting, the couple usually has homework to do: writing or editing your wedding intentions/vows. This sometimes means starting from scratch, but often also takes the form of discussing or editing sample intentions/vows that I have drafted for you.
  • 04. Second Meeting (optional)
    • Usually a second meeting is required to fine-tune the first draft of your ceremony. Depending on the level of discussion needed, this meeting is held either in-person or over the phone. At this meeting, you agree to the final content of your ceremony.
    • Prior to finalizing the ceremony, Evan will need
      • your final intentions/vows
      • a favorite photograph of you together (.jpg)
      • your legal names as they appear on your marriage license
  • 05. License
    • If you are having a legally-recognized wedding ceremony, obtain a marriage license at your local county clerk's office, or the county clerk's office in the county where the ceremony is going to be held, depending on the type of wedding license. Bring the license to Evan at the rehearsal or ceremony. Evan (and witness, depending on type of license) signs the license after the ceremony and will return it to the county clerk. I will send a copy of the signed license to you.
  • 06. Rehearsal (optional)
    • Some couples elect to hold a wedding rehearsal, usually the evening before the ceremony. This is usually done to practice and coordinate with others in the wedding party.
  • 07. Ceremony
    • Your ceremony will be lovely. Evan will arrive about 40 minutes prior to the start time. Weddings (these days) usually begin about 10-15 minutes late because of late-arriving guests. You will find it convenient if a member of the wedding party or an on-site coordinator is available to help with logistics and details- so you can relax. Please pay Evan prior to or just after the ceremony. Immediately after the ceremony, Evan (and witness(es)) will sign the marriage license. I will provide you with a commemorative copy of the ceremony in a binder. I will stay around for a time to greet guests and answer any questions about your ceremony which may arise. Usually, among the photos taken, there is one of Evan with the Couple.
  • 08. After the Big Day
    • Evan will file your marriage license and send a copy to you. I welcome your review or comments on Yelp under Religious Organizations.

Planning Guide
California Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide

Written by Gil Fronsdal and adapted by Evan Kavanagh


  • Can include music, flower bearers and flower scattering
  • Are there important friends or family members who enter before or with the couple?


  • The altar can represent the couple's spiritual values (Buddha, Dharma, Nature, God, Creation, etc.)


  • Officiant welcomes everyone and talks about why everyone is gathered. This might be the time for a talk on marriage/commitment and the role of the community in supporting their partnership

Short meditation or period of silence

  • Perhaps having people reflect on their wishes and feelings for the couple being joined. Or perhaps doing loving-kindness/metta meditation

Refuges and Precepts

  • These are usually done in a Buddhist ceremony- repeated after the officiant. Some couples will re-write the refuges and precepts in their own language. When something close to the traditional refuges and precepts are used, this is the heart of what makes the ceremony Buddhist
  • In a wider sense, this part of the ceremony can be a statement of how the couple intends to live their lives spiritually- by what values

Poetry and song

  • Offered by one or both people being married, and/or by friends and family
  • This is one way to involve loved ones in the ceremony

Exchange of vows and rings

  • Alternatives or additions to exchanging rings could be exchanging malas (Buddhist prayer beads) or Tibetan blessing scarves.
  • There are many different opportunities here to make commitments or undertake the Buddhist Precepts together
  • Could include statement of undertaking to use relationship as practice to reveal the underlying spiritual qualities of life together

Pronouncement of union

  • Officiant pronounces partnership


  • Blessings or well wishes from family and friends
  • Another opportunity to include community and family
  • Might include asking people who have something in their relationship you admire to offer that quality to you as a blessing

Blessing from officiant

  • This may include short metta meditation, sprinkling with holy water, blessing cord, etc.
  • Other possible elements: chanting, ringing of bells, noisemakers, prayer flags for everyone, etc.


  • Provides a concrete ending to the ceremony – especially important if reception is being held in same location
  • It is often a good idea to have the couple exit before the guests and, if it is going to be a legal wedding, to immediately go to a private location with witnesses to sign the marriage license (which the couple provides). It could be hard to gather people together and the signing is more anti-climatic later.

Let's talk

I would love to hear from you!