Ray Garrison - Wedding Officiant, Minister

from Lumberton, NCmember since November, 2021
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It should be noted that weddings conducted by individuals who possess "online ordination" accreditation are illegitimate in NC, VA, TN, and certain other states, including Universal Life Church (ULC), American Marriage Ministries (AMM), and others. The NC Court Case: State v. Lynch is still in place, and as recently as October 2018, it was used as a legal precedent to determine that Universal Life Church (and anyone else ordained online -as decided by NC attorneys) ministers are unqualified to legally officiate marriage ceremonies in North Carolina. Having had extensive formal religious education, including seminary, theology, and chaplain training, I am a retired Navy Chaplain/Minister/Episcopal Priest with over 40 years of experience.

My suggestion for couples who want a friend or family member with "online ordination" to conduct their wedding ceremony is to have me perform the legal basic wedding and marriage license paperwork (which I can do for $50 at my home), and then have anyone, regardless of whether they are ordained or not, conduct your wedding "ceremony." Please note that the date of your legal wedding will be the date on which I perform the legal wedding, not the date of the other "ceremony."

I understand that weddings can be stressful, and I always make sure that the couple, their families, and friends are at ease. It is crucial for me to emphasize that it is YOUR day, and the ceremony should be arranged as per your preferences.

I am a retired Navy Chaplain and Ordained Minister who can assist with vows or answer any questions you may have about marriage licenses, vows, or your ceremony. As most couples are active duty, veteran, or retired, I always quote military-friendly rates in the area (you do not need to be military). Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, whether or not I am performing your ceremony. I have conducted ceremonies ranging from non-religious to strictly religious, at venues ranging from the beach to very formal, and I am comfortable in all settings. Sand ceremonies, unity candles, and wine box ceremonies are some of the ceremonies that I have conducted.

NC MARRIAGE LICENSE: Any county in NC can issue a marriage license, which is legitimate throughout the state. The fee for a license is $60, and it is valid for 60 days. There is no waiting period. Both parties need to provide a valid photo ID (driver's license, passport, military ID, etc.) (which does not need to be an NC ID) and their Social Security Card or W-2. The online application can be filled out, which will save you time when you go to pick up your license. In NC, licenses are issued at county Register of Deeds offices.

SC MARRIAGE LICENSE: A marriage license from any county in SC is authentic throughout the state. There is a waiting period of 24 hours between the time you apply for a marriage license and when you can pick it up. Both parties need to present a valid photo ID (driver's license, passport, military ID, etc.) (which does not need to be an SC ID) and their Social Security Card or W-2. In SC, licenses are issued at county Probate Court offices.

This is an overview of a "traditional" wedding, but keep in mind that it is YOUR wedding and can be arranged however you wish. First, I conduct the "giving away of the bride" (if you so desire), eliminating the need to stand to the side until the preacher welcomes and opens the ceremony. I congratulate/shake hands with the person giving you away and then have them place your hand in the groom's hand. This puts the couple holding hands from the beginning and provides excellent photo opportunities. After that, I provide the welcome/opening, followed by the "Declaration of intent" or "I Do's," as they are commonly referred to. You can then utilize vows you have prepared for each other (or traditional vows if you choose). The Blessing/Ring Exchange comes next, followed by the Pronouncement as husband/wife, kissing the bride, and the couple's introduction, if desired. If you opt for a sand ceremony, unity candle, letter, or wine box, it is typically performed after the ring exchange, prior to the pronouncement.

I strongly advise that you exercise caution when it comes to wedding officiants who possess "online ordination" as their credentials since they cannot legally perform weddings in various states and municipalities. Also, unlike other vendors (DJ, photographers, etc.), do NOT pay a wedding officiant in advance, or pay a deposit.

We also offer private weddings (no venue charge) at our historic home in Rowland, NC, for small wedding parties. We have a decorated wedding arbor, and private rooms are available for the bride and groom to get ready. With notice, we can accommodate times outside our regular business hours. Check out photos for inside/outside options.

Sharing your special day with you is always an honor for me, but military weddings, in particular, hold a special place in my heart since most of my life has been spent in, or associated with, the military.

Type of ceremony:

Wedding, Elopement, Commitment ceremony, Vow renewal

Service type (affiliation):

Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Interfaith, Non-denominational (mentions God), Non-religious (no mention of God)

Service location:

Customer location

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Service Reviews


469 reviews

Service as described
Rachel G.
Ray is a fantastic choice as an officiant! He is kind, humorous, reasonably priced, and extremely supportive! He made us feel at ease in his home. Additionally, his booming voice is ideal for wedding ceremonies. You'll never go wrong with Ray as your officiant. We want to express our gratitude to you, Ray. We will always cherish the memory of you and your spouse. Blessings to your family.
January 19, 2023
Megan F.
The wedding surpassed our expectations and there were no grievances whatsoever. We cherished every moment that was filled with laughter, humor, and tears of happiness. Mr. Raymond was exceptionally professional and left no stone unturned in ensuring that this occasion would be the most extraordinary time of our lives. We express our gratitude for an unforgettable experience!!!
October 30, 2022
Anthony S.
Mr. Ray and his lovely spouse were an incredible addition to our special day. They exhibited kindness and patience as we navigated the marriage licensing process and were even kind enough to verify how soon we could procure our marriage certificate as we required it ASAP for military purposes. On the day of our nuptials, they welcomed us into a magnificently set up space for our private ceremony, providing us both with separate rooms to change into our wedding attire. They expertly calmed our nerves and went over everything with us before commencing the ceremony. Mrs. Ray took a video of the ceremony while Mr. Ray officiated skillfully, delivering words that were as beautiful as they were concise. We are profoundly grateful to both of them for going above and beyond to make our special day even more unforgettable. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Mr. Ray and wife, for making our wedding a joyous and exquisite occasion!
May 25, 2022
David H.
Ray went above and beyond to make our day truly unforgettable. We feel incredibly grateful that we chose him to officiate our wedding. Without hesitation, we wholeheartedly endorse Ray to anyone seeking someone who is kind and authentic. Ray, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. x
February 2, 2022
Kayla J.
Despite not having Ray officiate my wedding as the date had to be postponed, I found him to be genuinely kind, invaluable, and informative. He provided me with several options, gave me specific details, and even guided me through the process of obtaining the marriage license. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to collaborate with Ray in the future.
January 1, 2022