Justice of the Peace or Officiant? Sorting Out the Difference in South Florida
May 27, 2023
In South Florida, couples planning to get married are often faced with a difficult decision: should they choose a Justice of the Peace or an Officiant for their wedding? To help understand the differences between the two, let’s start with the basics.
A Justice of the Peace (JP) is someone who is appointed by the state and has the authority to marry couples in the state. A JP is typically an official public servant or volunteer, such as a mayor, attorney, or notary public, who has taken an oath of office to perform the duties of a JP. In South Florida, JPs have the authority to perform marriages in any county, and the Florida constitution requires that JPs have the authority to do so.
An Officiant is a person who is authorized to legally solemnize a marriage or civil union in South Florida. An Officiant can be a religious leader, such as a priest, minister, rabbi, or imam, or a non-religious leader, such as a secular celebrant. Unlike a JP, an Officiant does not have the authority to perform marriages in all counties, and the individual must be authorized to perform the marriage ceremony in the particular county where the wedding will take place.
So, what are the differences between the two? The most important difference is that JPs have the authority to perform marriages in all counties in South Florida, while Officiants are limited to the county in which they are authorized to perform the marriage ceremony. Additionally, JPs are typically public servants or volunteers, whereas Officiants are typically religious leaders or secular celebrants.
Another difference is the type of ceremony. JP ceremonies are typically brief and require little to no preparation on the part of the couple. On the other hand, Officiant ceremonies are often more involved and require more preparation. For example, a religious leader may require the couple to attend pre-marital counseling, and a secular celebrant may require the couple to write their own vows.
The main benefit of hiring a JP is that they are typically less expensive than Officiants and require less preparation on the part of the couple. However, if you are looking for a more personalized ceremony and are willing and able to invest the time and money, an Officiant may be a better choice.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to hire a Justice of the Peace or an Officiant comes down to the individual couple's needs and budget. As long as the couple is legally married, the choice is entirely up to them.