As a fellow wedding industry professional serving Pennsylvania, I know that our current marriage laws are often a source for confusion and uncertainty for our wedding clients. According to The Knot’s 2017 Wedding Survey, only 26% of couples chose to be married in a “traditional” religious institution. For those of us in the Pennsylvania wedding industry, we see first hand how quickly the culture and expectations surrounding weddings is changing.

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I’ve taken on a huge task for 2019–to get the marriage laws updated here in Pennsylvania, and I need your help to do it!

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Danielle Coons Photography of the first marriage license to be signed on the famous Chippy White Table

As a fellow wedding industry professional serving Pennsylvania, I know that our current marriage laws are often a source for confusion and uncertainty for our wedding clients. According to The Knot’s 2017 Wedding Survey, only 26% of couples chose to be married in a “traditional” religious institution. For those of us in the Pennsylvania wedding industry, we see first hand how quickly the culture and expectations surrounding weddings is changing. This growing trend toward personalization and a more sophisticated consumer, has not only inspired a lot of creativity in what businesses offer (wedding venues, film, pizza trucks, music and entertainment); the styles of gatherings that are desired has also expanded (elopements and microweddings); and in a very short time, we’ve seen the market accept new traditions and expectations too (for example a First Look is now common place where as, 15 years ago it was still considered bad luck.) Trends and expectations in the actual ceremony are also rapidly changing too and our laws need to catch up. 

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Danielle Coons Photography

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Love Shack Photography

In that same survey, 64% of marrying couples said that, “personalization was the most important consideration” when making decisions and planning their wedding. A couple years ago, New Jersey passed a bi-partisan economic Civil Celebrant Law R.S.37:1-13 amending their marriage and civil unions statutes to expand their list of who is authorized to solemnize marriages in the state. Along with judges, mayors and clergy they added a new category of people professionally trained to create and perform ceremonies–Civil Celebrants. Civil Celebrants are formally educated and certified to perform personal ceremonies for people from all backgrounds, cultures, traditions, and faiths.

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Due to the tremendous success of the addition of Civil Celebrants to the New Jersey code, (and the highly anticipated adoption of this law in New York State this year) I have volunteered to lead the effort in updating and modernizing the marriage laws here in Pennsylvania. I want Pennsylvania to continue to be competitive in the wedding industry and adopting a version of this law will codify and give our clients what they are desiring the most when planning their weddings: a personalized ceremony that elegantly blends their family traditions, faiths and story.

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Nina Lily Photography

I need your help to do this. My first step in the process is to contact and introduce this benchmark legislation to our Pennsylvania Senators and Representatives (who will need to champion the initiative to update our laws). My plan is to send a letter of introduction to our representatives and have it signed not only by other celebrants like myself, but by a coalition of other professionals invested in the wedding industry here in Pennsylvania. We’re all used to working together to give our couples and their families the weddings they dream about, and I hope you will join me in this effort.

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TLDR; Join my wedding industry coalition by adding your name to the letter to our PA Representatives. It’s time to modernize our marriage laws!

Please let me know by sending me an email alisa@alisatonggcelebrant.com by February 22nd, if you would like to add your name to the letter I am preparing to send to our representatives and in which county you/your business resides.

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Alisa Tongg, Celebrant
www.alisatonggcelebrant.com
570-369-3955
alisa@alisatonggcelebrant.com