The Knot’s 2017 Wedding Study reported that only 26% of couples hosted their weddings in a “traditional” religious institution. Furthermore, according to PRRI Surveys, 40% of individuals under 30 claim “no religious affiliation.” The current Pennsylvania marriage statute leaves this growing majority of the population who are looking for a ceremony that elegantly blends their family traditions, faiths and story, behind.

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Economic impact of Celebrancy in Pennsylvania

In 2014, 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. Pennsylvania couples are starting to expect the same choice.

The Knot’s 2017 Wedding Study reported that only 26% of couples hosted their weddings in a “traditional” religious institution. Furthermore, according to PRRI Surveys, 40% of individuals under 30 claim “no religious affiliation.” The current Pennsylvania marriage statute leaves this growing majority of the population who are looking for a ceremony that elegantly blends their family traditions, faiths and story, behind. The Knot’s report supports this cultural and consumer shift and identifies that personalization is a top consideration when making wedding purchasing decisions and 64% of couples identify personalization as “the most important consideration.” Civil Celebrants are educated and trained to create and perform personalized ceremonies.

We the undersigned, would agree that this statistic is reflective of our experience in the wedding industry as well. Commonwealth businesses have already adapted their business models and offerings to meet this new norm; but it’s not enough, our couples are often confused about what legal options are available to them when they are filling the role of officiant in their wedding. Philadelphia boasts some of the most beautiful, well-respected and highly sought-after wedding venues and event spaces in the country, the overwhelming majority of which are not houses of worship or courthouses. Additionally, Pennsylvania/Philadelphia continues to be ranked as one of the top 10 regions nationally where people spend the most on their weddings. Trends and expectations in the actual ceremony are rapidly changing too and our laws need to catch up if we want to stay competitive.

The New Jersey law notably recognizes the changing face of family by providing couples of all backgrounds, traditions, cultures and faiths a greater choice in how they want to mark the beginning of their married life together. Equally important, the law also promotes high-standards in ceremony preparation and delivery by requiring celebrants to successfully complete professional education and training in ceremony and ritual to be eligible to register with the State—creating a whole new profession: Civil Celebrant. A similar Celebrancy bill in Pennsylvania would fill an unmet economic and societal need while also modernizing the law.

We are asking for your support and leadership in passing similar legislation here in the Commonwealth to give today’s couples the choices they’ve come to expect with regards to ceremony. We’d love to keep Pennsylvania a top-of-mind and an attractive place for people to get married and host their weddings.

Please see the New Jersey Civil Celebrant Law we’re interested in using as model legislation, the current Pennsylvania marriage statutes for your reference (Yikes!), as well as the spending report from The Knot’s 2017 Wedding Survey.

Sincerely,
Alisa Tongg, Celebrant, Monroe

David Beahm, David Beahm Weddings, Bucks
Danielle Pasternak, DPNAK Events, Bucks
Douglas James, Douglas James Studios, Bucks
Meg McSweeney, Celebrant, Bucks
Brianna Alcorn, terrain events, Chester County
Denise Stearns, Celebrant, Chester
Stephanie Gundy, Celebrant, Dauphin County
Susan Strayer LaMotte, Exaqueo, Delaware County
Haley Richter, Photographer, Delaware County
Sarah McKay, Photographer, Delaware County
Vanessa Kreckel, Two Paper Dolls, Delaware County
Lori Weinrott, Peachtree Catering/Pomme/Parque Ridley Creek, Delaware County
Shannon Wellington, Shannon Wellington Weddings, Delaware County
Natalie Wallace, birdhouse wedding films, Harrisburg
Jacqueline Smith-Bennett, Celebrant, Harrisburg
Rob Lettieri, Rob Lettieri Photography, Lackawanna
Bob Sanchuk, Two Sticks Photography, Lackawanna
Kelly Trapper, Constantino’s Catering, Lackawanna
Danielle Coons, Photography, Lackawanna
Sammi Shea, Sammi Shea Photography, Lackawanna
Kevin Fonash, Fonash Studios, Lackawanna
Linda Berger, Celebrant, Lancaster
Jillian McGrath, With Love & Embers, Lebanon
Ryan McGrath, With Love & Embers, Lebanon
Krista Hurst, The Hursts & Co., Lebanon
Michael Hurst, The Hursts & Co., Lebanon
Sarah Petryk, Allium Floral Events & Styling, Lehigh
Abby Ogden, Fox and Finch Vintage Rentals, Lehigh
Meg Fox, Fox and Finch Studio, Lehigh
Eric Paez, Vault 634, Lehigh
Alicia Smith, ILE Events, Lehigh
Cindie Feldman, 29Cooks, Lehigh
Kevin Feldman, Gather Emmaus Event, Lehigh
Katelynn Walsh, Hair and Makeup Artist, Lehigh
Christina Campbell, Nina Lily Photography, Lehigh
Kristy Rice, Momental Designs, Luzerne
Susan Farrell, Big Top Rentals, Inc., Luzerne
John Phillips, MCR Design Group, Luzerne
Danae Husband, Kindred Souls Photography, Luzerne
Sarah Pawlowski, Flourish Grace Calligraphy, Luzerne
Christopher Souza, Penn Strings, Monroe
Paris Kiriakis , Weddings by Paris Entertainment, Monroe
Eileen Noelle Photography, Monroe
Joy Danielewicz-Britton, Limousines Four Less, Monroe
Todd Britton, Limousines For Less, Monroe
Susie Forrester, Susie Forrester Fine Art Photography, Monroe
Nicole Taylor, Photographer, Monroe
Cynthia Malaran, DJ CherishtheLuv, Monroe
Lois Heckman, Celebrant, Monroe County
Melissa McManus, M2 Photography, Montgomery
Michael McManus, Stagger Films, Montgomery
Leah Gallo, Storybook Designs Co., Montgomery
Susan Stein, Celebrant, Montgomery
Adam Skuba, Skuba Entertainment, Northampton
Ken Jones Jr., Mercantile Home, Northampton
Ron Morris, Mercantile Home, Northampton
Erika Urso, Love Bites By Erika, Northampton
Nicole Hutnyk, Rabbit Rabbit Crew!, Philadelphia
Christopher Nguyen, Feast Your Eyes Catering/ Front & Palmer, Philadelphia
Sara Murray, confetti & co., Philadelphia
Danielle Iannetta, Philadelphia Weddings Magazine/ VP, NACE-Venues, Philadelphia/Camden NJ
Rasa Stirbys Benefico, Birchtree Catering, Philadelphia
Allegra Derengowski, Birchtree Catering, Philadelphia
Mugu Radu, Philadelphia String Quartet, Philadelphia
Tom Harmon, Solidity Films, Philadelphia
Claudia Harmon, Jollifer Floral, Philadelphia
Emily Wren, Emily Wren Photography, Philadelphia
Greg Cornish, Emily Wren Weddings, Philadelphia
Jill Magerman, Celebrant, Philadelphia
Beth Palubinsky, Celebrant, Philadelphia
Linda Newsted, Celebrant, Philadelphia
Aleksandra Ambrozy, Hair and Makeup Artist, Philadelphia
Dustin Genereux, Photograper, Philadelphia
Christy Howton, PaperTree Studio, Philadelphia
Tanti Lina, Papertini Studio, Philadelphia
Jon Homes, Lovesick, Philadelphia
Tom Wright, Lovesick, Philadelphia
Cathie Berrey-Green, BeauMonde Originals, Philadelphia
Allen Green, BeauMonde Originals, Philadelphia
Ashlee Mintz, Photographer, Philadelphia
Heather Sizemore, HLS Photography, Philadelphia
Kelly Giarrocco, Photography, Philadelphia
Alexandria Proko,  Alexandria Catherine Events, Philadelphia
Milanee Long, Garces Group, Philadelphia
Erin Proud, Proud To Plan, Philadelphia
Ashley Aragona, hello, bird, Philadelphia
Denise Weaver, Denise Marie Photography, Philadelphia
Sean Strub, Mayor of Milford/Hotel Fauchere, Pike
Brandon Grimglia, 403 Broad, Pike
Cara Pawlowski, Wedding Coordinator, Pike
Amanda Griffenkranz, Wedding Coordinator, Pike
Jen Haefeli, Poetic Illustrations, Pittsburgh
Laura Portia Brady, Theodora James Inc, Pittsburgh
Sandee Monahan, Celebrant, Pittsburgh
Jessica Manns Photography, Susquehanna
Seneca Lewis, Seneca Ryan Co. Photography, Susquehanna
Justin Genzlinger, Settlers Hospitality, Wayne
Katharine Brown, 6th and River, Wayne
Julie Piazza, Chippy White Table, Wyoming County
Karyn Pashchuk, Chippy White Table, Wyoming County
Cecelia Cronin, Chippy White Table, Wyoming County
Robin Tyler, Celebrant, York
Dorry Bless, Celebrant, Hunterdon County New Jersey
Susan Norcross, The Styled Bride, Gloucester County, NJ