We worked with a lot of great vendors on our wedding day, but Maria was the best.
— Claire + Mike, The 1774 Inn, Phippsburg, Maine

frequently asked questions

A:  I’m a wedding officiant in Maine. I’m a notary public not a minister or a Justice of the Peace, so if you’re looking for a secular, meaningful but non-religious ceremony officiant, you got one! You can read about my approach to wedding ceremonies. 

Q: Who is Maria Northcott of A Sweet Start? 

Q: How should we choose our wedding officiant?

A: Choosing a wedding officiant is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your wedding. That one person will be the facilitator of your marriage, that’s a big deal. Here are 10 things to consider when choosing a wedding officiant and 5 questions to ask your officiant before you hire them.

A: Actually, Maine doesn’t have justices of the peace anymore. The state merged the duties of a Justice of the Peace with that of a Notary Public in the 1980’s. So, I am not a justice of the peace, but I am a notary public, which gives me the authority to perform wedding ceremonies in Maine. 

Q: Are you a justice of the peace? 

Q: How do we apply for our Maine marriage license? 

A: Getting married in Maine is relatively easy. You do not need a blood test and there is no waiting period. The hardest part might be finding a town office that’s open, if it’s one of the smaller Maine towns. you can read this post which is all you need to know about getting married in Maine.

A: Many people think wedding officiants shouldn’t cost very much if they only show up and read a 20 minute ceremony. But those people would be mistaken about the time it takes to create a customized and personalized wedding ceremony experience. Read more about why wedding officiants charge what we do

Q: Why do professional wedding officiants cost so much?

Q: Can you suggest musicians for our ceremony music?

A: The best thing to do is start with this list of Maine wedding ceremony musicians. Then check out this list of Maine wedding bands. Many of these musicians would be great for the reception, too. You can also check out this list of Maine wedding DJ’s

Q: Will you have sample readings we can use in our ceremony?

A: I have lots of samples! I have readings, poems, and song suggestions. I have sample ceremonies and lots of ideas for interesting elements to add to your ceremony to personalize it. Once you hire me, you’ll get an email with all the goodies. 

You can also check out these love poems.

Q: When is the best time of year to get married in Maine?

A: Maine weather is funky, you never know what you’re going to get. You can plan a wedding for July (supposedly the warmest month) and it can pour the whole day. You can schedule a spring wedding in May and it might be 75 degrees. I got married in Maine on August 26th and the day was beautiful, but it was chilly as soon as the sun went down. Here is when to get married in Maine

There are a few other things you can do to try to pick a good time and day. here are my suggestions:

Q: How should we manage the guest list?

A:  My first suggestion is that you ask your professional wedding planner. But if you want my 2 cents on the issue you can read my suggestions for managing the wedding guest list

Q: What’s a good timeline for the whole wedding day? 

A: The wedding day timeline really depends on what kind of a wedding you want. If you’re having a small, intimate affair at a local restaurant the timeline will look much different than if you’re having a traditional wedding for 300 guests. That being said, here is my suggestion for a well paced wedding day timeline for a medium to large sized wedding. 

Q: What ‘s a good timeline for a wedding ceremony. 

A: There is no one way to structure a wedding ceremony. In Maine there are only two criteria that must be met in order for a wedding to be legal: you must agree to marry your beloved and your wedding officiant must pronounce you married. Otherwise, the entire ceremony is completely up to you! We can have fun fitting all the parts together and being creative in how we do it.  

Use this link if you’re interested in a traditional wedding ceremony timeline.

Q: What’s the great Irish wedding blessing? 

A: The Irish sure do have a way with words (trust me, I dated one in college). Many people love this Irish wedding blessing and use it in their wedding ceremony. 

Q: Where do we start
with writing our own wedding vows?

A: Writing your own wedding vows can be a wonderful way to personalize your wedding ceremony. It can also be a very daunting task. I did it for my wedding and I remember thinking “I want my vows to be meaningful and not cliche.” I can help you with this, and you can also read this post about writing your wedding vows.

Many people are choosing to write their own wedding vows these days. But an equal number of couples I work with are using the very traditional wedding vows that have been spoken at weddings for years. And still other couples are doing both! 

Q: What happens if it rains on our wedding day?

A: If you’re planning a wedding in Maine you have to consider that it may rain on your wedding day. The big joke here is that “if you don’t like the weather then just wait a minute” (and it’ll change). Some folks feel like rain would ruin their wedding day but I say “embrace it” or definitely have a back up plan if you’re not up for embracing it.  

Q: What are the “post wedding blues?”

A: After planning a wedding, many people have a period of feeling “blue.” It’s totally normal, especially if you were planning your wedding over a long period of time. I have some advice for you for after the wedding is over and your married life begins

Q: Should we hire our friend who is a photographer to shoot our wedding? 

A: Many couples look to a friend to shoot their wedding. Sometimes it’s to save money, other times it’s because they want someone who knows them as a couple to capture their most special day. Take some time to think about the pros and cons of hiring a friend who is a photographer versus a professional wedding photographer

A: While I understand how meaningful it might be to have a friend or family member officiate your wedding ceremony, I also think it’s not always the right decision. Being the wedding officiant is an incredible honor and requires much more than just being good public speaker. Being an officiant is so much more than just reading a script.

Q: Should we hire our friend to be our officiant?

A: It really depends on who you have as your officiant. If you work with a modern, professional wedding officiant, they will not expect to be invited to your wedding reception.

Q: Should we invite our officiant to our wedding reception?

Q: Do you have any tips for a successful marriage? 

A: While I’m not the kind of wedding officiant that offers couples counseling before your wedding, I am married and do have opinions on how to maintain a successful marriage. Caveat: all of my advice is based on my own experience and not on any actual training. 

Q: Do you have any wedding do’s and don’ts’s? 

A: Of course I do! I have a list of wedding do’s and don’t’s based on my experience as a bride and as a wedding officiant. Head my advice, folks! 

Q: This isn’t really a question, but I want my wedding to be perfect so it shows up on a wedding blog!

A: Your wedding will be perfect! Even if some things go wrong and your dress rips and your sister’s kid pukes during the ceremony and it rains or what ever. If you’re feeling stressed out about the wedding planning process you may need to read about the pressure of perfection and then drink a glass of wine.

Q: Should we have a receiving line? 

A: The receiving line is when all the guests line up after the wedding and one-by-one greet the wedding couple (and sometimes other special family members). It’s not as popular an option as it used to be, but you could consider using a receiving line in your wedding. This is an especially good option if you’re having a large wedding with many guests and probably won’t have time to greet everyone individually during the reception. 

Q: How do we get our marriage license after the wedding? 

A: Make sure you know how to get a copy of your official Maine marriage license after the wedding. To help you, I’ve written a blog post about getting a copy of your marriage license after your Maine wedding

Q: How should I clean my diamond engagement ring? 

A: I have a diamond engagement ring and I used to use fancy (and expensive) solutions to clean it, until one day my jeweler told me a secret about how to clean the engagement ring. It works like a charm and is much less expensive!

Check out more frequently asked questions on the blog!

We had previously considered using a friend as our officiant however after connecting with Maria we were so impressed with her experience, knowledge, warm personality and ability to create a special moment for the two of us and our guests.
— Ellen + Adam, Fort Madison, Castine, Maine

COVID-19: I’m booking small, safe weddings for 2020 and all weddings for 2021 and 2022. Check your availability