In Idaho, there is a wide variety of officials who are allowed to preside over a wedding, along with relatively flexible marriage-certificate laws.
According to Idaho code, any of the following officials are allowed to solemnize a marriage in the state: a current or retired justice of the supreme court, a current or retired court of appeals judge, a current or former governor, the current lieutenant governor, the current or retired magistrate of the district court, a mayor, a current tribal judge or an approved one, and a priest or minister of the gospel of any denomination.
The minister portion of the code allows anyone who wants to become an ordained minister to register online to become one. Valley resident Matt Gorby, a bartender at the Casino in Ketchum, has been a minister since 1994. He said he became certified through mailing in his registration to the Universal Life Church.
“When I first moved into town, myself and some friends just decided to do it as a fluke,” Gorby said. “I didn’t actually plan on marrying anyone until my friend asked me to preside over his wedding.”
Sean Barovetto, a chef at the Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, said he also decided to become an ordained minister out of the blue, but now enjoys presiding over weddings.
“I first registered for nothing else other than to say I was a minister,” Barovetto said.
Both Gorby and Barovetto said their ceremonies are not geared towards a specific religious denomination. Gorby said he does not use prayers and makes no mention of God, instead focusing on making the celebration a positive spiritual experience.
“When I first started marrying people, I would marry anyone,” Gorby said. “Now I only marry people that are close to me. I want to do it for people that I care about.”
Gorby said that when he’s approached to marry people he is unfamiliar with, he usually refers them to Barovetto, who said he loves marrying people he’s never met before.
“I love to do random people’s weddings,” Barovetto said. “It’s a weird, weird high. You get to meet two different families, some really interesting people and watch them merge.”
Although same-sex marriages are not recognized in Idaho at this time, Barovetto said the one same-sex marriage he officiated was “the highest energy level of a wedding I’ve ever done. It was phenomenal and unreal.”
Both Gorby and Barovetto have their own personal idiosyncrasies that make their marriage ceremonies unique from others. Barovetto has been nicknamed “the Sinister Minister” for quoting the likes of the band The Misfits, Dr. Seuss and the Rolling Stones, among others. Gorby said he likes to recite the Apache Blessing during his ceremonies.
“When I preside over a ceremony, I ask the bride and groom to say ‘I will’ instead of ‘I do,’” Gorby said. “If you say ‘I do’ today, you can say ‘I did’ tomorrow, but if you say ‘I will’ then you’re stuck.”
Gorby said he’s presided over about 30 ceremonies, while Baravetto estimates he’s done between 65 and 75. Both said they do not charge for their services.
“I used to charge for presiding, but I don’t anymore,” Barovetto said. “We don’t deserve to get paid. It’s too much of a special right to be able to marry somebody.”
Gorby said he’s had a number of interesting experiences while presiding over wedding ceremonies. He said that a popular Hollywood movie star once delayed a ceremony for more than an hour because she wanted to fix her hair. On another occasion, he was forced to improvise the end of his speech because the ink on his paper melted.
In the church, ceremonies are more formal
The Rev. Ken Brannon, of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, said that before he marries a couple they must go through at least three pre-marital counseling sessions to prepare them for married life. He also makes his ceremonies explain the context of marriage in the eyes of God.
“At the church, we are celebrating and blessing marriage,” Brannon said. “We begin with opening sentences putting in context what God has done in Jesus Christ. We look at marriage in relation to our relationship with God.”
Brannon also asks the couple and audience if there are any reasons why the two should not be married, as a legal safeguard. Afterwards, he states the declaration of consent, in which the two commit to spending the rest of their lives together, in sickness and in health.
Following the declaration, Brannon sets up the conditions of marriage, in which both the parties say they’re entering freely and without reservation into the marriage. Brannon then reads the Ministry of the Word, which are readings from scripture, along with his reflection on the readings.
Following the vows of marriage, Brannon gives his blessing, allows for rings to be exchanged and pronounces the couple husband and wife. He said that certain ceremonies offer Holy Communion afterwards, while others do not.
“When you get married, you are entering into a covenant that reflects God’s covenant with his people,” Brannon said. “In church, marriage is considered part of a larger community, signifying something greater as a sacrament which is an outward sign of God’s grace.”
Gorby said he sees the marriage-license laws in Idaho as much more relaxed than in other states. Under Idaho law, the man and woman must have a valid driver’s license and birth certificate. There is no waiting period for a marriage certificate, and the cost is $30, which can only be paid in cash. Both the bride and groom must appear in person for the license at the time of applying, and no blood test is required.
Ministers are required to give a marriage certificate to the bride and to the groom. The minister must also complete the license and marriage certificate and return it to the issuing recorder within 30 days after the marriage takes place.
Marriage licenses in Idaho never expire, and the licenses can only be used within the state of Idaho.