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March 3, 2010 > Nondenominational wedding planning

Nondenominational wedding planning

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Reverend Karen Haughey

Ever since 1997, Reverend Karen Haughey has been marrying hundreds of happy couples a year. As a nondenominational minister, she finds that many couples from different religious backgrounds would like an unbiased person to officiate their marriage. Especially when we live in such a diverse area, she notes, "Every couple that comes in to my office has a different religious persuasion. A lot of couples say something like 'I can't get married in church, because you have to be a member...' I hear everything; there are lots of stipulations."

However, after couples seek out and find nondenominational ministers like her, Haughey says the most common question she is asked is how to obtain a marriage license. She says, "So many people call me and they don't have a clue as how to get the ball rolling. They know they want to get married, but they don't know where to go or who is out there to marry them." It turns out that licenses only take about half an hour to obtain through any of the county clerk offices, and are valid for 90 days.

After the planning and initial steps are taken, Haughey assists couples in personalizing a wedding ceremony that reflects their thoughts and feelings on becoming husband and wife. She attends wedding rehearsals, and also offers optional pre and post nuptial counseling to couples. In these counseling sessions, couples bring in journals and reflect on their communication skills, future goals, etc., in either one four-hour workshop or two two-hour workshops. These sessions are $100 in addition to the $295 for wedding services, and help couples transition into married life.

Haughey sparked her own spirituality when she began painting angels around 1984, which resulted in the publication of her book, Angels, Guardian's of the Light. From there, she became deeply interested in theology and religion, and then studied to become a nondenominational minister, for she says, "Kindness is my religion."

In addition to weddings, Haughey offers ministerial services which include: renewal of vows, anniversary celebrations, baptismals, and memorial services.

Reverend Haughey can be contacted at her office (510) 252-9646 or emailed at for those interested in her services. Other nondenominational ministers can be reached through the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 40155 Blacow Road.

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