Q: How can people get in touch with you?
A: By phone (1-941-952-1440) or e-mail NancyT@BarefootWeddings.com or mail (PO Box 25421, Sarasota, FL 34277).
Q: How are you authorized to officiate at weddings?
A: The State of Florida is one of three states that authorize Notaries Public to officiate at weddings. I became a Notary Public in 1984 when I was managing an executive suite on St. Armands Key (near Lido Beach in Sarasota).
Q: How does your ceremony differ from a religious ceremony or getting married at the courthouse?
A: I can do either the traditional ceremony or a totally non-religious ceremony at any location the couple desires. Most of the ceremonies are held in Manatee County or Sarasota County.
Q: Can the couple request changes to the ceremony to personalize it for them?
A: Yes, I customize each ceremony to the couple. We can include parents, children, readings or poems, prayers or blessings, traditions and customs - whatever they desire.
Q: Given your business name, Barefoot Weddings, are all of your weddings held on the beach?
A: Approximately half of my weddings have been on beaches as far north as St. Pete Beach south through Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key, Venice Beach, Casey Key, and Manasota Key. Other weddings have been at the Powel Crosley mansion, Ringling Museum of Art, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Garden Club, Philippi Mansion, parks, the Ritz-Carlton, the Hyatt Sarasota, various country clubs, resorts, restaurants, on boats, and in private homes.
Q: Are your weddings generally very casual and small?
A: I've officiated at several weddings as small as just the couple and me. Witnesses are not required. Other couples have had large wedding parties and a hundred guests or more. The weddings have ranged from very, very casual to very formal.
Q: How much notice is required to book you?
A: The more notice the better, but I have done weddings on 2-3 hours notice. One groom asked two friends to be their officiant and back-up officiant. As it turned out, the first Notary was becoming a grandmother that day and cancelled. When the groom called his back-up Notary, she told him she had to attend her son's recital. Let me add that these were not Notaries who generally marry people. So, the groom found me in the Yellow Pages and called. Fortunately, I was available to officiate at their sunset wedding on the white sands of Siesta Key.
Q: When is your busiest season?
A: My busy season is our winter tourist season. The temperatures are a little cooler for our residents who want to get married, but still seem warm to our visitors who want to get married on the beach.
Q: Do you meet with the couple beforehand?
A: Sometimes. But, we can usually arrange everything by e-mail or phone.
Q: If there is a wedding rehearsal, do you attend it?
A: It is usually a good idea, especially if there will be more than four attendants in the wedding party. But if it is a small, casual wedding on the beach or at their home, there usually is not a rehearsal.
Q: What about renewal of wedding vows?
A: I've done quite a few renewals. Some of the couples renewed their vows on their first anniversaries. Most though have been married 10, 15, 25 years or longer. Sometimes, the children surprise their parents with a vow renewal on their anniversary.
Q: In what ways is a renewal ceremony different from a wedding ceremony?
A: In many ways it is very similar. We can use basically the same ceremony that was used on their wedding day. But we also acknowledge the passing of years, growth of the family, and other milestones. Also, a renewal ceremony doesn't require going to the courthouse for a license.
Q: Speaking of Florida marriage licenses, how does a couple go about getting one?
A: The couple can go to any county courthouse in Florida to get their license. They can use it in that county or any other county in Florida. The cost varies by county, but usually is around $90-95. There is no blood test. The couple must show photo ID such as drivers' licenses, their Social Security numbers, and the date any previous marriage ended. If either party is a Florida resident, there is a 3-day waiting period. The waiting period can be waived if the couple takes the pre-marital course, which also earns them a discount on the cost of the license. There is no waiting period for non-residents. The license is good for 60 days from issue. It must be returned to the courthouse within 10 days of the ceremony. If the couple is anxious to have their certified copy, they should take it back to the courthouse. If they or I mail it in, it can take four weeks to receive their certified copy at their home address.
Q: How do the couples become aware of your services?
A: From my website, www.BarefootWeddings.com, and I get referrals from couples I've married or their guests, and from the Local Chambers of Commerce. In addition, networking with other wedding service providers is helpful.
Q: There are thousands of Notaries Public in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, but only a few of them officiate at weddings. What made you decide to marry people?
A: My husband, Don, and I were married in 1987 by a friend who was a Notary Public. I started thinking about it then. I had been a Notary since 1984. In 1991, I started my desktop publishing business. Then I took a speech-making class to get more comfortable speaking in front of a group.
Q: When did you officiate at your first wedding and what do you recall about that one?
A: In 1990, my hairdresser asked me to officiate at her wedding because she knew I was a Notary. I calmed myself down by thinking they must be more nervous than I. I do remember that we were on a dock and a powerboat sped by during the ceremony.
Q: How many weddings have you done since then?
A: I've officiated at over 1500 ceremonies since then and met nice people from all over the country. I've also married couples from Canada, Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and South America. I'm with people on the happiest day of their lives and it's interesting to see their various customs.
Q: Has anyone ever fainted at one of your weddings or have there been other disasters?
A: No one has fainted and no one has been "left at the altar." I've noticed if the grooms cry, the brides usually don't. Flower girls and ring bearers under age 4 usually are not very cooperative. Rings have been dropped, but all have been found. One morning I woke up with laryngitis and called my mom to help with a wedding that evening. I managed to croak out what was legally required, while Mom read the rest of the ceremony. The couple didn't mind the substitution - they were just happy to be married.
Q: What does the State of Florida require in a marriage ceremony?
A: The couple must agree to be married and I must pronounce them married - everything else is optional.
Q: Have most of your couples been married before?
A: Probably two-thirds have been married previously.
Q: Have any of them been married to each other previously?
A: I've had about a dozen in the "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" category.
Q: What have been the youngest and oldest couples you've married?
A: There was a bride and groom, both 18, who got married on Siesta Key Beach with their parents' blessings. One couple was in their early 70s, but had known each other since childhood. They eloped to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. I married a bride in her late 70s to her 90-year-old groom. Her middle-aged son "gave her away." There's no age limit on love!
Q: Have you officiated on any unusual days or at any unusual places or times?
A: I've done weddings on Christmas Day and New Years Day. My oldest couple got married at Sarasota's Bayfront Park by a sculpture titled "Unconditional Surrender" which depicts a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of WWII. I did one wedding just after midnight on the day the license became effective (after the 3-day waiting period). In 1997, I "married" a pair of local disc jockeys to their listeners. A year later, I renewed their vows, did a group renewal of vows for any interested couples in the audience, and officiated at a real wedding for a couple.
Q: What is the largest number of weddings you've done in one day?
A: In 2004, Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday and everyone wanted to get married then. I had 4 weddings on 4 different beaches on 3 different islands. I put 70 miles on my car that day! And the weather was going from bad to worse (which is unusual for February).
Q: Since you're not a minister or judge, you probably don't wear a cassock or robe. What do you wear to a wedding?
A: I try to match the degree of formality - formal, semi-formal, casual. And if I can't match the colors, I at least try not to clash.
Q: Do you have any final words of advice for brides & grooms planning their weddings?
A: Relax, have fun, enjoy your day. And if something does go wrong, it's what you'll still be laughing about at your 50th anniversary party.