Patrick Anderson of Chatfield has had the opportunity to preside over a few weddings after becoming ordained over the internet.
Patrick Anderson of Chatfield has had the opportunity to preside over a few weddings after becoming ordained over the internet.

Patrick Anderson: Insurance by day, president by night and weekends.

No joke.

“The first couple I did a wedding for was some good friends of mine. I think I started the joke that I would officiate them and do it in a grand joking manner. When they started to actually plan their wedding, it started getting more serious and they asked me to marry them,” stated Anderson.

Anderson spends most of his days at the desk of Rick Bell’s State Farm Insurance agency in Chatfield, but occasionally on weekends is president – he pronounces people married and ready to take on the world together.

That couple’s joshing led to Anderson investigating what it would take to become an ordained wedding officiant.

“I went online to become ordained. I have a certificate that I am legally ordained, though different locations have different regulations as to what they needed from me to be able to perform the marriage. I am a minister – on the latest marriage license, it asked for my title, so I had to put ‘Minister Patrick Anderson,’” he explained.

The first wedding he did was in Wisconsin and that state only needed his contact information.

“The most recent wedding I did here in town, Fillmore County needed me to send them a copy of the certificate to have on file,” Anderson said. “It’s something that I’ll have to look into every wedding I do if I am legally able to perform the ceremony, and what documentation they need.”

Preparing to officiate a wedding for the first time took few moments of Anderson’s time.

“I met with the couple to go over their idea of the wedding ceremony. They had prepared most of what they wanted to say. I just edited it and tailored it to flow better in my mind when I actually practiced speaking it out loud,” he said.

There was some back-and-forth to clarify how they wanted Anderson to say certain parts and where they would break for others.

“I thought I was going to be more nervous than I actually was when it came to ceremony time. Once I walked out there, I was fine and everything went smooth,” he said. “I was surprised about how easy it was.”

Anderson admits he didn’t learn much about people while performing the ceremony, mostly because his part was to arrive and make sure everyone was comfortable with what they’d already arranged, citing, “I wasn’t involved with any of the other planning…I just had to stand up there and say some words.”

Apparently, he did well in officiating for his friends, because there were requests for him to preside over a second wedding.

“After the first wedding, I received a lot of compliments from a variety of people who attended. I don’t recall anyone specifically from the first wedding wanting me to perform theirs, but the last wedding that I performed, a relative to the wedding party asked them afterwards if they thought I would be willing to drive to South Dakota and perform their wedding,” he said.

Anderson feels that his laid-back approach to the ceremony helped him keep two nervous and excited people focused each time he officiated.

“I think I’m a pretty easygoing, calm person, so that may have helped. Being that the couple are close friends of mine made everything comfortable as well, I think. I’m not sure if it would be much different if I married some people I barely knew, though,” Anderson admitted. “I’ve only dealt with close friends so far, but I would bet if I ever branched out to people I didn’t know, I would learn a different side of people that I don’t already know.”

He’s discovered that standing in front of an engaged couple and their friends and family is a rewarding opportunity.

“Confidence and practice go a long way to doing a job well, and my favorite part of officiating is being part of someone’s special day,” Anderson said. “It’s a neat story that I was so involved with the first couple I married. Doing the actual ceremony is the best part…it’s a happy time. It’s easy to stand up there and be smiling.”

Anderson advised that when a couple is seeking the officiant for their nuptials, they should be mindful of their own personalities and experiences that have brought them to the altar.

“The personality of the person officiating needs to fit what you have in mind for a ceremony. Make sure they are a good, clear speaker in general, as well,” Anderson urged. “I’ve been to some weddings where you couldn’t understand the person performing the wedding. And a wedding should be a fun time, so don’t take it so seriously. I enjoyed it and had fun with it.”