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Springfield Wedding Officiant Business Newsleader Article

Ozarks Small Business Profiles

Published Tuesday, July 26, 2005

On line wedding service helps engaged couples find a Wedding Officiant.
Claudia Beasley Springfield News-Leader About the business:

Can-A-Lope Weddings is an on-line tool for couples in need of an Officiant, wedding minister or Wedding Officiants to marry them. Forty ministers in 25 states are available to perform services. The Web site informs customers of the services available, lists ministers by state and a provides a profile of the Wedding Officiants. A deposit is taken once a customer chooses an Officiant. The Wedding Ministers don't pay to be included on the Web site but do require a fee for officiating. Jeff DeBlase is a go-between for couples with no denominational affiliation. He has found a niche for people without Ministers. DeBlase said there are churches that won't marry couples if they have previously been married and divorced or live together before marriage. Meeting with the pastors who want to be included on his Web site requires a lot of travel for DeBlase. A check of their credentials and an interview is conducted before he will list them. How business started: DeBlase attended school to become a pastor in the 1980s. He worked in Houston, Texas, as a minister but has shifted to preaching, teaching and outreach, concentrating on people struggling with addiction. He says Can-A-Lope developed from answers to prayers. After an initial success from one ad in a newspaper, DeBlase traveled to Tulsa, St. Louis, and Kansas City and placed ads there. He got a great response and found that soon he couldn't handle the business without some technical help. Friends helped DeBlase build a Web site in January. He added cities, pastors and links to other Web sites. Special training, preparation or experience: Before the ministry, DeBlase worked in marketing for a few large corporations. Instead of marketing a product, he is now marketing a service, a good one, he said, that meets the needs of customers. Challenges to opening the business: Developing the entire concept was a challenge, he said. He didn't know how to expand to other states, bring in quality people or develop a Web site, but it all came together and is gaining momentum, he said. Five-year goal: Right now he handles around 10-25 weddings a week; he would like to make connections for 50 to 100 couples a week. Ultimately, he wants to support his family and his outreach ministry, which is his true passion.

Owners: Jeffrey and Cindy DeBlase. Springfield Wedding Officiant, Opening date: June of 2004
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) August 14, 2005 Springfield

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