A wedding officiant is the person who is responsible for solemnizing marriages; usually wedding officiants are priests or clergy ordained as per the rules of their respective religious denominations or civic officials such as a judge, notary public or justice of the peace, or hold certain ranks in military and marine services, such as an army chaplain or the captain of a ship. One of the newest ways for people to become wedding officiants without following the above paths is to be ordained by an online ministry to specifically perform wedding ceremonies. Read on to find out how you can become a wedding officiant.
Studying to be ordained as a priest, minister or other similar religious designation requires a long period of study followed by a traditional ordination, before you become authorized to perform weddings and other religious ceremonies. Educational requirements include a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s or doctorate in Divinity. An additional licensing requirement is added in some specific states, before a priest can act as a wedding officiant.
Secular officiants usually hold an office of civil authority, such as a judgeship, justice of the peace, notary public or other designated official in City Hall. Civil authorities approved to officiate at weddings differ from state to state
Online wedding officiants
The procedure for becoming an online wedding officiant is quite simple, but whether will be legally allowed to perform wedding ceremonies will depend upon individual state laws. This procedure is described in brief below:
- Look up the Internet for online ministries; some of the well-known ones are Wedding Ministers.com, Rose Ministries, Universal Life Church Monastery, First Nation Ministry and World Christianship Ministries.
- Select one and apply to be ordained as a minister or only as a wedding officiant if you so desire.
- Some ministries follow specific religious denominations and you will need to abide by their rules and ceremonies. There are however, many non-denominational ministries as well, where religion is not a pre-condition.
- In most cases, you need to provide the required information and documentation along with the prescribed fee which can be quite steep, starting from $600 and above; some online ministries charge a one-time fee, while others may charge you with an upfront deposit + a monthly fee.
- Once you’ve completed the required formalities, an ordination package is mailed to you, which may consist of the following documents: (a) Ordination Certificate; (b) Letter of Good Standing&Recommendation; (c) License card with credential listed; and (d) all information relating to wedding ceremonies and laws in the specified state.
In certain states, California for example, any lay person can apply for permission to act as a Deputy Commissioner of Marriage for one day, in order to conduct a wedding ceremony for family or close friends.
The information in this article should be sufficient to get you started on becoming a wedding officiant.