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How Much Does it Cost to Get Ordained to Officiate a Wedding?

Published Tuesday, Mar. 8th, 2022

Photo: Christin Hume Photography

If you’re wondering what it will cost to officiate a wedding for the first time, you’re in the right place. We cover all the basics below to help you get started. 


And you’re not alone – Experts are predicting that we’ll see 2.1 million weddings this year, making 2023 one of the busiest years for weddings in quite a while. That means we’ll also be seeing a lot of first-time wedding officiants! 


More than 43% of couples ask a friend or family member to perform their wedding, according to The Knot. Having a friend officiate is an affordable way for couples to make their wedding ceremony intimate and special. And serving as a wedding officiant is also a meaningful way to ensure that all couples are treated with respect and love on their wedding day – you make it possible! 


Whether a friend has asked you to officiate their wedding, or you’re starting a new side gig as a wedding officiant to make extra money, it’s important to consider the costs of ordination and registration upfront, before you start planning.



You’ll want to keep 4 separate costs in mind: 


  • Your ordination (Free options available)
  • Your ministry credentials (About $35-60)
  • Registration costs for your state (Varies by county)
  • Any extras you might want (Optional)


1. Online ordination


Total cost: Free options available (or pay a fee) 


Ordination (becoming an ordained minister) is the first step in becoming qualified to perform a wedding ceremony or sign a marriage license, so we’ll start here.
There are several online churches that offer affordable online ordination. Some of these require you to hold certain religious beliefs and will charge a small fee, such as the Christian Harvest Church. Other online ordinations are non-denominational and completely free, like ours.


American Marriage Ministries (AMM) is an interfaith and non-denominational church and provides free ordination to people from all backgrounds and beliefs. And AMM’s ordinations are legally recognized in every state and US territory except Virginia. 


(Get ordained online with American Marriage Ministries here, it’s simple and only takes a minute.)


2. Ministry credentials 


Total cost: About $35 - $60


You’ll need to purchase ministry credentials if you live in a state that requires minister registration, so be sure to include this in your budget. See the list of states that require registration here. 


‘Minister credentials’ include an Ordination Certificate and Statement / Letter of Good Standing, and are purchased from the church where you receive your ordination. You’ll use them to register your ordination with the local government, authorizing you to solemnize marriage there. 


Some people see this as a hidden cost attached to free online ordination, but it’s not. You’ll need to purchase these credentials no matter where you get ordained, including through a traditional brick-and-mortar church, whenever you’re officiating a wedding in a state that requires registration.


You may also wish to purchase a Clergy Badge or Minister Wallet ID card, to have with you at the ceremony (or when visiting other institutions like hospitals or prisons). 


Some professional wedding officiants purchase credentials even if they aren’t required. They can be useful to have on hand, for example when a couple asks to see your clergy credentials to make sure you’re qualified before they book a wedding with you.


Product image of the American Marriage Ministries wallet ID card for Ministers and Wedding Officiants, showing the AMM logo, a color photo of a minister, and their minister information

Clergy ID cards like this AMM Minister wallet card are perfect for identifying yourself as a wedding officiant while you're on the go. 




3. Minister registration


Total cost: Varies by county 


To perform marriage in a state that requires ministers to register before a ceremony, you may have to pay a fee to file your ministry credentials with the local clerk. 


This fee is usually small but will vary by county, so we recommend you contact your local clerk directly to ask about this cost. To find out more about the registration process in your state, head here. 


4. Any extras, such as officiant training or supplies


Total cost: Optional


Once your required ordination and credentials are out of the way, your costs are as low (or as high) as you want them to be. 


American Marriage Ministries offers free online training resources, as well as affordable workbooks and step-by-step training guides. 



And AMM’s Minister Ordination and Wedding Officiant Packages contain all the required credentials and paperwork you need, plus professional supplies to perform a real wedding.


Many new officiants will also create a business website, design and print business cards, or pay to attend conventions and bridal shows to meet couples and network with other vendors. 







You don’t need to spend a lot to get started as an officiant…

Just spend wisely. 



We hope this guide helps you prepare for your first wedding! For more tips for first-time wedding officiants, including how to write a personal ceremony script, visit: 



Articles for First Time Officiants 



Updated May 2023


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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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