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Can Anyone Officiate a Wedding?

Published Tuesday, Oct. 18th, 2022

My friends asked me to conduct their wedding… Can I say yes?


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AMM Audio Articles · Can Anyone Officiate a Wedding?




Maybe you just got engaged and are trying to decide who you’ll ask to perform your wedding ceremony… Or maybe you’ve just been asked to officiate a wedding ceremony for a close friend or relative, but aren’t sure if you’re even qualified to do it. 


Either way, you might be wondering “Can anyone officiate a wedding?” And you’re not alone in your confusion, we get this question a lot! 


“Can anyone officiate a wedding?”




The answer is: 


Yes! Well, sort of, sometimes. Let us explain… 



Anyone can officiate a wedding if they meet the local requirements to officiate in their state. 


Luckily, meeting local state requirements is often as easy as getting ordained online, which you can do for free in just a few minutes. You’ll also need to be over the age of 18. 



In many states, that’s all that’s needed to legally qualify to officiate a wedding. 





In some states, becoming a wedding officiant takes two steps: you’ll need to get ordained online and then submit proof of your ordination with your local government -- a process called minister registration.


Proof of ordination is usually submitted in the form of an ordination certificate and letter of good standing. These minister credentials are issued by the church that ordained you, such as AMM.



Keep in mind that this additional step (minister registration) is only required in a few states. In many places, only your free ordination is required to perform a marriage ceremony. 



That’s it! So if you’re considering asking a friend to officiate your wedding ceremony, go for it! And if you’ve just been asked to officiate a ceremony, go ahead and say yes. You won’t regret it – it’s a huge honor to perform a wedding, and it’s a lot of fun, too. 


Just make sure you complete the ordination process and check your state’s minister registration requirements. When you’re ready, we have dozens of free sample wedding ceremony scripts for you to use, and free comprehensive minister training resources. 







Need a few more details? 


Each state makes its own marriage laws outlining who is authorized to solemnize marriage there. ‘Solemnize’ means to conduct a formal wedding ceremony and sign the government issued marriage license that makes a marriage legally binding – or, to act as a marriage officiant. This list of authorized wedding officiants is sometimes very long, and will include various approved community leaders, such as local judges, state officials, clergy, and others.  


Every state recognizes the authority of ordained clergy to perform marriage ceremonies, such as a local priest, pastor, imam, rabbi, or minister. 


As an ordained minister with American Marriage Ministries, your right to conduct religious ceremonies of all forms, including wedding ceremonies, is protected by the Establishment Clause ( or the religious non-establishment clause) and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.


You can read more about your rights as an ordained AMM Minister here. 





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Illustration of a wedding officiant's bow tie

Illustration by Jessica Levey

From the article: Right Before You Step on Stage: A Wedding Officiant’s (Very) Last Minute Checklist



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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