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How to Tell if Your Officiant Can Perform a Legal Wedding

Published Wednesday, Nov. 23rd, 2022

How to check your wedding officiant's credentials:


3 steps to ensure your wedding officiant is legally allowed to marry people. Make sure your marriage is legal, whether you ask a friend to officiate or hire a professional!



Wedding officiants handle important details on the wedding day and make your ceremony legal: Your officiant writes your wedding ceremony script, performs the ceremony, and signs your marriage license. In some states, your officiant also returns your license to the county clerk.


That’s why it’s very important to choose a wedding officiant that’s legally authorized to officiate weddings in your state: If your officiant hasn’t completed the required steps to legally perform a ceremony in your state, your marriage may not be valid. 


Related: 5 Great Reasons to Ask a Friend to Officiate Your Wedding


Since every state has its own legal requirements for wedding officiants, how do you tell if your wedding officiant is legally allowed to marry people there? How do you know for sure your wedding will be legal? 


There are three simple steps you can take to ensure the legal standing of your officiant. We’ll cover each one in detail below. 



Make sure your officiant is qualified by following these 3 steps: 


1. Ask to see your wedding officiant’s minister credentials


2. Confirm that your officiant’s ordination is recognized by your state


3. Confirm that your officiant is registered with the state 





1. Ask to see your wedding officiant’s minister credentials


Most officiants get ordained in order to perform legal weddings. That’s because all states allow ordained ministers and other clergy to marry people. 


Clergy can be ordained by a traditional organization, like a Catholic church or rabbinical seminary, or by a non-traditional internet church, like American Marriage Ministries (AMM). All pathways of ordinations are valid. 


Ask to see your officiant’s minister credentials to confirm they’ve been ordained.


Ministers ordained through AMM will be able to show you one or more of the following credentials, issued by our church: 




AMM Ministers: A digital copy of your ordination certificate is available to view at any time on your Minister Profile. Order printed copies of your minister credentials here: Minister Credentials. 


2. Confirm that your officiant’s ordination is recognized in your state


In the past, certain states challenged the validity of online ordinations. Despite this violating constitutional law, it put couples and ministers in a difficult position, so it’s important to confirm that your officiant’s ordination is recognized by your state. 


AMM Ministers are legally recognized in every state except VA.


Currently, ordinations through American Marriage Ministries are recognized in all U.S. states and territories, except for Virginia. While some of our ministers have successfully registered in VA and officiated weddings there, we cannot guarantee that this will always be the case. (Read about what’s happening in Virginia here.) We cannot speak to the standing of other organizations, and we recommend you contact the organization in question for clarification.





3. Confirm that your officiant is registered with the state


In addition to ordination, some states require officiants to register locally with the clerk’s office before they can officiate a wedding.


States that require officiant registration are listed here: 


+ Officiant Registration by State


If your wedding takes place in a state that requires registration, your officiant must be registered there before the ceremony, and should be able to show you confirmation of this.


Officiants who perform weddings in multiple states must be registered in every state that requires it. If your state isn’t on this list, then your officiant’s ordination is all that’s needed.




That’s it! 


If your officiant meets the above criteria, they can legally perform your wedding. If you still have any questions, contact your local clerk’s office for more details.



Is it legal for a friend to officiate your wedding? 


Yes!  As you can see from the steps above, it’s easy to have a friend or family member officiate your wedding. All they’ll need to is take these steps: 



For a detailed description of how to have a friend legally officiate, head here: 



A note on Notary Publics: 


Some states allow Notary Publics to officiate weddings without being ordained. At the time of writing, these states include Alabama, Florida, Montana, Maine, Nevada, South Carolina, and Tennessee.


Check with your local clerk’s office before choosing a Notary Public to officiate your wedding.


Uh-oh… Officiant not legal? 


If you find out after your wedding ceremony that your officiant wasn’t authorized to marry you, contact your local clerk’s office to determine what steps to take to make your marriage legally binding. You may need to file a new marriage license or complete additional paperwork. 


If you feel that you were wrongfully deceived or scammed by any wedding professional, or that your officiant has committed fraud, contact your local law enforcement and ask about the appropriate steps to take.  


About American Marriage Ministries 

American Marriage Ministries is an inclusive, nonprofit, interfaith, nondenominational church that ordains people from every walk of life. We believe that all people have the right to marry, to choose who performs their wedding, and to perform marriage. 

Learn more about Who We Are.

AMM logo, two gold rings and three light blue stars above



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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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