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Who Officiates a Wedding if You Don’t Go to a Courthouse or Church?

Published Tuesday, Feb. 21st, 2023

Este articulo en español

Friends and family watch as a bride and groom are pronounced married during a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony. The newlyweds are joined by a wedding officiant, behind them is a decorative wedding arch and forest trees.

Wondering who will officiate your wedding ceremony? You've got options! 


En Español: ¿Quién oficia una boda si no va a un Juzgado o a una Iglesia?


Who officiates a wedding that’s held somewhere other than a courthouse or a church? And what do you call this talented person who unites you in lawfully wedded bliss? 


A wedding officiant, that’s who! 


If you want to get married at a private wedding venue, public park, or even your own backyard, a wedding officiant is the person who performs your ceremony and signs your marriage license. 


So, how and where do you find a wedding officiant to marry you? 


You have two choices: Hire someone to officiate, or ask a close friend or relative to lead the ceremony.




Two brides link arms and smile happily during their wedding ceremony, while their wedding officiant smiles and holds up a feather

Planning a unique, non-traditional, or personalized wedding ceremony? A close friend or family member who shares your values might be the perfect choice for wedding officiant. 


Hire Someone


Your first option is to hire a professional wedding officiant to perform your ceremony.


Professional wedding officiants have lots of experience handling the responsibility of leading a ceremony and completing a marriage license. This type of officiant can be found in directories and platforms like The Knot, WeddingWire, Thumbtack, and The Officiant Directory, or listed as a local business online.



Ask a Friend or Relative 


Your second option is to ask a close friend or family member to lead your ceremony. This type of officiant adds a sweet, personal touch to your ceremony. Consider asking the friend who introduced you, a beloved parent or grandparent, or someone else you feel especially lucky to have in your life. 


If you choose to have a loved one officiate, they’ll need to get ordained first. But don’t worry – they don’t need to head to a seminary to become ordained; there are several organizations who provide easy online ordination, including American Marriage Ministries (AMM).  


Ordination with AMM is free, inclusive, non-denominational, and it takes less than five minutes to apply: 



It’s as easy as that! Once they’re ordained, they might need to file proof of their ordination with the state, depending on your location. Only a few states require this additional step; you can see a list of these states here. 


Then, your chosen officiant can learn everything they need to know to officiate your ceremony by reviewing our free Wedding Officiant Training resources online, or by reading Asked To Officiate -- a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to writing and delivering a personalized wedding ceremony. 



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Need more help deciding which type of wedding officiant is best for your ceremony? 


Take the quiz below to find out!  



Which Type of Wedding Officiant

Should You Choose?

This simple quiz will help you choose the best wedding officiant for your ceremony

Minister, friend, relative, or paid professional — Which type of wedding officiant should you choose? Take this simple quiz to discover what kind of wedding officiant is the best choice for your ceremony based on your personality, wedding venue, values, faith, style, and more.


A bride with bright red hair places a ring on her groom's finger during a colorful outdoor wedding ceremony while the officiant watches






Propose to your wedding officiant! 


Will You Marry Us? Gift Box


Asking a friend or relative to officiate your wedding? 'Propose' the idea with the Will You Marry Us? Wedding Officiant Gift Box and Ministers Credential Package.


This gift box contains everything you need to ask someone to officiate your wedding, and everything your chosen officiant will need to perform your wedding -- including the most robust minister ordination available and full documentation of credentials.


Order the gift box here. 






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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