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Who Officiates an Atheist Wedding? 3 Types of Officiants for a Non-Religious Marriage Ceremony

Published Tuesday, Apr. 30th, 2024

Young bride and groom pose on their wedding day, holding hands outdoors smiling at each other. The bride wears a white dress and leather jacket, and has pink hair. The groom is wearing a white dress shirt and has short hair and a tattoo.
Photo: angel_nt / iStock

Who can perform an atheist wedding ceremony? You've got options!



Who officiates secular weddings for nonreligious and atheist couples? Marriers who belong to specific faith denominations can ask a clergy member from their local church or temple, but what about everyone else?
If you want a religion-free wedding, you have several great options for officiants. 

Consider the three types of wedding officiants listed below to get started. The best officiant for you and your wedding will depend on the style, size, level of formality, and location of your ceremony. 



Two lovely brides on the wedding day pose outdoors, laughing and smiling together

Photo: rparobe / iStock


3 Types of Officiants for an Atheist Wedding or Elopement



1. Ask a friend or family member to officiate


Friends and relatives can get ordained online through American Marriage Ministries (AMM) for free and officiate your wedding as an AMM Minister. AMM Ministers don’t have to hold any specific religious beliefs, or have any spiritual beliefs at all. Atheists and agnostics are welcome!


AMM only asks that our ministers believe three tenets, which are grounded in marriage equality for all people: 


1. All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
2. It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
3. All people have the right to solemnize marriage.


Once your friend is ordained, they might need to register with the local government before the ceremony. This step is only required in a few states. See if your state is on the list: Weddings by State: Officiant Registration by State

After the ceremony, your friend will have the authority to legally sign your marriage license as an AMM Minister! 

Here’s a simple officiant script to help them get started: 




A wedding officiant smiles and laughs with a bride and groom during an outdoor wedding ceremony

Photo: martinedoucet / iStock

Ask a friend or relative to officiate your ceremony! 


2. Get married by a judge or clerk at City Hall


Marriage ceremony services may be available at your local courthouse or county clerk’s office.  A courthouse wedding ( or ‘civil ceremony’) is presided over by a judge, county clerk, city clerk, or similar official. 
During a civil ceremony, the officiant reads a simple officiant script, asks if you wish to marry (the declaration of intent, or the familiar ‘I do’ of weddings), and pronounces you married. After the ceremony, they sign and file the marriage license.. 
Contact a location directly to find out if marriage services are offered there, and ask about civil ceremony fees. 


If you want the simplicity of a civil ceremony but the sweetness of a private elopement ceremony, give a friend officiant this script to use: Simple & Sweet, A Courthouse Wedding Ceremony Script



3. Hire a professional wedding officiant


You might want to hire a professional wedding officiant to perform your ceremony. Professional wedding officiants often specialize in specific types of ceremonies, including non-religious weddings. 
If you decide to go this route, interview a few potential officiants to determine how well they’ll fit your needs. Ask if they’re comfortable performing an atheist wedding, and make sure they know to avoid any religious or spiritual wording during your ceremony. 



Search for professional officiants online using Google Business Profiles (just type in “wedding officiant near me”) or on vendor websites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, The Officiant Directory. Wedding planning forums on FaceBook, Discord, and others can also be a good place to ask other soon-to-be-weds and newlyweds for recommendations.  


Professional officiants can perform large elaborate weddings, small elopement ceremonies, or 'just us' license signings to make things legal -- and everything in between. The type of ceremony you choose is up to you! 
Consider these resources to get started: 



You might also like: 




Stylized depiction of the cosmos, with the AMM logo in the foreground

Yes, we really mean it: People of all faiths -- or no spiritual beliefs at all -- can get ordained as an interfaith, nondenominational minister with AMM! Read more 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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