Published: Thursday, Feb. 6th, 2020

Ordination vs. Government License: Do You Need to Register to Officiate Weddings in Your State?

Updated November 2020


If this is your first time officiating a wedding, your first concern might be, “How do I make sure the wedding is legal?”


The good news is, it’s actually pretty easy to do. But you’ll need to figure out the following:


Do you need a government minister license, or is your online ordination sufficient?
Let’s start by breaking down the difference, and then learn about which states require a government license or some other form of registration.



An ordination is the first, and often only requirement to officiate weddings in all 50 states. Ordination grants someone the authority to perform certain acts as a “minister” or religious authority, sanctioned by a religious institution. When you get ordained by American Marriage Ministries, it empowers you to legally join couples in marriage and sign the marriage license as an AMM minister. You don’t need to hold any specific beliefs. All that is required is a desire to help the couple celebrate a truly meaningful religious ceremony.
For better or worse, some states require an extra step.


That’s where the government registration, or a license to solemnize marriage comes in. States that license ministers to officiate weddings do so in order to keep track of who is performing this task, and to regulate who officiates.
The process is different in every state, but generally it involves filling out a registration form, proving that you are an ordained minister, and paying a fee.
While it’s always a good idea to have your ordination credentials in hand, many states and/or counties actually require them. If you are planning on performing a wedding, click here to get your official documents.


Here’s a list of states that require registration:


  1. Arkansas
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Hawaii, Louisiana
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Minnesota
  6. Nevada
  7. New Hampshire
  8. New York
  9. Ohio
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Puerto Rico
  12. Virginia
  13. West Virginia

If you live in one of these states or are performing a wedding in one, we’ve got step-by-step instructions on how to register and get your minister license. (If you’re in a non-registration state - such as Oregon - all you need is your ordination.) 


Head to our Weddings by State: Officiant Registration By State page and select your state to get started. 

Do you have more questions? Check out our state minister registration pages. We provide details down to the city level to help you get ordained, file your paperwork, and create an amazing wedding ceremony!




Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!