Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12th, 2020

How to Get Certified to Marry Someone: Ordination, Certification, and Minister Licensing Explained

The first step before officiating a wedding, even before you start talking about the ceremony, is to make sure you're legally allowed to solemnize weddings in your state. Everyone has the legal right to perform marriage, but just as with other important life events, the government's found a way to involve itself... 


To perform a legal wedding as a wedding minister, you need to ensure that you meet your state’s requirements. 


En español : Cómo Obtener una Certificación para Casar a Alguien: Licencia Ministerial, Certificación y Ordenación explicados



First, you have to get ordained. 


You can get ordained online here, with AMM. Just fill out the application and submit it online. It's simple and free.



Second, understand state-specific certification rules.

Once your ordination is taken care of and out of the way, (we’ll wait for a minute while you fill out and submit the form), the next step is understanding certification and what that entails. The reason getting certified to marry someone is confusing, is because different states and municipalities use the terms “certification” and “licensing” interchangeably. It helps to know these words mean the same thing.
So, read our minister registration pages and find out if you need to be certified by your state or local county government. Certification, or licensing, depends on where the wedding is taking place, not where you live.



The laws regarding minister registration vary from state to state. And while many states do not require ministers to register before performing marriage, many do. This depends on where the wedding is taking place, not where you live.

Below is a list of states where Wedding Officiant Registration is Required.


However, you should still check with your local county clerk, as many county-level offices have their own policies.



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


If you're going to officiate a wedding in any of the states mentioned above, you should order your Minister Ordination Package for that state. This package contains everything you need to successfully register -- including Government Applications, Ordination Certificate, and Letter of Good Standing.


If your state is not listed above, it’s still a good idea to make sure you have your ordination credentials on hand, since you are performing a legal function, and proof may be required at a later date. If you'd like to work as a traveling wedding officiant and perform marriages in other states, check their certification rules ahead of time, and read the two articles linked below. 



Read Can I Officiate Weddings in Other States?


and then check out A Wedding Officiant's Guide to Performing Destination and Cruise Ship Weddings.



Updated August 16 2021


Read this article in Spanish: 




Signature Wedding Officiant Package



Our Signature Wedding Officiant Package includes everything you'll need to successfully officiate a wedding ceremony! 




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