AMERICAN WEDDINGS BLOG

Published: Monday, Feb. 22nd, 2021

Tags: ceremony-planning, covid-19, marriage-license, covid

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Can I Officiate a Virtual Wedding Ceremony In My State?

Zoom wedding skype livestream virtual wedding perform officiate

Answers to common questions about performing and planning virtual weddings over Zoom, Skype, and livestreaming platforms.

 

 

 

Wedding officiants in every state are asking the same five questions about virtual weddings right now:


1. Can I officiate a virtual wedding ceremony in my state? 
2. Are there special rules for officiating virtual weddings? 
3. How do I sign a marriage license for a virtual wedding ceremony? 
4. Do I need to be physically located in the same state as the couple I’m marrying? 
5. How is all of this different from weddings where only guests join remotely? 

 

 

The confusion makes sense! The laws outlining virtual marriage ceremonies are new and changing quickly (some are temporary), and they vary from state to state.

 

 

Heck, even the term ‘virtual wedding’ means something different at different times! 

 

For the purposes of this article, we’ll define ‘virtual wedding ceremony’ as one where brides or grooms are not in the same physical location as their wedding officiant, and are interacting over Zoom, Skype, or another video-conferencing platform.

 

This is different from a wedding where the officiant is standing next to the couple in person, with guests joining over livestream or video-conference (Which, confusingly, is also called a virtual wedding… We know, it’s confusing.)

 

 

image of a computer keyboard with wedding rings to represent online marriage, virtual wedding ceremony, or zoom wedding

Not sure how to perform an online wedding? Read on! 

 

 

Let's tackle each of these questions one at a time, and hopefully shed a little light on the online wedding situation. 

 

 

1. Can I officiate a virtual wedding ceremony in my state? 

 

Currently, only a few states allow ministers and officiants to perform fully virtual wedding ceremonies -- with the wedding officiant and the wedding party in different physical locations. 

 

These states are: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Utah, and Hawaii

 

For detailed information, click the individual link for each state above, or read These states are where you can - and can't - get married online. All of the states listed above also allow couples to apply for marriage licenses online. 

 


2. Are there special rules for officiating virtual weddings? 

 

Yes, and the special guidelines for virtual weddings vary from state to state -- including whether both parties and the officiant need to be in the same state during the ceremony, and who should host the video-conference call. To ensure a legally binding marriage, couples and officiants should pay very close attention to their state’s specific guidelines for online weddings. 

 

Find your state guidelines by heading to our Officiant Registration Pages

 

Once you're there, click the link for your state, and then click the link labeled “Zoom Wedding Legal Information” at the top of your state’s page. Then, contact your county or state directly to make sure the rules haven’t been updated before the ceremony. 

 

No matter which state you’re in, officiants need to meet the legal requirements for performing marriage in the state where the marriage will be registered. (Ordination with AMM prepares you to perform marriage in every state. You can find out more about the simple process of becoming ordained with AMM by heading to our FAQ page.)

 


3. How do I sign a marriage license for a virtual wedding ceremony? 

 

Procedures for signing and filing a marriage license for a virtual wedding vary for each state. For example, in Utah, officiants can sign a license electronically through an encrypted email link, making the entire process fully remote. In other states, licenses will need to be signed and filed by mail. 

 

Couples and officiants can visit their state’s “Zoom Wedding Legal Information” page (linked in the answer above), and ask their local clerk about current guidelines when applying for the license. 

 


4. Do I need to be physically located in the same state as the couple I’m marrying? 

 

In most states, officiants are required to be in the same state as the couple they’re marrying. However, in Utah, the officiant must be physically located in Utah at the time of the ceremony, but the bride or groom can be located in any state, or any country! Check your local policies as soon as you begin planning your virtual ceremony to ensure the marriage is legally binding. 

 

 

5. How is all of this different from weddings where only guests join remotely? 

 

Terms like ‘virtual wedding’ and ‘online wedding’ are used loosely and the meanings can become muddled! Often, when people talk about virtual weddings, they’re talking about weddings with an in-person officiant but with guests attending over Zoom, Skype, or livestream.

 

It’s important to understand that in most states, this is the only kind of virtual wedding that’s allowed. These are incredibly popular, and for good reason! It’s much easier to plan a small wedding with only 3 or 5 people in a room right now (with the world all topsy turvy during Covid), and couples can (safely!) supplement the guest list of these microweddings and minimonies and elopements with virtual guests. 

 

 

If you hear someone talking about planning a virtual wedding but aren’t sure about which way they’re using the term, just ask for clarification so that you know which steps to take next! 

 


 

For more insight on how to plan or perform a wedding during COVID, read: 

 


 

GET ORDAINED
WITH AMM

Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!