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Fact Check: Do you need multiple online ordinations to protect your standing as a minister and wedding officiant?

Published Wednesday, Apr. 14th, 2021

Illustration of minister credentials, including an ordination certificate from American Marriage Ministries, a clergy badge, and other documents.
Illustration by Jessica Levey

Do you need more than one online ordination? What if you're officiating in multiple states? Here's what to know! 


We’ve talked to many brand new ministers and wedding officiants over the last few months, answering questions that range from “What should I wear on the wedding day?” to “What denomination do I write down on the marriage license if I’m an atheist?” 


(We love answering your questions by the way! Keep them coming!)


One of these recent questions has a lot to do with continued efforts in counties and states to devalue the credentials of ministers ordained through predominantly online churches. This question usually sounds something like this: 



Are AMM’s ordinations really recognized in all states?” new ministers ask. 

Should I get ordained with more than one online church, just to be safe?



We understand the concern: There’s chatter on multiple wedding officiant forums about county clerks not recognizing online ordination, sometimes turning away ministers or couples trying to apply for or file their marriage licenses. And anti-online ordination laws, like the one suspended in Tennessee in 2019, can add to officiants’ fears. 


So let’s clarify the facts involved in this question for a broader audience, and answer it thoroughly. 


First, the facts: Is my AMM ordination recognized in every state? I mean every state? 


Yes. AMM’s online ordination is recognized in every state in the US, which means that you’re legally allowed to solemnize marriage in any state. You may need to register with the state before you perform marriage, and you can find out more about that process on our Officiant Registration pages. We’re so confident about the strength of our ordinations that we even offer a Government Registration Guarantee


AMM is a federally certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and we’ve been around for over a decade now. 


As a nationally recognized church, we advocate for the right of all people to marry and to choose who marries them, offer ideological support and guidance to our ministers, and participate in charitable activities that enrich our communities -- along with offering online Wedding Officiant Training materials, minister credentials, wedding industry updates and news, books on wedding planning, ceremony planning, and daily articles on officiating. You can find all of these amazing resources on our website! 




But what about Virginia? Or Tennessee? I’ve heard some states won’t accept my credentials.


There are several states that continue to fight against all online ordinations -- no matter which online church the ordination is from. We wholeheartedly disagree with these discriminatory attacks against our ministers, and we (and our lawyers) keep a close eye on them. 


In these areas, including some counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, clerks may try to refuse the credentials of ministers who were ordained online, despite state laws clearly allowing these ministers to solemnize marriages. 


In these cases (and any others where your credentials are questioned), we recommend you contact us directly, so that we can help you resolve these disputes. 


For our ministers in Tennessee, we will provide a letter from our lawyers, and link you to the judge’s order suspending 2019’s unfair law. 


For ministers performing marriages in Virginia, we offer no-cost ordination packages to make the registration process easier. 


And in all states, we offer our guaranteed support and expert guidance. 




Yes, but… Would having more than one ordination make my credentials even ‘safer’? 


No, as an online ordained minister with AMM, you don’t need a ‘backup’ ordination from another church. We’re solid. We offer the most robust and widely accepted online ordination available on the internet. 


In the few counties that attempt to challenge online ordination, it won’t matter to them which church you’re ordained through -- they dislike them all. But it will matter to you which church you’re ordained through, because we have the credentials to back yours up! 


As for multiple ordinations: We encourage you to get ordained with whichever church you feel drawn to, especially one that aligns with your values and beliefs, and that also has the legal standing to ensure your credentials will be recognized when it’s time to sign and file a marriage license. 




Why choose American Marriage Ministries for your ordination? 


In addition to our solid credentials and widely accepted ordinations, consider our values and beliefs as an organization, because they guide everything we do. 


AMM firmly believes : One, that all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry; Two, that it's the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage; and Three, that all people have the right to solemnize marriage. 


These are the core beliefs of our organization, and this is why we spend our time ensuring our ministers’ credentials are accepted everywhere.


We welcome and ordain people of all faiths (or no spiritual beliefs at all). We welcome people of all ages, all cultural and economic backgrounds, and all walks of life. We make our ordinations free, instant, and easily accessible online for these reasons. 


If you share our beliefs that all couples deserve the right to marry, and you want well-respected minister credentials in order to marry others, we might be the perfect fit. 




We hope these answers will alleviate the concerns of new and established ministers and wedding officiants alike, and anyone hoping to marry their friends or family members this year! 



Do you have a question about your minister credentials or planning a ceremony? Contact us!


We’re real people, and we really like hearing from you. 


Contact American Marriage Ministries: 

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 206-395-9164
Office Hours: Monday - Friday | 10am - 5pm PST




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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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