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Can you legally perform a wedding ceremony for your friends and family? Yes!

Published Wednesday, Apr. 28th, 2021

Illustration of a bride, groom, and wedding officiant, friends on the wedding day
Illustration by Jessica Levey

Yep, you’re legally allowed to marry people! This honor isn’t only for judges, priests, and justices of the peace… You just need to get ordained first. Pretty cool, right? 



Maybe a friend or family member asked you to officiate their wedding ceremony, or maybe you just really love the idea of helping two lovebirds tie the knot and want to become a professional officiant or celebrant. Either way, becoming legally qualified to perform marriages is a straightforward process! 



We’ll walk you through the steps. 


1. Get ordained online for free with American Marriage Ministries. 


It only takes a minute or two to fill out our ordination form online. Once it’s processed, you’re ordained! 


American Marriage Ministries (AMM) is a federally accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and offers the most widely accepted online ordinations in the country, so you’re already off to a great start. If you’re the kind of person who likes reading a few reviews before you commit, check out our Wedding Wall and see our ministers in action. These happy officiants and couples speak for themselves (and we’re also accredited with the Better Business Bureau). 


2. Register in the state where the wedding will be held. 


Some states require that wedding officiants register with the county where the wedding will be held before the ceremony. It might take a couple days (or longer) for all the paperwork to go through, so do your research and check the local policies as early as possible.


3. Use our cool online resources! 


We want all couples to be married in an awesome ceremony by the person they choose -- you! And that means we want you to have access to all the helpful information you need to perform the perfect wedding.


That’s why our online wedding scripts, sample wedding ceremonies, officiant training pages, and articles are free. Use ‘em all! 


4. Say the words and sign the license! 


You can make the wedding ceremony as fancy or as simple as the couple wants it to be. Check out our wedding templates and the information on filling out the marriage license. You definitely can’t have a legal wedding ceremony without a marriage license, so don’t skip it!



image is an illustration of a woman smiling and waving, she has light purple hair and a black tshirt and is in front of a bright yellow background, an ordained minister

Make your friends' wedding spectacular by helping them say "I do!"



Maybe you’ve followed all the steps above but still want to understand WHY you’re allowed to marry people. 


Binding two people in a legal contract does seem like a pretty formal and important job, right? Like something a judge, rabbi, or priest would do… Not you, the favorite uncle or best friend… right? 


Well, not to step on any toes, but we believe that everyone should have the right to solemnize marriage (that means make it legal), because we think marriage should be available to all couples who want it. Marriage comes with a ton of social and financial benefits -- things like healthcare, childcare, access to adoption, housing, and social security -- and everyone deserves equal access to those. That’s marriage equality. And wedding officiants are part of making that happen! 


Supporting true marriage equality is helping couples choose whoever they want to perform their marriage rites. So we help friends and family members to become the perfect ‘marriage official’ for the couples they love. And once you’re ordained, you can use all our online resources to ensure you do an amazing job.  


When it comes to being ‘official,’ it's true that all states have specific requirements for who can solemnize marriages. Officiants must hold certain qualifications, determined by their state, such as being a judge, justice of the peace, notary, or a member of the clergy (such as an imam, pastor, or ordained minister). And officiants who are ordained ministers with American Marriage Ministries are qualified to marry people in every state and US territory. 


That’s why AMM makes ordination simple and free. We help uncles, grandparents, siblings, and best friends, people like you, to meet the requirements in their states by becoming ordained ministers with our organization. Which, btw, is interfaith, non-denominational, inclusive, LGBTQIA+ friendly, and welcomes EVERYONE equally. Anyone who wants to become a minister or wedding officiant with AMM can do so. We don’t discriminate against anyone. 


Once you’re ordained through AMM, and registered in your state, you’re official! 



Not what you were looking for? 

For a look at the types of officiants who can perform your wedding ceremony, read: 




Ordained and ready for the next step? 





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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