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What is an SBNR Wedding Officiant & How Do You Become One?

Published Tuesday, Jun. 15th, 2021

SBNR, or 'Spiritual but not religious,' is one of the most popular ways people describe their beliefs.

If you consider yourself spiritual, but don’t belong to an organized spiritual tradition, faith, or religious denomination, you might be part of a growing population in the US who call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’ — or SBNR for short. 


And like others in this group, you probably want to create new traditions that match your unique perspectives! 


In fact, some of the most common wedding-related searches online right now include phrases like ‘ non religious wedding readings ’ and ‘spiritual non religious wedding vows.'


It’s no surprise that people want to get married in ways that reflect their values and unique spiritual beliefs, without any of the confining rules or traditions associated with religion. This can be especially true for folks who have had bad experiences with or faced discrimination from conservative religions, including interracial couples, LGBTQ+ couples, and those belonging to alternative faiths, along with anyone and everyone who dances to the beat of their own spiritual drum.


And they’re looking for wedding officiants like you, who can help make these special weddings happen! 



What is a ‘spiritual but not religious’ wedding officiant? 


An SBNR wedding officiant is anyone who wants to help a couple create a custom ceremony that’s tailored to their personal spiritual beliefs. 


There’s no requirement that a wedding officiant hold the same beliefs as the couple they're marrying, only a need for them to accept and celebrate the couple for who they are.


Anyone asked to officiate a wedding should consider whether or not they’re comfortable with the type of ceremony a couple wants. If you don’t think you’ll be able to perform the ceremony in an enthusiastic and supportive way, including delivering any words or readings the couple requests, you should refer them to another officiant who can. 



How do you become an SBNR officiant? 


First, get ordained! You can become an ordained minister with AMM in just a few minutes by completing a simple form. 


Then, check the minister registration requirements in your state, and order any proof of ordination your state requires. 


Next, you’ll want to meet and talk to couples who wish to marry in nontraditional ceremonies with a spiritual side. Let them know you’re happy to honor any spiritual beliefs they may have, and then work together to create a ceremony script that includes any unity ceremonies, special readings, and other unique rituals they might suggest. 


Most importantly, have fun and be yourself! 


As a spiritually-inclined person who’s not limited by old traditions or conventional ideas of what a wedding ‘should look like’ or what couples ‘should’ say or do, you have unique and valuable insight into what these modern couples really want. 



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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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