How to Officiate Weddings in Reno
American Marriage Ministries Guide to Performing Marriage in the Biggest Little City in the World
Nevada’s reputation as a destination for eloping lovers dates back more than 200 years to 1897, when California passed a law prohibiting remarriage within a year of getting a divorce.
Thirty years later, the Golden State added a three-day waiting period between the issuance of a marriage license and the wedding ceremony, known fondly to some as the “anti-gin law.” But in Nevada, couples didn’t face these harrowing restrictions, which is why the state remains a sanctuary for couples eager to get hitched to this day.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the cliché Las Vegas wedding, Reno has the same marriage laws as its glamorous sister city, and a diverse portfolio of wedding venues — from kitschy, vintage wedding chapels like the Park Wedding Chapel to mountaintop ceremonies, à la the Tannenbaum Events Center, not to mention the extensive list of resorts that are well-equipped to host a party to remember.
Whatever your taste, Reno has a venue that will suit your needs. So, without further delay, let’s get your special day in the World’s Biggest Little City rolling.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to the Washoe County Clerk’s website, the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies:
If you do not fall into either of these categories, no sweat. You can get ordained with AMM to qualify within the priest or minister category. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
There is also an application fee for first-time ministers required by Nevada of $30, which can be paid with cash, credit card, money order, cashier’s check, or traveler's check, as well as an additional $52 for a background check.
Washoe County may ask you to submit your official documentation, which AMM provides for a small fee, and all of which are included in our Minister Ordination Package that you can purchase from our store.
You’ll know you’re an official Reno wedding officiant when your name is searchable in the state’s database.
Now that the formal application process is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the more personal aspects of conducting the wedding ceremony. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but requires a bit of preparation. You may want to check out our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
When it comes time to sign the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the form, but just be sure to double check that they have a valid marriage license before the ceremony.
In Reno, once you have performed the ceremony and notarized the marriage license, you’re required to return the marriage license to the Washoe County Recorder’s office within 10 days of the ceremony. This is your responsibility, and failure to do so is technically a misdemeanor, so make a note of the date.
Now let’s turn our attention to the couple’s responsibilities.
Note that you must purchase a marriage license and have a marriage ceremony performed to be legally married in the State of Nevada.
You can start your marriage application by submitting a pre-application online, which will save you time when you appear at the Marriage Bureau. Remember that even if you submit an online pre-application, both partners will still need to appear at the Marriage Bureau in Reno to sign and pick up the marriage license.
The Washoe County Marriage Bureau office is located in Reno at 75 Court Street.
When you go, just remember to bring:
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Reno. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
The Basics -- Reno has a lively event calendar; its proximity to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains attracts flocks of tourists each year. It is also home to some large music festivals and major event centers, so world class artists are regular visitors. Keep this in mind when planning your wedding date and choosing your event venue, as not to overlap with another major event.
Transportation -- Reno has a reliable public bus system operated by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. If you’re from out of town and planning a wedding in the city, you may find that public transit will suffice. However, if may be best to rent a car, depending on the location of your wedding and other associated events. Lyft and Uber are available in town, as well, so if you’re not keen on renting a car, these services can be a good option.
Weather -- Peak travel season is midsummer between June and September, when the weather is dry and daytime temps average in the 90s. In December, the weather is mild and it’s snowy in the mountains, so it’s another attractive month to visit or plan a wedding ceremony, how we, you’ll have to be wary of potential snowfall when choosing your event venue.
Once you’ve registered to become ordained through AMM, you’ll have to apply to obtain a certificate of permission from Washoe County, which takes 2-3 weeks, depending on the results of your background check.
Couples can write in a new middle and/or last name to be used on their marriage certificate, but this won’t constitute a legal name change. Social Security and the DMV will still need to see a certified copy of the marriage certificate after the ceremony.