Minister Licensing Requirements in the State of the District of Columbia
Minister Required to Register with District Washington DC Code 46-406
Minimum Minister Age: 18 Years
Minister's Residency: Irrelevant
Same-Sex Marriage Recognized: Yes
Minister Registration Requirements
Required by the Superior Court Marriage Bureau
- Application for Authorization to Celebrate Marriages in the District of Columbia
- Ordination Certificate
Application Fee: $35
Minister Licensing Office
Minister are Required to Register with the:
Please select a county to view their specific contact information.
How to Perform Marriage
1. Become an Ordained Minister
American Marriage Ministries is a non-profit, interfaith and non-denominational church with the mission to ensure that all people have the right to perform marriage. We offer ordination to all people, regardless of religious background or spiritual philosophy, that agree with our three tenets:
- All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
- It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
- All people have the right to solemnize marriage.
Applying to become an AMM Minister is not a declaration of exclusive faith; it is an act of fellowship, allowing our tenets to coexist with personal beliefs. We believe that people of all backgrounds can find community within the simple tenets of our faith.
About Our Ordination
The AMM ordination is free, requires no special course of study, and takes only a moment. Our goal is to help people on their path to performing marriage for friends and family.
The act of solemnizing marriage historically belonged to the people, and only recently has it become the domain of the state. A marriage is a momentus spiritual event, but the legal act of solemnizing marriage is nothing more than signing a piece of paper; a task that does not necessitate the time, expense, and academia of a traditional seminarial degree.
If you have been asked by people close to you to solemnize their marriage, we believe you have the right to.
2. Prepare for Performing Marriage
Preparing to officiate a wedding involves two major steps:
- Complying with any applicable government regulations.
- Preparing what you will say for the ceremony.
We will discuss both steps below, but to fully utilize our resources we recommend that you register the wedding that you will perform with the AMM Wedding Helper - a free tool for AMM Ministers.
a. Minister Licensing Requirements
All minister must register with the DC Marriage Bureau prior to performing marriage. The application fee with the Marriage Bureau is $35. You do not have to be a DC resident in order to register though you do need to be at least 18 years of age. Same-sex marriages are recognized in the District of Columbia.
The DC Marriage Bureau provides two ways to apply to be "Authorized to Celebrate Marriage" in the District. One is to register with the standard officiant application and the other is to register with the temporary officiant application.
As an AMM minister we recommend that you register using the standard officiant application regardless of whether you are planning on performing a single ceremony or not. The following instructions are for registering using the standard officiant application.
You can download, print, and complete the officiant application directly from the DC Marriage Bureau's website. The following instructions are to assist in completing the application:
- Enter your name in the top field.
- For the checkboxes, check the top one and enter "American Marriage Ministries" in the blank space.
- Sign and date the form. (Do not do this until you are in the presence of a notary.)
- Enter your mailing address and telephone number.
- Have the form notarized. You can find a local notary with a quick Google search. In addition, many banks offer free notarial services.
- When submitting the application, do not forget the $35 fee.
Once completed, you can mail in your application or submit in person to:
District of Columbia Marriage Bureau
Moultrie Courthouse 500 Indiana Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20001
Based on past experience you should be registered the same day your application is received by the DC Marriage Bureau.
If you have further questions, you can contact the DC Marriage Bureau at:
Phone: (202) 879-4840
Hours: 8:30am - 5pm M-F
Though not required, we encourage you to order your District of Columbia DC Minister Licensing Package. The minister licensing package includes your Ordination Certificate, Letter of Good Standing, is good to keep for your own records, and helps support AMM.
Standard shipping for all orders is 3-10 business days, depending on where in the country your package is being shipped.
b. Preparing the Ceremony
Many AMM Ministers get ordained to perform their first marriage and are often unsure of the process. Aside from legal concerns, the biggest fear most people have is public speaking. Plan ahead, practice, and you will do a great job!
A typical wedding ceremony is only 10 - 20 minutes and follows a time tested format. When you speak, remember that you were personally chosen by the couple, and that the most important two people already have faith in your ability. Weddings are a celebration with friends and family – the best audience anyone could ask for.
If you have never conducted a wedding or are simply want to refresh your knowledge, visit the Wedding Training section.
Our resources are here to walk you through a wedding ceremony, discussing structure, providing samples, and more.
Every wedding is unique, and the couple will want to personalize the format of their ceremony. Since you already know them, you should have no trouble collaborating and choosing your words for the ceremony.
Once the script is set, we highly recommend that you rehearse the ceremony by yourself and in front of friends. With enough practice, you will be fully prepared to confidently officiate your first wedding.
3. Officiate the Wedding
By this point you should be fully prepared to officiate. Perform the ceremony and have fun!
Handling the Marriage License
After the ceremony it is time for official recordkeeping. The couple will present their marriage license for you and the witnesses. The minister's job is to look over the license, confirm that the information is accurate, and complete the officiant's section.
In the eyes of the state, solemnizing marriage is the act of administering a contract (the marriage license) between two people.
Marriage licenses vary dramatically in appearance, but all ask for a similar set of information. Our How to Complete a Marriage License page explains all of the details that may be required on a marriage license.
Once completed, you or the couple must return the license to its office of issuance (usually by mail). In District of Columbia, completed marriage licenses must be returned within 10 days of the wedding. The license is then recorded by the state and the marriage becomes a legal binding contract.
About the Marriage License (FOR THE COUPLE)
* This information is not for the minister but for the couple, and is included for reference.
Couples getting married in District of Columbia must file for a marriage license with the Marriage Bureau's office before their wedding day. The state will not recognize a marriage without a marriage license.
District of Columbia Marriage License Info:
Issuing Office: Marriage Bureau
Statewide License Cost: $35
Waiting Period: 3 days to receive
Expiration: No Expiration
Return: 10 Days from Wedding
Waiting Period: The minimum amount of time the couple must wait to get married from the date that they are granted their marriage license.
Expiration: The amount of time that the marriage license is valid from its issuance date.
Return: The amount of time that the completed marriage license must be returned after the wedding.
That’s all there is to it!
As of April 28th, 2017, American Marriage Ministries has ordained 460 AMM Ministers in the State of the District of Columbia, who have registered 30 weddings. What's This?Top
Washington DC Code
46-406 Persons authorized to celebrate marriages
(a) For the purposes of this section, the term:
(1) "Religious" includes or pertains to a belief in a theological doctrine, a belief in and worship of a divine ruling power, a recognition of a supernatural power controlling man's destiny, or a devotion to some principle, strict fidelity or faithfulness, conscientiousness, pious affection, or attachment.
(2) "Society" means a voluntary association of individuals for religious purposes.
(b) For the purpose of preserving the evidence of marriages in the District of Columbia, every minister of any religious society approved or ordained according to the ceremonies of his religious society, whether his residence is in the District of Columbia or elsewhere in the United States or the territories, may be authorized by any judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to celebrate marriages in the District of Columbia. Marriages may also be performed by any judge or justice of any court of record; provided, that marriages of any religious society which does not by its own custom require the intervention of a minister for the celebration of marriages may be solemnized in the manner prescribed and practiced in any such religious society, the license in such case to be issued to, and returns to be made by, a person appointed by such religious society for that purpose. The Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia or such deputy clerks of the Court as may, in writing, be designated by the Clerk and approved by the Chief Judge, may celebrate marriages in the District of Columbia.
(c) No priest, imam, rabbi, minister, or other official of any religious society who is authorized to solemnize or celebrate marriages shall be required to solemnize or celebrate any marriage.
(d) Each religious society has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that particular religious society's faith.
(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious society, or a nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods for a purpose related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious programs, counseling, courses, or retreats, that is in violation of the religious society's beliefs.
(2) A refusal to provide services, accommodations, facilities, or goods in accordance with this subsection shall not create any civil claim or cause of action, or result in a District action to penalize or withhold benefits from the religious society or nonprofit organization that is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious society.
Title 46: Domestic Relations - Subtitle 1: General - Chapter 4: Marriage
CREDIT(S) (Mar. 3, 1901, 31 Stat. 1392, ch. 854, Â§ 1288; Apr. 23, 1904, 33 Stat. 297, ch. 1490, Â§ 1; June 25, 1948, 62 Stat. 991, ch. 646, Â§ 32(a), (b); May 24, 1949, 63 Stat. 107, ch. 139, Â§ 127; July 5, 1966, 80 Stat. 264, Pub. L. 89-493, Â§ 13(a), (b); July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, Â§ 155(a); Jan. 26, 1982, D.C. Law 4-60, Â§ 2, 28 DCR 4768; Mar. 3, 2010, D.C. Law 18-110, Â§ 2(d), 57 DCR 27.) HISTORICAL AND STATUTORY NOTES Prior Codifications 1981 Ed., Â§ 30-106. 1973 Ed., Â§ 30-106. Effect of Amendments D.C. Law 18-110 added subsecs. (c), (d), and (e). Legislative History of Laws Law 4-60 was introduced in Council and assigned Bill No. 4-251, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The Bill was adopted on first and second readings on September 15, 1981, and September 29, 1981, respectively. Signed by the Mayor on October 30, 1981, it was assigned Act No. 4-106 and transmitted to both Houses of Congress for its review. For Law 18-110, see notes following Â§ 46-401. DC CODE Â§ 46-406 Current through January 11, 2012