Minister Licensing Requirements in the State of West Virginia

Minister Required to Register with State West Virginia Code 48-2-401

Minimum Minister Age: 18 Years

Minister's Residency: Irrelevant

Same-Sex Marriage Recognized: Yes

Minister Registration Requirements
Required by the Secretary of State

  1. West Virginia Minister Application
  2. Ordination Certificate
  3. Letter of Good Standing
Application Fee: $25

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:

  1. All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
  2. It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
  3. 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:

  1. Complying with any applicable government regulations.
  2. 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 ministers in West Virginia are required to register with the West Virginia County Clerk prior to performing marriage. The application fee with the County Clerk is $25. You do not have to be a West Virginia resident in order to register though you do need to be at least 18 years of age. Same-sex marriages are recognized in West Virginia.

The County Clerk requires the following documents:

  1. West Virginia Minister Application
  2. Ordination Certificate
  3. Letter of Good Standing

The West Virginia County Clerk's Minister Application provides the following guidelines:

  1. Applicant must be 18 years of age or older. Show proof by submitting a copy of his/her birth certificate, driver’s license, military ID or passport.
  2. Applicant shall present certification that he or she is authorized to perform marriages by his/her church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization
  3. Applicant shall present documentation that he/she is in regular communion with the church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization of which he/she is a member.
  4. The application shall provide at least one of the following as a statement of his/her representation of a religious group;
    1. An official ordination paper from a church, synagogue, spiritual assembly organization, group or school showing that the person is an ordained minister for that group; or
    2. A letter or document signed by at least two members of a group stating that the person requesting to be registered to perform marriages ministers to that group and is in regular communion with that group.

We recommend that you order your West Virginia Minister Licensing Package. It includes everything you need to register with the County Clerk. Your Ordination Certificate meets points 2 and 4a and your Letter of Good Standing meets points 3 and 4b (Your Letter of Good Standing is signed by two AMM Officers and notarized). You need to provide your own personal ID.

Standard shipping for all orders is 3-10 business days, depending on where in the country your package is being shipped. We also offer expedited shipping methods in case you are on a tighter timeline.

Application Instructions

Your Minister Licensing Package comes with a completed Minister Application that you will need to sign. You can also print and complete the form yourself.

If completing the application yourself, for the field "Denomination" we recommend that you put "Non-Denominational" unless the marriage was celebrated in accordance with a specific denominational rite, which you should specify.

Filing Instructions

Once all your paperwork is in order, you need to mail everything, including the $25 application fee to the:

West Virginia County Clerk
Building 1, Suite 157-K 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305

After your registration with the County Clerk is approved you will be listed in their Minister Search (under "Type" select "Minister") and will be able to perform marriage.

For further inquiries, you can contact the West Virginia County Clerk at:
Phone: (304) 558-8000
Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm M-F

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 West Virginia, completed marriage licenses must be returned within 60 days of its issuance. 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 West Virginia must file for a marriage license with the County Clerk's office before their wedding day. The state will not recognize a marriage without a marriage license.

West Virginia Marriage License Info:

Issuing Office: County Clerk

Statewide License Cost: $56

Waiting Period: 3 days before completing

Expiration: 60 Days

Return: Before Expiration

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 February 19th, 2018, American Marriage Ministries has ordained 842 AMM Ministers in the State of West Virginia, who have registered 300 weddings. What's This?


West Virginia Code

Solemnization Of Marriage

48-2-401 Persons authorized to perform marriages

A religious representative who has complied with the provisions of section 2-402, a family court judge, a circuit judge or a justice of the supreme court of appeals, is authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage in any county of this state. Celebration or solemnization of a marriage means the performance of the formal act or ceremony by which a man and woman contract marriage and assume the status of husband and wife.

For purposes of this chapter, the term "religious representative" means a minister, priest or rabbi and includes, without being limited to, a leader or representative of a generally recognized spiritual assembly, church or religious organization which does not formally designate or recognize persons as ministers, priests or rabbis.

Chapter 48: Domestic Relations - Article 2: Marriages - Part 4: Marriage Ceremony

Minister Licensing

48-2-402 Qualifications of religious representative for celebrating marriages; registry of persons authorized to perform marriage ceremonies; special revenue fund

(a) Beginning the first day of September, two thousand one, the Secretary of State shall, upon payment of the registration fee established by the Secretary of State pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, make an order authorizing a person who is a religious representative to celebrate the rites of marriage in all the counties of the state, upon proof that the person:

(1) Is eighteen years of age or older;

(2) Is duly authorized to perform marriages by his or her church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization; and

(3) Is in regular communion with the church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization of which he or she is a member.

(b) The Secretary of State shall establish a central registry of persons authorized to celebrate marriages in this state. Every person authorized under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section to celebrate marriages shall be listed in this registry. Every county clerk shall, prior to the first day of October, two thousand one, transmit to the Secretary of State the name of every person authorized to celebrate marriages by order issued in his or her county since one thousand nine hundred sixty and the Secretary of State shall include these names in the registry. The completed registry and periodic updates shall be transmitted to every county clerk.

(c)(1) Upon written request from the registrant, the Secretary of State shall designate the registrant as inactive on the registry.

(2) Upon written notice from the governing body of the registrant's authorizing body that the registrant has died or that the registrant's authority to perform marriages has been revoked, the Secretary of State shall attempt to notify the registrant of the change in the registrant's status by United States mail addressed to the registrant's last known address. If the registrant fails to provide the Secretary of State with proof of good standing with his or her authorizing body within thirty days, the registrant shall be designated on the registry as inactive.

(d) A fee not to exceed twenty-five dollars may be charged by the Secretary of State for each registration or reactivation of an individual designated as inactive on the registry received on or after the first day of September, two thousand one, and all money received shall be deposited in a special revenue revolving fund designated the Marriage Celebrants Registration Fee Administration Fund in the State Treasury to be administered by the Secretary of State. Expenses incurred by the secretary in the implementation and operation of the registry program shall be paid from the fund.

(e) No marriage performed by a person authorized by law to celebrate marriages may be invalidated solely because the person was not listed in the registry provided for in this section.

(f) The Secretary of State shall promulgate rules to implement the provisions of this section.

Chapter 48: Domestic Relations - Article 2: Marriages - Part 4: Marriage Ceremony

Minister Licensing

48-2-405 Record of marriage to be kept by person officiating

A record of each marriage performed, with the names of the parties, their respective places of residence prior to marriage, and the date of marriage, shall be kept by the officiating religious representative in the permanent record of the church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization which he or she serves.

Chapter 48: Domestic Relations - Article 2: Marriages - Part 4: Marriage Ceremony

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