How to Officiate Weddings in Anchorage
American Marriage Ministries Guide to Performing Marriage in Anchortown
If you have a soft spot for a more rustic way of life and an appreciation for natural beauty, you might be a fan of the state known as the Last Frontier: Alaska. This is not a land for the faint of heart -- with its long, subarctic winters and strange daylight hours, which fluctuate throughout the year. But as extreme as this state’s living conditions are, the state’s natural wonders make it worth the while. It’s home to the stunning Northern Lights and the tallest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley.
If you’re considering getting hitched in America’s Last Frontier, we’re all for it. The state’s most populous city, Anchorage, is home to a handful of spectacular venues, like the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and the Alaska Mountain Rugby Grounds, which both offer large, architecturally stunning spaces that are perfect for a big celebration.
Or if you want to tap more into your adventurous side, book a package with Anchorage Helicopter Tours. They’ll fly you to the top of a glacier to say your vows. You can keep it simple by eloping, or have a party of up to 50 people. You’re guaranteed an adrenaline rush and an epic “I do” that you’ll never forget.
Whether you’re a long-time resident or a prospective visitor, our guide has all the info you need to start moving forward with your wedding plans.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to Alaska Statute 25.05.261(a)(2), the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies:
If you do not fall into any of these categories, that’s no problem. You can get ordained in the state of Alaska with AMM to qualify as a priest or minister. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
The other option is to skip becoming ordained and get permission to perform a ceremony by obtaining a marriage commissioner appointment from an Alaskan court. However, you’ll have to pay an additional fee to do so.
Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor like no other, but can also feel like a lot of pressure. You might like 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 to the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete it, be sure to double check that they have a valid marriage license before the ceremony.
In Anchorage, once you have performed the ceremony and signed the marriage license, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. The couple will take care of the rest. So, take the rest of the day off and head down to Anchorage Brewing Company. You’ve earned it!
Now let’s turn our attention to the couple’s responsibilities.
You can get started on your marriage license by downloading a PDF of the marriage application here. Once printed off and completed, mail it or bring it to the Vital Records Section (VRS) office in person, in either Juneau or Anchorage, or one of the other courthouses sprinkled throughout the state prior to the ceremony.
When you go to the office, also remember to bring a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport, military ID, or Tribal/BIA card.
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Anchorage. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
After the marriage has taken place and the certificate has been signed by the couple and the officiant, the couple will need to mail the original Certificate of Marriage to the VRS office in Juneau or Anchorage within one year. If the deadline is missed, the couple will need to reapply and pay another license fee.
The Basics -- While Anchorage is the most populous city in the state, there’s no shortage of space. The city stretches almost 2,000 square miles – which makes it bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island. You can see six different mountain ranges from the city: the Chugach, Kenai, Talkeetna, Tordrillo, Alaska and Aleutian.
Throughout the spring and summer, there are a few major events that attract visitors in high numbers. The world’s most famous sled dog race, the Iditarod, kicks off in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday of every March, so you’re bound to face major crowds in town that weekend. The rest of the year, the city stays pretty calm, but you may want to check the calendar to make sure that you don’t schedule your wedding on a day that attracts crowds and traffic.
Transportation -- Anchorage’s public bus system is officially (and hilariously) named the “People Mover.” It’s a reliable and cheap way to get around the city.
If you’d rather navigate Anchorage by car, you won’t have too much of a problem, as there is only one major roadway: Highway 1. By the way, it’s known as one of the most scenic drives in America.
If you don’t want to go to the expense and trouble of renting a car, ridesharing services Lyft and Uber are now well-established and fairly reliable both during the day and at night.
Weather -- Due to Alaska’s geographic positioning at 61 degrees North, days are extra long during the summer, while winter days are extra short, making for long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Average summer temperatures range from the mid 50s to the upper 70s during the day, while winter temps fluctuate from about 5 to 30 degrees.
Unless you’re prepared for your wedding and guests to be buried in snow, you should probably plan your special day between mid-May and September, when the weather is at its most pleasant (and the wildlife is most visible and accessible.)
Under Alaska state law, a minister, rabbi, elder or other religious leader is empowered to solemnize marriage. They also need to me 18 or older.
There is no place where you can specify your married name on your marriage certificate. If you want to change your name after marriage, request a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
A $60 application fee, and since it’s a bit expensive, remember to time it correctly. Once you pick up your marriage license, you need to use it within three months. After this time, it expires and you'll have to begin the process all over again.