How to Officiate Weddings in New Orleans
A guide for officiating weddings and planning ceremonies in the Big Easy
New Orleans is the wedding destination of choice for couples looking to make a spicy entry into holy matrimony. It’s a one-of-a-kind cultural gold mine, with a rich history that draws on diverse Latin, African American and Creole cultures -- as well as the party capital of the American South.
New Orleans’ concentration of old and new venues offers something for every couple, from legendary jazz clubs, to Instagram-ready Southern Plantation Estates, to elegant Eden-like gardens and parks. Whatever your needs, New Orleans is sure to deliver a party your guests won’t soon forget.
But before you dig out your lace parasol and sequin mask from that one epic Mardis Gras party in college, we’ll walk you through how to apply for, fill out, sign and submit a marriage license, and cover some important tips for wedding officiants and couples exploring the idea of a New Orleans wedding.
STEP 1: Get Ordained with American Marriage Ministries
The Louisiana Revised Statutes § Sec. 202 states that "...A priest, minister, rabbi, clerk of the Religious Society of Friends, or any clergyman of any religious sect, who is authorized by the authorities of his religion to perform marriages, and who is registered to perform marriages..." is authorized to solemnize marriages.
The first thing you need to do is get ordained with AMM. Our ordination is free, takes only a few minutes, and meets the Louisiana Revised Statute § Sec. 202. Beyond getting ordained, you will also have to register with the New Orleans Parish Clerk.
Minister Registration in New Orleans
The Orleans Parish (Louisiana is the only U.S. state that does not have counties, but parishes) requires that officiants submit a form in person or via mail with a copy of the officiant’s driver’s license and ordination certificate.
The fastest and easiest way to register with the New Orleans Parish Clerk's office is to order your Louisiana Minister Ordination Package. Your package includes all the required documentation that you will need for successfull registration including your official ministry credentials and the "Louisiana Marriage Officiant Registration Affidavit".
Once you have filled out the paperwork, return completed forms by mail to Clerk of Court in parish at the following address:
Center for Records and Statistics ATTN: Marriage Office
P.O. Box 60630 New Orleans, LA 70160
STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in New Orleans
Getting ordained as an AMM minister is the easy part. Your next step is to prepare for the wedding ceremony. For first-time officiants, our wedding training pages are a great resource for learning everything you need to know to perform your first wedding ceremony.
Here we cover everything from explaining the structure of a wedding ceremony, step-by-step instructions on how to write a wedding ceremony script, sample wedding ceremony scripts, and more.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
By this point you should be well prepared to conduct the wedding ceremony. Your one legal responsibility is to complete your section of the couple's marriage license.
Once you, the officiant, have conducted the marriage ceremony, you will be required to verify information on the marriage license, like the date, and the couple’s names. Then the completed marriage license must be returned to the New Orleans Parish Clerk’s office after the ceremony.
For more details on filling in the individual fields such as “type of ceremony,” please consult our guide on how to complete a marriage license.
Once the completed marriage license is returned, you have performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant.
File for the Marriage License from the New Orleans Parish Clerk's Office
Licenses are issued at two locations in New Orleans: the Orleans Parish Marriage License Office, and the Second City Court of New Orleans in the Historic Algiers Courthouse. For the couple to obtain their marriage license, both parties must be present before the county clerk. The couple needs to provide proof of identity and age, complete the necessary forms, and take the oath printed on the application before the county clerk. When you go, don’t forget the following:
● A driver's license, state-issued photo ID, or U.S. passport
● Both parties’ birth certificates
● Both parties’ social security numbers (the card is not required, just the number)
● $27.50 in cash plus $5 for each copy of the marriage license requested.
● Two witnesses
Below is important information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in New Orleans. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
Issuance Office: New Orleans County Clerk's Office
Waiting Period: 3 Days Before Completing
Expiration: 30 Days
Return: Before Expiration
The Basics -- New Orleans is an ideal location for a party-to-remember, but bear in mind that the city is host to a number of popular parades and festivals. Most obviously, the Mardis Gras parade takes place in mid-February each year, but there are also a number of highly-attended jazz festivals that kick off in early spring that you should consider when planning your special day.
Take your time exploring the many choices the city offers in terms of venues. New Orleans is full of century-old churches and mansions that are perfect for a traditional, regal event. Many of these venues are located in the famous French Quarter district, which means your guests will have lots of options for hotels and entertainment.
You can also mix it up with an alternative reception setting, like the countless gardens and courtyards available to rent. Or, how about taking a party boat, like the famous Creole Queen, down the Mississippi River? The options are limitless. traditions.
Transportation -- Public transportation in New Orleans is fairly popular with the locals. The city offers a reliable network of bus lines, as well as a charming street car, the St. Charles line, which the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world. It’s been running since 1835! Make sure to check the Regional Transit Authority’s website to see if guests are able to use the bus or streetcar on their way to your event, otherwise Lyft and Uber are both available in the city.
Weather -- The best weather in New Orleans occurs between February and May, when the climate is still fairly cool, but it’s also when most of the city’s parties take place. When it comes time to schedule your wedding, consider choosing a date that doesn’t overlap with a major festival, or be prepared for higher hotel and transportation prices.
Autumn is beautiful in New Orleans. The humidity and heat are less extreme, but it’s worth noting that the area gets about two tropical storms every three years during hurricane season, which lasts from June to November. But let that stop you from planning a New Orleans wedding during the fall -- just keep an eye on the weather as your date approaches, and take that into consideration when booking venue.
Summer months can get extremely hot and humid, so if you’re planning a summer wedding, you may want to consider an indoor venue.
Finding the right wedding officiant starts with a conversation about what sort of wedding ceremony you want to have. Will it be a big, public event, or a small intimate ceremony with family and close friends? Once you’ve got that squared away, here are some points to consider when choosing an officiant:
● You want an officiant who is compatible with the ceremony you are planning. That means someone who is articulate, who is not afraid to speak in front of an audience, and who understands the honor of being asked to deliver your ceremony.
● Find an officiant who shares your values and beliefs. You want someone who will work with you to create a ceremony that is meaningful and personal to you. Consider asking someone who has known you since you were both kids, has grown with you, and who shares your vision and spiritual disposition.
● Make sure to give the family member or friend time to think about their answer, and (this is a tough one!) don’t take it personally if they say ‘no.’
● Seek seek guidance and assistance, especially if this is the friend or family member’s first time delivering a wedding ceremony.