How to Officiate Weddings in Fargo
A guide to to officiating weddings and planning ceremonies in Fargo, North Dakota
North Dakota may be one of the least visited states in the U.S. (well, it’s the least visited state) thanks to its extreme weather and distance from major metropolitan areas, but it’s also one of the Top 5 happiest states. The meaning of Dakota in the Native American Sioux language is “friend” or “ally,” which makes perfect sense for this special corner of the Midwest, where good cheer and generosity are as abundant as the incessant snowfall.
Personally, we think the Peace Garden state is a great place to tie the knot -- as long as you avoid the winter months, of course! It home to plenty of charming, unique venues and lower prices for accommodations and catering.
We’ll walk you through the logistical need-to-know info about getting your officiant ordained and your marriage license application going in the Fargo area so you can focus on the rest of the wedding planning process. Let’s get started.
STEP 1: Get ordained with American Marriage Ministries
Let’s start with the ordainment process. According to Cass County Clerk’s website, the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies: “a judge of a court of record, a retired judge of a court of record, a court administrator, a retired court administrator with the approval of the chief judge of the judicial district, a former court commissioner who is employed by the court system or is acting pursuant to an order of the chief judge of the commissioner’s judicial district, the residential school superintendent of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.”
None of these titles sound like you? Don’t worry. You can get ordained with AMM to become an official minister recognized by the North Dakota state government. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
When it comes time to perform your duties as the officiant, Cass County may ask you to present documentation, which AMM provides for a fee. (You can call the county clerk’s office before you perform the ceremony to ask if they will require you to bring the certificate in person, or just purchase the paperwork from our store just to be safe.)
STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in Cass County
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, but can feel like a lot of pressure. You will appreciate 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.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
When it comes time to sign the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license, but just be sure the marriage license is returned to the county clerk’s office within 5 days of the ceremony.
File for the Marriage License from the Cass County Clerk's Office
Both applicants must apply together in person to complete the application. Note that applicants do not have to be Cass County residents in order to obtain a marriage license, and a North Dakota marriage license allows a couple to get married anywhere within the state.
To obtain your marriage license, both members of the couple will have to visit the county clerk’s office at 211 9th Street, South Fargo.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- Photo ID with them (driver’s license or passport)
- Social security numbers (social security card preferred but not required)
Once you obtain a marriage license, you will need to have a ceremony with an officiant and at least two witnesses. Couples, of course, have the option of having a religious ceremony at a church or other venue, or a civil ceremony inside or out of the courthouse.
Below is the fast info pertaining to marriage licenses issued in North Dakota for reference.
Issuance Office: 211 9th Street, South Fargo
Waiting Period: None
Expiration: 60 days
Return: by Couple
The Basics -- North Dakota has the most churches per capita in the U.S., so if you want to have a traditional church ceremony, you won’t have trouble finding one that suits you. Many churches will even rent out the space when services are not underway, so it’s worth checking.
As far as reception areas, North Dakota has a number of great indoor and outdoor wedding venues. The Colonel Hankinson Historic Barn is one great options. Its 5,000 feet of refurbished space sits beneath a beautiful gothic arched roof, which you have to see to appreciate. It also has a bed and breakfast on sight, so it’s perfect for a couple that needs to host guests from out of town.
The 1908 House in Hatton is another unique option. This Victorian house has a view of the North Goose River, which you can observe from it outside spaces, like the large deck and pergola.
If you want a really unique can even tie the knot at the Plains Art Museum, which makes for a very elegant affair. The options are limitless!
Transportation -- The public transportation in Fargo, the MATBUS, is a good way to get around town, but locals say it can be somewhat sporadic, especially when the weather is acting up. If you have guests coming from out of town, you may advise them to use ride-sharing services rather than public transportation. Uber and Lyft are both available in Fargo. If your guests are around for a few extra days, it might be best to rent a car.
Weather -- Fargo has been voted the toughest weather city in America by the Weather Channel, which has become a point of pride for North Dakotans, but doesn’t really benefit wedding planning. Throughout the year, temperatures can span from 20 below freezing in the dead of winter to over 100 degrees in the summer.
Late May through October are considered the best months in Fargo. In the mid-summer, temperatures generally stay around 80 degrees. Early summer is the ideal time to plan an outdoor wedding.