Last Updated: October 11th, 2023

Who Can Officiate Weddings in California?

The California Marriage Laws specify who can legally perform marriage in the State. The legal term for the act of conducting a wedding ceremony is called "Solemnization of Marriage". The people with the authority to perform this act are religious and government officials. For most Americans, getting ordained is the easiest way to gain the legal right to solemnize weddings.


According to the California Law § 400


" (a) Although marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil, and not a religious, contract, a marriage may be solemnized by a priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination who is 18 years of age or older. A person authorized by this subdivision shall not be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision, either by an individual or by a religious denomination, shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any entity. "


- This is an Excerpt. Read The Full Statute on Our California Marriage Laws -

AMM Ordination Guarantee

As an online ordained minister of American Marriage Ministries, you will be joining a network of over 1,328,773 ministers who have officiated hundreds of thousands of weddings all across the country. As an AMM minister, you are legally empowered under the protections of the California Law § 400 to officiate wedding ceremonies.

We understand that officiating a wedding is a huge honor and a serious responsibility. Our job is to show you how to get ordained in California covering both the legal and ceremonial steps needed to perform a wedding in the state. Our mission is to empower you not just to perform marriage, but to do so with confidence and skill. And know that you are in great company, joining over 166,374 AMM ministers in California!



American Marriage Ministries has been ordaining people just like you for over a decade. If you're looking to learn how to get ordained in Texas, our officiant training resources are the best, available both online and in print. We make ordination easy so that you can focus on conducting an awesome wedding ceremony. And that's not just us saying it.


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AMM is an inclusive institution. We welcome people of all backgrounds. It is not important to us if you are black or white, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, gay or straight.

What is important is that you have a sincere desire to officiate weddings for people you care about. We support your right to officiate weddings that reflect your values, the couple's, and your community's.


California Marriage Officiant License


As an online ordained minister you are one step closer to performing marriage in California. In addition to our free online ordination, we provide all the officiant training materials you need to officiate a wedding in California with confidence. Whether you will be officiating weddings in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, or even Modesto, AMM has everything you need to create an amazing ceremony.

Your next step is to observe any officiant registration required by the California Government. Click on the button below to learn more.


How To Become a Wedding Officiant in California

If the process of planning, scripting, and performing a wedding is daunting, then you need our Wedding Helper suite of tools.

Perfect for those learning how to get ordained in California, and getting ready for the big day, our platform offers comprehensive training materials, quizzes, a personalized ceremony script generator, and tips to prepare you for performing a marriage – all accessible through your minister profile.

That's only the beginning. After the wedding, you can share your wedding on the AMM Wedding Wall with our nationwide network of ministers.


About American Marriage Ministries

We are American Marriage Ministries, an IRS Certified 501c3 Non-Profit Church with the mission to empower people of all backgrounds to officiate weddings. American Marriage Ministries was founded on July 4, 2009 in Washington State. In that time we have ordained over 1,328,773 ministers all across the United States. To join our nationwide community of AMM ministers, you simply need to agree to our three simple 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.



How you officiate weddings is up to you, the couple, and the members of your community. You will be one of over 166,374 AMM ministers in California who have realized their right to perform marriage.


You can also help by ordering your official ministry credentials from our store. Part of the proceeds goes to our charitable activities, which support other non-profit charities such as Feeding America and Help Hope Live, as well as funding our legal and social advocacy efforts to ensure marriage equality across the country.

When you purchase a package from us, you get your official ordination certificate and you get to help support a positive cause!

To learn more about American Marriage Ministries, check out our About Us page. If you have further questions, feel free to visit our FAQ or simply contact us.



Do I have to be ordained to perform a marriage ceremony in California?

Yes, if you wish to solemnize a marriage in California, you must be ordained. Under California’s Family Code section 400, eligible wedding officiants include priests, ministers, rabbis, or other authorized persons from any religious denomination who are 18 years of age or older. Discover how to get ordained in California quickly through an organization like American Marriage Ministries (AMM)—our ordination process is free and entirely online. Once ordained, you can perform marriage ceremonies across the state. We advise consulting with the county clerk's office where the ceremony will occur to verify specific local requirements.

How can I legally officiate a wedding in California?

To legally officiate a wedding in California, you must be an ordained minister or an authorized person from any religious denomination. Here's how to become ordained in California with AMM: Begin by familiarizing yourself with California Family Code Section 400, which outlines the officiant requirements. Then, get ordained quickly and at no cost through our online platform at AMM, where we provide you with your minister's license and ordination certificate. We also offer a comprehensive, free online training program to prepare you for your role. After learning how to officiate a wedding in California, you'll receive your minister's license, which is necessary for performing weddings. On the big day, your responsibilities will include conducting the ceremony, pronouncing the couple married, and completing the marriage license. 

How much does it cost to get ordained in California?

At American Marriage Ministries, you can learn how to get ordained in California for free. Our online ordination is recognized under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, allowing you to become a wedding officiant without financial cost. While the ordination itself is free, some counties may charge nominal fees for official documentation or special registrations, which are typically minimal and vary by county.


Does California recognize online ordained ministers?

Yes, the state legally recognizes ministers who get ordained online in California as fully valid. Online ordination is as legitimate as traditional routes such as seminaries or other religious training programs. If you're exploring how to get ordained in CA, choosing to get ordained through AMM provides a valid and officially recognized path to support love and commitment across diverse communities throughout the state.


How long does it take to get ordained in California?

If you want to become ordained in California through American Marriage Ministries, the process is simple and can be completed online in just a few minutes at no cost. You will receive an ordination certificate and all necessary ministerial credentials via email immediately after application. There is no mandatory waiting period or residency requirement, allowing you to start officiating weddings right away.


How long does getting ordained in California last?

Once you become ordained online in California through American Marriage Ministries, your ordination is valid for life with no expiration or renewal required, provided you maintain your affiliation with AMM. There is no need for state or county registration for wedding officiants, and there are no ongoing fees to keep your ordination status active. However, it is crucial to keep your ordination certificate and any relevant documents safe, as you may need to present them in the future. Learning how to be ordained in California through AMM ensures a lifetime of opportunities to officiate weddings without additional bureaucracy.


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