What are the Wedding Officiant Registration Requirements in West Virginia?
The West Virginia Code §48-2-402 requires that all wedding officiants are required to register with the office of the West Virginia Secretary of State before performing marriage. The application process is straightforward and is outlined below.
How To Register as an Officiant with the West Virginia Secretary of State
The West Virginia Secretary of State provides the following guidelines on officiant registration:
- 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.
- Applicant shall present certification that he or she is authorized to perform marriages by his/her church, synagogue, spiritual assembly or religious organization.
- 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.
The application shall provide at least one of the following as a statement of his/her representation of a religious group;
- a. 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
- b. 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.
REQUIRED ITEMS FOR WEST VIRGINIA OFFICIANT REGISTRATION
As of early 2021 the West Virginia Secretary of State has an online application process to register wedding officiants. Prior to this officiants had to fill out a paper application that was submitted by mail - this is now done through an online process. Despite going online, all wedding officiants in West Virginia still need to submit specific documentation reflecting their status as an ordained minister. Below are the two things you will need to successfully register as a "Marriage Celebrant" with the West Viriginia Secretary of State:
- A Letter of Good Standing
- $25 Application Fee (all major credit cards accepted)
Let us walk you through the process of registering as a wedding officiant in West Virginia. Below are step-by-step instructions to successfully register as a West Virginia wedding officiant.
STEP 1ORDER YOUR MINISTRY CREDENTIALS
Despite going digital, you will still need to order physical hardcopies of your ministry credentials to submit to the Secretary of State. You are required to upload a jpg, png, or pdf of your minister credentials to the SOS when going through their online application process.
Because the West Virginia SOS requires a specific signed document this is something you will need to order. A printout of your digital certificate will not suffice. The document the SOS requires needs to have two signatures from Church officers. Anything less will not be accepted.
Your West Virginia Minister Ordination Package contains all the required documents for successful registration with the Secretary of State. Importantly, this includes your West Virginia Letter of Good Standing that is signed by two AMM Church officers and notarized.
STEP 2MAKE A DIGITAL COPY OF YOUR WEST VIRGINIA LETTER OF GOOD STANDING
After you receive your package from us you should scan or take a picture of your Letter of Good Standing as soon as possible. You can do this with your phone, or if you have a print/scanner at home, or go to a copy shop. In addition to digitizing your Letter of Good Standing we also recommend that you do the same for your Ordination Certificate.
You are not required to submit your ordination certificate to the West Virginia Secretary of State though you can if you want. Your Letter of Good Standing is absolutely required and the SOS gives you the option to upload additional documents if you want (such as your Ordination Certificate).
Though not required, we recommend that you also upload your Ordination Certificate just to provide the West Virginia Secretary of State with more documents validating your standing as an AMM minister.
STEP 3CREATE AN ACCOUNT WITH THE WEST VIRGINIA SECRETARY OF STATE
After you have recieved your ministry credentials and made digital copies of them you can begin the online application process. The first thing you will need to do is create an account through the West Virginia Secretary of State's website. The registration page should look something like this:
STEP 4BEGIN THE ONLINE OFFICIANT REGISTRATION PROCESS WITH THE WEST VIRGINIA SECRETARY OF STATE
a. Go To The Marriage Celebrant Registration Application
You can find the Officiant Registration application on the West Virginia Secretary of State's website by going here and following the link called "Marriage Celebrant Registration".
b. Enter Your Personal Info
If you have been logged out, you will need to log back in. Otherwise you should be directed to the "Marriage Celebrant Registration" application that should look something like this:
The fields should be pretty self-explanatory. If you are unsure of what to enter for "Denominatio" we recommend that you enter "Non-Denominational". This is what you should enter if you are not invoking any specific religious ideology into the wedding ceremony.
c. Upload Your Supporting Documents
On this page you will upload your documents supporting your ministerial standing. Specifically, you will need to upload your West Virginia Letter of Good Standing. This is the document that has three signatures (two AMM officers and a notary) and the AMM gold seal.
The file cannot exceed 5mb and must be in one of the following formats: jpeg, jpg, png, pdf, bmp, tiff. We also recommend that you upload your ordination certificate as well.
d. Sign and Date Your Application
On this page you simply need to make sure the form is set to today's date and type in your full legal name for your digital signature.
e. Review Your Application
Before you submit your marriage celebrant application you will need to review the information you entered to double-check that everything is correct.
f. Pay For Your Application
And finally, your last step is to pay for your application. As stated above, you can pay with any major credit card - VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover.
g. Application Received Confirmation
If your payment successfully goes through, you will be auto-directed to an payment success page with a work order number starting with a "W" followed by a string of numbers. This means that your payment was successful, not that your marriage celebrant application has been approved.
STEP 5WAIT FOR THE WEST VIRGINIA SECRETARY OF STATE TO PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION
When your West Virginia Online Marriage Celebrant application is successfully submitted you will immediately receive a number of emails from the Secretary's office. One should be a payment confirmation and the other should be notifying you that your application has been successfully submitted and in que to be reviewed.
Pending there are no clerical errors with your application it should take the WV Secretary of State's office no more than a week to process your application and grant you the authority to officiate weddings in West Virginia. On average, expect your application to be processed in about 3-5 days.
APPROVAL OF YOUR OFFICIANT APPLICATION WITH THE WEST VIRGINIA SECRETARY OF STATE
It should take no more than a few days for the Secretary's office to process your application. Once you are approved they should notify you of this via email. The email should have a title to the effect of "West Virginia Secretary of State Internal Acceptance". In this email there should be a number of PDF attachments, including a digital certificate from the Secretary of State's office granting you the ability to perform marriage in West Virginia.
Your approval certificate should look something like this (minus the watermark and blurred out font):
You can also confirm your registration with the Secretary of State's Business & Licensing Search. Search for yourself by putting in your first and last name and selecting "Minister" from the select field labeled "Type".
Once you have confirmation that you have successfully registered with the Secretary of State's office you will have authority to perform marriage anywhere in West Virginia!
If you have further questions about the registration process you can contact the West Virginia Secretary of State:
Phone: (304) 558-8000
Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm M - F
Start Preparing for the Wedding Ceremony
Your next step is to learn how to officiate a wedding ceremony. If you have no experience, you are in good hands. Our West Virginia Wedding Officiant Preparation Guide covers all aspects of how to prepare for a wedding ceremony.
PREPARE FOR THE WEST VIRGINIA WEDDING CEREMONY
You will learn everything from the format for a wedding ceremony, the names of the ceremony parts, how to write a wedding ceremony, and more.
Use Our AMM Wedding Helper
If the process of planning, scripting, and performing a wedding is daunting, then you need our Wedding Helper suite of tools.
We have distilled years of experience into an easy-to-use platform with training materials, quizzes, a personalized ceremony script generator, and tips to prepare you for performing 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.