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Category: Officiant Training

Can A Nun Become Ordained?

We are often asked: are Catholic nuns allowed to become ordained? Our answer is yes. And no.

Nuns Ordained As Priests Praying (Photo)

Nuns may be ordained to serve as wedding officiants, in accordance with state laws.

We’ll start with the “no.” Current canon law and the church’s catechism directs that “only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination” to serve as a priest — and only male priests can lead a parish of Catholic Christians, celebrate Mass, and bring new members into the church through Baptism.

However, while they are not permitted to celebrate Mass, nuns may become ordained in compliance with state law, which does not restrict sisters from performing marriage ceremonies as an Officiant.

Ordination through First Nation Ministry complies with all state laws, and is respectful of church law as well. Your title when ordained is “Officiant,” so you are not treading in territory reserved solely for priests within the Catholic church.

…Assuming that there are no obvious impediments to marriage, a lay Catholic who is qualified by the state to preside at civil marriages may do so for non-Catholics who are not bound by Catholic marital law.

— Catholic Answers

In nearly all cases, nuns ordained as Marriage Officiants are not permitted by the Catholic church to perform wedding ceremonies within a parish-owned church building, but they can perform marriages in other facilities, such as public halls, parks, restaurants or private homes.

(Most convents do not permit marriage ceremonies to be performed on site under any circumstances.)

While it is still not common for nuns and sisters to serve as ordained Wedding Officiants — we know of only a dozen or so currently in the United States — there are no legal impediments to serving, although you should discuss the situation with your convent’s superior prior to seeking ordination.

Are you ready to become ordained as a Wedding Officiant?

Please click here to begin the ordination process.


Performing A Wedding Ceremony At Burning Man?

How many people do you know that got married at Burning Man? It seems almost de rigueur these days that if you’re spending time on the playa, you might as well have your wedding on the playa.

The single most important thing to keep in mind if you are planning to get married during Burning Man is that you must obtain your marriage license in advance — don’t wait until the very last minute!

Your marriage license must be obtained in Nevada. You cannot bring an out-of-state marriage license into Nevada — your California, Arizona or Oregon marriage license is not valid in the Silver State.

Burning Man Wedding Officiant, Pershing County Clerk Seal (Image)If you are coming through Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City or elsewhere in Nevada, you can pick up your marriage license at any County Clerk’s office in the state. (A Nevada marriage license is valid everywhere in Nevada, including Burning Man.)

For Burning Man, the “local” county clerk’s office is at 400 Main Street in LovelockBoth parties must appear in person at the Pershing County Clerk’s Office. Appointments are not necessary during regular hours.

The fee for a marriage license is $60, payable by cash, cashier’s check, or money order. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted. Applications are valid for one year anywhere in the State of Nevada.

Click here for information on Burning Man weddings on the Pershing County Clerk’s website.

If you are planning to get married at the Burning Man event by an out-of-state Wedding Officiant, you may obtain your marriage license anywhere in Nevada; however, the Officiant must apply with Pershing County Clerk’s Office for permission to perform your ceremony.

You may choose a friend or family member to perform the ceremony, but that person must first be legally ordained and must register with Pershing County prior to performing the ceremony.

If your chosen Officiant is already ordained, he or she may request the Pershing County minister endorsement from us by clicking here.

If your chosen Officiant isn’t already ordained, please contact us using the form below for complete instructions. (And don’t worry — the ordination process to become a marriage minister is actually simple and hassle-free!)


Burning Man Love Sculpture (Photo)

Burning Man Love Sculpture

Is A Religious Degree Also Considered “Ordination”?

Recently, D. asked us:

I have finished all but two classes in my ordination tract because of needing to perform ceremonies. My degree is my license, right?

Keep in mind that, unless it is specifically designated as such, a degree does not generally convey ordination on the degree holder.

Ordination, per se, is an action taken by a church board to designate certain persons as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. (A person’s license as a minister is also generally granted as part of the ordination process, not as part of the educational or training path.)

The degree recognizes that you’ve attained a certain specific level of training and education, but does not necessarily mean that you are ordained as clergy.

How To Become A Wedding Officiant

Minister and wedding officiant ordination (Photo)

Once you’re ordained and licensed as a minister, you can perform marriage ceremonies almost everywhere.

Let’s say that you’ve been asked to perform the marriage ceremony for your best friend or, perhaps, your favorite cousin. What’s the process you must go through to become ordained as a minister and wedding officiant?

Basically, the person performing a marriage ceremony must be legally ordained by a church or religious organization. Becoming ordained means that you are licensed to serve as an officiant (or celebrant, or ceremonial minister) and may perform weddings and other rites, such as funerals, baby blessings, and vow renewals.

You’re probably wondering how complicated the ordination process is, and how many years of education and on-the-job training you’ll have to undergo.

We’ll get those two questions out of the way immediately: the ordination process is actually quite simple, and there is no educational or training requirement — except one, which we’ll get to shortly.

Ordination simply means that we have confirmed who you are, made sure that you are of legal age to perform a marriage ceremony (in most states, it’s either 16 or 18 years old) and that you are capable of witnessing the bridal couple’s signatures on their marriage license, which you are generally required to return to the issuing agency (usually the County Clerk’s office) following the ceremony.

Photo of a wedding officiant performing a ceremony

You don’t have to be a priest or minister to become a wedding officiant!

Through First Nation, the ordination process typically takes only a few business days. Depending upon which state the ceremony is taking place in, you can often request what is known as Basic Ordination, which allows you to legally perform a single marriage ceremony during a one-year period.

Keep in mind that your ordination level must comply with the laws of the state that the ceremony is taking place in, regardless of where you live. For example, if you live in Ohio, but the ceremony is taking place in Kentucky, your ordination must comply with Kentucky’s laws. If, however, you live in Ohio and the ceremony is taking place in Ohio, your ordination must comply with Ohio’s laws.

Do you know which state the marriage ceremony will take place in? Click here to begin the ordination process.

Here are a couple of fast facts to remember:

  1. Every state has a law that requires wedding officiants to be legally ordained prior to performing a marriage ceremony in their state. You cannot simply proclaim yourself to be “ordained” — it must be done legally through a church or religious organization.
  2. Most (but not all) states, including California and Texas, recognize and accept basic-level ordination, which is valid for performing a single ceremony only.
  3. Most (but not all) states do not have a local registration requirement. What this means is that if your ordination status is active and verifiable, then you do not have to register with any government agency in the state, although you must submit a copy of your credentials to any legal authority upon their request.
  4. Not a resident of the state where the ceremony is taking place? No problem! As long as you are legally ordained, non-resident marriage officiants are permitted to serve in any state, although a few states will require you to submit your credentials to them before performing the ceremony.

Again, most states accept Basic Ordination. Several states and local jurisdictions, however, do require you to register with them after being ordained but before performing a ceremony. Those locations include:

Note that we listed New York City above, but not New York State — that’s because if the ceremony is taking place in one of the five boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx) then you must register with the city’s Marriage Bureau before the wedding takes place. (Click here to read more about the process in New York.)

If all this becoming ordained and licensed and registering is starting to sound like more of a hassle than it’s worth, please don’t worry! We do everything we can to make ordination simple and stress-free, and registration with your state or county is actually pretty easy — if you follow the instructions properly and submit your forms and documents to them in a timely manner. (And yes, we include all the forms and documents you’ll need as part of your ordination packet.)

Earlier, we mentioned that there’s one educational element that’s required, and it’s very important: you must rehearse the ceremony, and then rehearse it again and again, and again. If you’ve never performed a ceremony before, being prepared and paying attention to the details is more important than anything else — our article on this subject will help guide you through the process.

That’s it! You can begin the process of becoming ordained by clicking here, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to review the requirements for your state, or contact us directly for information about your specific situation by using the form below:


Ready to become a wedding officiant? Please click here now!


Feature photo by Christina Shin via Flickr Creative Commons.

Advanced Training As A Celebrant For All Of Life’s Events

While most states have little or no educational or training requirements for those performing ceremonies, First Nation strongly encourages its clergy members seeking either basic or advanced training to consider the programs offered by the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.

Norman Rockwell "Marriage License" (1955)If you are pursuing a career as a Celebrant, or if you are considering a career as a ceremonial minister, the courses offered by CF&I provide the perfect fundamental education in all aspects of this vital work. Course training covers a wide spectrum of ceremonial duties, including weddings, funerals, vow renewal, baby welcoming, and coming-of-age celebrations, among others, toward certification as a Life-Cycle Celebrant™.

The Celebrant Institute’s faculty is highly regarded, with extensive real-world experience. (Several faculty members are notable First Nation ceremonial ministers.) Courses are held throughout the year.

To find out more about the Celebrant Institute’s training and certification courses, please click here.

In addition, First Nation extends a 20% discount on complete ordination and other services to Celebrant Institute alumni and students. Please enter CFI20 in the “Discount” field when completing your order at

Our inset image is Norman Rockwell’s “The Marriage License” (1954), which appeared on the cover of the The Saturday Evening Post’s June 11, 1955, edition. Did you know you can get married at a replica of this scene at the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts? You can!

Life-Cycle Celebrant™ is a trademark of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute. First Nation is not otherwise affiliated with the Celebrant Institute, but we certainly love and appreciate the work they do!

Sage Advice For The First-Time Wedding Officiant

We received an inquiry this week from a minister who was getting ready to perform her very first marriage ceremony this coming weekend.

Getting asked to perform your first wedding progresses very quickly from “Sure, I’ll do it!” to “Yipes, what do I actually do?”

A wedding ceremony is a beautiful but complex thing. As the designated Officiant, you may not have realized it before, but you’re in charge. It’s the bridal couple’s show, but you’re guiding them through the ceremony. Once you arrive at the altar (or the other designated spot where the vows will be spoken) you’re running things.

What things? Every thing. You’re essentially hosting and narrating the program — you are literally the master of ceremonies! Speak in a voice that everyone can hear, even those in the back row — and especially great grandma in the second row. She doesn’t want to miss a word!

The bridal couple will be following your lead, so make sure that every “repeat after me” is followed by short and simple vows for each of them to repeat. Test it out on yourself, because if you can’t remember more than four or five tongue-twisting words to repeat (with your nerves frayed, and a big audience of family and friends staring at you) neither will the couple!

But that’s not everything

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