So you were recently engaged to get married — congratulations! Now the fun part — planning your wedding — begins in earnest.
On your long list of things that need to get done, you probably know who your bridesmaids will be, and you have an idea what your wedding dress will look like, and where your marriage ceremony will take place.
But do you know who will perform your wedding ceremony, the person who will guide you through your “I do’s” and pronounce you as husband and wife?
If you belong to a church, your pastor or minister will probably be your first choice as your Wedding Officiant. But what if you don’t belong to a church, which is the growing trend among more and more people?
Your first and best option is to have a friend or family member serve as your Officiant. It’s actually a very simple, inexpensive and quick process to have the person of your choice perform your marriage ceremony, and it’s 100% legal!
What’s The Process?
Depending on which state you are getting married in — click here if you already know — the person who will serve as your Officiant (or Minister, or Celebrant; the terms are interchangeable) must be legally ordained in compliance with that state’s laws.
Keep in mind that if you live in one state (let’s say, for example, Oregon) but you’re getting married in another (California, for example), then your Officiant’s ordination must comply with the laws of the state you are getting married in.
But don’t worry — your marriage will be legal in all fifty states … but your Officiant must be ordained in compliance with the laws of the state where the ceremony is taking place.
(If you are getting married outside of your home state, you must obtain your marriage license in the state where you are getting married — but that’s a different subject. If you have questions about this, ask us!)
Ordination, quite simply, is the process of having a person certified to legally perform marriage ceremonies and other rites, such as vow renewals, funerals and baptisms. Once a person is ordained, he or she receives a minister’s license — usually as part of the same process, for the same low fee — and then can proceed with performing your ceremony.
As we mentioned, the process of ordination is simple, and it doesn’t take much time to accomplish. Only one state — Nevada — has a strict educational requirement; all other states only require that your Officiant is legally ordained and licensed, is of legal age (usually 18 years old) and is competent to perform the ceremony, which includes making sure that your marriage license is properly completed, signed and returned to the issuing clerk’s office following your ceremony.
To check your state’s specific rules and regulations for getting ordained to perform weddings, please click here.
You can actually submit the request for ordination yourself on behalf of the person you’ve chosen to perform your marriage ceremony. It adds one more item to your long wedding checklist, but if you want to make sure it gets done, you can do it yourself!
Important To Keep In Mind…
One of the biggest positives in this is that you get to include one more person in your wedding party — perhaps you wanted to include your Uncle Otto or your Cousin Carla in the ceremony, but couldn’t find a place for them.
The simple solution: select Otto or Carla to perform your marriage ceremony! Get them legally ordained right now, and you can cross that item off your list today!
Are there any potential problems? Well, to be certain, you should feel confident that Otto or Carla aren’t shy or afraid to be “up on stage.” Do they have big personalities? Are they good around large groups of people?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, that’s great!
On the other hand, if you’re concerned that Uncle Otto might have a few too many cocktails before the ceremony begins, or that Cousin Carla has a tendency to be late and flakes out from time to time, then you may want to move on to Plan B and select someone else as your Wedding Officiant.
Finally, if you didn’t request your Officiant’s ordination yourself, or if he or she says they are already ordained … trust, but verify! Demand that they provide you with a copy of their credentials — either their certificate of ordination or letter of good standing from the ordaining organization — and file that copy away with your important papers. The Officiant’s credentials should have his or her name printed on the documents, not just hand-written in by themselves.
You can (and should) contact the ordaining organization to make sure that your Officiant is listed in their database, and that his or her status is current, active and valid in your state. Your Officiant must provide you with the contact information for the organization that granted their ordination. (Our contact information is right here, in case you need it. Drop us a line!)
The bottom line: without a copy of their credentials, there is no proof that the person is legally authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in your state! Without proof, the status of your marriage could be in jeopardy.
♥ For more information on ordination and a simple guide to your state’s rules and regulations, please click here.