We’d like to thank Brides magazine for the shout-out in their recent article, “Friends Officiating Weddings 101: Everything You Need to Know.”
Along with noting that having a friend or family member perform your marriage ceremony can be more intimate and personal — not to mention cheaper — than hiring a professional Wedding Officiant, the article also importantly points out that there are pitfalls, not the least of which is that all Officiants — whether friend or pro — must be ordained in accordance with all state and local laws.
While you may be concerned about the elements of your wedding ceremony (which we cover here), two key elements in the process of getting married are your marriage license and if your Officiant is legally authorized to perform your ceremony.
You’ll have to take care of obtaining your marriage license on your own, but we’re here to make sure that your Wedding Officiant is legally authorized in compliance with the laws in the location where your ceremony will take place.
In most states, it’s a very simple and inexpensive process to get your chosen Officiant ordained and licensed to perform your ceremony — the fee for a one-day, single-ceremony license is less than $11 and is valid in all but a few states.
(To see if single-ceremony ordination is available where you’re getting married, select your state from the listing here.)
There are a few states where your Officiant will have to go through an extra step or two, but it’s not complicated and it’s not a huge hassle. For example, in Ohio and Massachusetts, Officiants must register with the Secretary of State’s office prior to performing the marriage ceremony. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Minnesota have Officiant registration requirements, while Vermont and New Hampshire only require ceremonial ministers to register if they do not reside in the state.
New York has a slightly tricky twist: if the ceremony is taking place in one of the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or The Bronx) then your Officiant must register with the city’s Marriage Bureau in Manhattan. Again, it takes a few extra steps, but it’s not a difficult process — we make it as practically painless as possible. (Click here to find out more about New York ordination.) The Brides article is slightly incorrect, however, in one regard: the Officiant does not have to appear in person at the City Clerk’s office to register if he or she resides outside of the five boroughs; the process can be completed online if you live elsewhere.
Two states that make it excruciatingly difficult for Wedding Officiants are Nevada and Virginia — but there are simple ways around the roadblocks they put up. (We cover that subject elsewhere.)
Another important point to remember is that you must obtain your marriage license in the state in which your marriage ceremony will take place — for example, if you live in New York but your ceremony is taking place in Vermont, you must obtain your marriage license in Vermont (not New York!) and your Officiant’s ordination must comply with Vermont’s laws and regulations.
(You may be wondering about that marriage license from a state you don’t live in, but don’t worry: if the marriage license is properly completed after the ceremony and returned in a timely manner to the clerk’s office that issued it, your marriage will be recognized as legal and valid everywhere.)
Here’s the bottom line: if you want a friend or family member to perform your marriage ceremony, go for it! Click here and select your location to learn more, and if you have any questions, get in touch with us today — we’re always here to make your wedding day worry-free!
The magnificent feature photo (top) is by Nirav Patel of San Francisco. Learn more about Nirav here.