How to Get Ordained to Officiate a Wedding

Wedding ceremony, outdoors

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If you want to officiate at a wedding ceremony for friends or if you want to begin a career as a wedding officiant, there are several ways to become ordained for this purpose. You can take a traditional path through a church seminary program, or participate in a faster ordination process in order to begin officiating weddings more quickly.

Attend seminary. For most churches, this involves taking several courses over a period of a few years in order to become ordained in that church. This process will be lengthy, but at the end you will be an official minister or pastor of a church. You will be able to officiate weddings and also perform all the other duties of the clergy for that faith.

Find an ordination program online. Numerous organizations exist where you can apply for ordination online and receive a certificate online or in the mail. With this ordination certificate, you can perform weddings as a recognized clergy member.

Check with your county or state government. In some states, being an ordained member of the clergy is not sufficient to perform wedding ceremonies. For example, in Arkansas you must file your ordination paperwork with the county clerk and receive a license to officiate at weddings. In Michigan, you must be the pastor of a church within the state and actively preach in that state in order to perform weddings. In Maryland, any adult can sign a wedding certificate as clergy as long as the couple to be married recognizes him as clergy. Check with the county clerk in the county where you plan to officiate the wedding to be sure you have your ordination credentials in order before performing the ceremony.