How to Become an Officiant

Three Methods:Learning the Requirements in Your AreaBecoming OrdainedStarting a Professional Officiant Business

It's easier than ever to become an officiant, whether you've just been asked to preside over a friend's wedding or are looking to become a professional officiant. Many couples choose friends or officiants that provide interfaith and intercultural options for their wedding ceremonies. Before you begin, there are important state requirements you should know about in order to officiate.

Method 1
Learning the Requirements in Your Area

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    Decide if you need to become ordained online or if you can simply apply for a temporary officiant license. Several states offer a license that is good for one day and you can apply directly to the county clerk's office.[1] Notary publics are allowed to officiate weddings in some states without additional ordination. Check to see what is allowed in your state.
    • If you are planning to start an officiating business, you're required to actually become an officiant or hire one.[2]
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    Research the laws for the state where you'll be officiating. While each state differs and laws change, many states expect that you're over 18 and have completed an officiant program. Residency requirements vary, but all states require that you are part of an organization with the authority to officiate.
    • Some states have more stringent rules, such as:
      • You must be a minister in an organized church in the same state.
      • You have to provide a letter of good standing from the organization you represent.
      • You must be a resident of the same state.[3]
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    Determine if your state requires you to register with the county clerk. Registration rules vary widely by state, with some states always, sometimes, or never requiring officiants to file. There are also states that don't require official registration, but ordination documents must be available to government offices.[4]
    • Registration is mandatory in:
      • the District of Columbia
      • Hawaii
      • Massachusetts
      • Ohio
      • West Virginia
      • Louisiana
      • Minnesota
      • Nevada
      • Oklahoma
      • Virginia
      • Connecticut
    • Note that sometimes registration is required for non-residents of the state, whereas residents don't have to file.[5]
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    Register with the county clerk's office, if required by the state. You'll submit an application that usually contains a letter of good standing from someone within your congregation or community and your ordination credentials. You may also be required to pay a small application fee.
    • If you become ordained online, you may want to pay for an officiant package that includes your printed, signed, and sealed officiant certification. Many programs even offer to include the letter of good standing and provide extra information to the county clerk.
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    Submit your registration application. You'll typically need to wait a few days before your application is processed. If it is accepted, then you are allowed to begin officiating.

Method 2
Becoming Ordained

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    Research programs and organizations online. Find an organization with a philosophy or principles that match your own. The site should be professional and offer certification.
    • If you are looking to create a professional officiating business, taking online officiating courses will bolster your credibility and allow you to confidently answer questions from clients.
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    Compare several organizations before you request ordination or take an online course. Call them and speak to someone directly. If you leave a message, see how long it takes for them to call you back. This will give you an indication of their availability when you need help.
    • Consider the time it will take to become an officiant. While most online programs offer instant authorization, others can take time to officially process your request. Be aware of any time delay if you need to officiate on short notice.
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    Fill out the online request form for the organization you've picked. These are usually straightforward and ask you to confirm that you'll uphold the organization's values and principles. Pay any required fees.
    • Print any certification documents once you've been approved. Get a hard copy of your credentials--one that has an original signature and a seal. Make sure your credentials are professional (not just a xeroxed copy or an email) so you can present it to couples. This will further validate your professionalism.

Method 3
Starting a Professional Officiant Business

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    Decide what to call your business. Once you've become an officiant, you can simply go by your name and credentials, or you can create a professional business name. This can be descriptive about your location or romantic. If you create a business name, check to make sure no other officiants in the area currently use the same name.[6]
    • You'll need to register your business and begin keeping track of business expenses and income. Consider working with an accountant.
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    Make a business website. You should purchase your domain name and make sure your site is easy to navigate.[7] Include pages about what services you offer, information about yourself, contact information, and positive references.
    • You should also set up a professional email account that you can list on your website. This is a good way to separate your work and personal correspondence and shows professionalism.
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    Create professional letterhead and business cards. This can be done inexpensively through online printing. You should also make a brochure to provide to potential clients. Pack it full of tips, sample vows and a bio about yourself that is warm and welcoming.[8]
    • Don't print your business materials on cheap paper or use low-quality printers. Clients will be looking for quality, and professional materials will lend credibility.
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    Advertise online and in local publications. Money well spent on advertising will bring dividends your way. Place ads in newspapers, on community boards at the library, and other public places. Work with a wedding planner or event coordinator who can then refer couples to you.[9]
    • Attend wedding and event shows that feature informative booths. Be prepared with business information for prospective clients.
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    Officiate for free when you start out. Offer to officiate for friends and family in order to get some experience. Keep information and reviews to put in a portfolio which you can show clients.[10] Start your fee structure a little below the going rate in your area. Once you have performed a few weddings, you will have letters of recommendation to include in your brochure or portfolio and you can gradually raise your fees.
    • Consider offering discounts to veterans and the disabled. You will feel good about your decision, and others will benefit and thank you for it.


  • Officiants often lead other ceremonies, such as funerals and baptisms. Decide if those are services you'd like to offer.


  • Remember that all states have different laws on becoming an officiant. Check with the county clerk's office for specific requirements.

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