How to become a wedding officiant

Updated February 21, 2017

Choosing to become a wedding officiant can be a delightful way to perform a necessary service while enjoying a profitable income. Wedding officiants who are independent from organized religion often have complete wedding-planning businesses. A successful wedding business often requires travel to unusual or romantic getaways for the ceremonies.

Become a wedding officiant when you are recognized by an established religious organization. You may be required to complete a series of studies, or a post-graduate degree may be necessary before you can perform the marriage ceremony.

Assume the position of pastor of a congregation and become recognized by the state as one who is qualified to be a wedding officiant. In most states, the role of pastor is adequate to meet the criteria.

Complete an application online to obtain certification as a member of the clergy. Read the information carefully to determine if the site is recognized in your state as a legal wedding resource.

Become a deacon to perform marriage rites. In some church denominations, such as Catholic and Episcopal, one in the position of deacon can legally perform a wedding ceremony. Some restrictions may apply based on the church's specific requirements.

Get a job as a ship captain on a cruise ship. You will have to pass rigorous exams following formal education requirements, but the result could be a career traveling to the most popular vacation spots with the authority to perform weddings at sea.

Take on the political journey to become a justice of the peace (JP). Becoming a recognized wedding officiant is just one of many roles of the JP. Elopements and those who desire non-religious marriage ceremonies often choose a justice of the peace to perform the ceremony.

Check with your state to determine if just anyone can perform a wedding. Some states will grant a permit for anyone to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Marriages for 1 day only. This provision allows a family member or friend to officiate the wedding. Check the Marriage Laws website to investigate (see Resources below).

Become a chaplain in the military to officiate at military weddings. This requires being a commissioned officer in some branch of the military.


Be aware that in addition to becoming a licensed or ordained minister, some states require you to actually pastor a congregation before you can legally perform a wedding. Some states require you to file a copy of your ordination certificate prior to performing the ceremony.

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