How to become ordained to perform a marriage

Updated February 21, 2017

There are many reasons why you may want to consider becoming ordained to perform marriages and just as many reasons why you might feel it is beyond your abilities to achieve. Anyone, regardless of denomination, can become ordained to perform marriages. The process can be quick, or it can take several years, depending on the type of ordination you seek. Take into consideration your reasons for becoming ordained and your long-term goals to select the best approach.

Learn what the legal requirements are in your state. Each state has its own unique set of requirements that need to be met before you are legally able to preside over a wedding. Some states may require only that you file your location and credentials, while state licensing is mandatory in others. Check your county or city clerk's office for the exact regulations in your area.

Locate a seminary school. The most universally-accepted way to become ordained is to attend and graduate from a seminary or theological school. Ask your church or pastor to recommend a school that has been accredited by an organisation such as the Association of Theological Schools. Once you have obtained a bachelor's degree, acquire a Master of Divinity degree. Follow the guidelines for acceptance and ask your church for a letter of recommendation to assist you in gaining admission. The Master of Divinity degree may take three to four years to complete.

Seek ordination online. The Internet offers numerous websites that will allow you to become ordained online. Before deciding which website is best for you, conduct research using the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and investigate each online entity for complaints or concerns that have been posted on forums or websites that warn against scams. Once you've made an informed decision, follow the instructions as outlined on the website and pay any applicable fees.


Members of differing denominations may attend the same seminary.


It is fraudulent to submit a fictitious name when applying for ordination.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
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About the Author

Mai Bryant is a Northern California writer who specializes in writing about health-related topics, fashion and relationships. She began writing online in 2005 but has freelanced privately for more than 10 years. Bryant's eclectic professional background as a medical technician, a licensed cosmetologist, copywriter and event planner allows her to write with authority on numerous topics.