Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wedding Wednesday - Getting Ordained in the DMV

Having a friend or family member officiate your wedding is an awesome way to make your wedding unique and unbelievably special. Couples often choose to have a friend or family officiate their wedding because they have different religious affiliations, no religious affiliation whatsoever, or just because it’s kind of a neat thing to do. Make sure that the person you ask to officiate is a good public speaker, and is just as excited as you are to have him/her take part in your wedding, as it will be up to you and your officiant to write and construct the ceremony.

If your intended officiant is not already ordained, then they will need to become so (obviously!). Via the internet is by and far the quickest and easiest way. Take heed, even with the many websites out there, becoming ordained online can be a project in itself, and many states have varying requirements for an individual to legally be able to perform a wedding ceremony. Do you your homework, and make sure you have all of your ducks in a row well in advance of your wedding date. We’ve gone ahead and done some of the legwork for you!

Some top sites for becoming ordained online are listed here. The costs differ depending upon the length of the license or ordination package. The length of time it takes to become ordained varies from site to site, as well. Some are instant, while
others may take several weeks.

Universal Life Church Monestary
American Fellowship Church
Rose Ministries

Before getting ordained it is crucial to confirm your state’s requirements for performing a wedding ceremony. Each jurisdiction is different. Here are some of the requirements for officiating a wedding in our area:

In the District of Columbia, any ordained minister can perform a wedding ceremony, but they must first have approval from a superior court judge. The application must include an endorsement from someone within the same religious society already authorized to perform marriages in DC. If there is no endorser, additional documents must be submitted with the application. For a list of the required documents go to

Officiant Application Fee is $3500
No resident requirements
No expiration date

If the officiant is not ordained, and has no plans to officiate any other weddings in the future other than yours, then an Application for Temporary Authorization to Celebrate Marriage can be filed. This gives an individual temporary status as a civil celebrant to perform one wedding only.

Temp. Auth. to Celebrate Marriage Application Fee is $2500
No resident requirements
You can contact the DC Marriage Bureau at (202) 879-4847 with any questions or go to for copies of both applications and requirements.

In the State of Maryland, a marriage ceremony may be performed by “any official of a religious order authorized by the rules and customs of that order or body”. This means that as long as an individual has been ordained they can perform a wedding ceremony. No applications to the state or county are required. Although, they may at times be required to show proof or credentials. Easy peasy.

In Virginia, it is much more difficult for a minister ordained online to officiate a wedding in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but one can try!

All ordained ministers must complete registration at the County Clerk’s office and be approved by the Circuit Court. There are no resident requirements and certification is for life. The needed forms and registration fees can vary by county, as can the processing time. The average turn time in this area is approx 10 days. Please note that officiants ordained online often do not get approved. Be sure to
register well in advance of your wedding date, in case you need to go with a plan B.

It doesn’t hurt to check with the County Clerk’s office for alternative options. Fairfax County, for instance, offers a “One Time Civil Ceremony Authorization” to Fairfax County Residents for a hefty $500 + filing fees.

Good luck!

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