How To Become A Wedding Officiant

Do I need to be an ordained minister to officiate a wedding?

Have you ever attended a wedding, and felt the joy of playing a role in it? Being a part of someone’s big day is a great honor, and being asked to officiate it is a wonderful request, but preparing to perform this duty is vital. So, you might be wondering if you are required to be an ordained minister in order to be allowed to perform a marriage ceremony.

It may come as a surprise but not everyone who acts to officiate a wedding is an ordained minister. They could, instead, be:

Unordained Wedding Ministers 

These can be pastors or ministers that follow their own interpretation of the bible and lead a congregation of believers that practice in the same way. 

Notary Public

Serves as a witness to verify that both parties are getting married with consent. A notary public sees to it that the marriage license is signed in their presence and can also officiate a wedding ceremony, although, in some states, they are not allowed to do so. Be sure to check regulations in your state. For those wanting to become an ordained minister, you can also get ordained online: websites such as the American Marriage Ministries (AMM) offer this facility. 


Judges are appointed and elected officials that can perform civil ceremonies. They usually do this in courtrooms, but sometimes they can also officiate at a formal wedding. 

County Clerks

Aside from issuing marriage licenses, they can also perform a wedding in some states. However, not all County Clerks are required to provide their services. 

Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a day

In California, several counties allow you to perform a nuptial ceremony. All you need to do is pay a small fee and undertake a short course to become a Deputy Marriage Commissioner for a day. Here’s a list of counties that allow this:

  • Alameda County
  • Butte County
  • Colusa County
  • Contra Costa County
  • El Dorado County
  • Humboldt County – pg. 14.
  • Inyo County
  • Lake County
  • Los Angeles County
  • Marin County
  • Mariposa County
  • Merced County
  • Napa County
  • Placer County
  • Riverside County
  • Sacramento County
  • San Bernardino County
  • San Diego County
  • San Francisco County
  • San Joaquin County
  • San Luis Obispo County
  • San Mateo County
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Santa Clara County
  • Santa Cruz County
  • Sierra County
  • Siskiyou County
  • Solano County
  • Sonoma County
  • Trinity County
  • Tulare County
  • Ventura County
  • Yolo County

Secular Celebrants

If you’re an Atheist or a Secular Humanist, you can still perform a non-religious wedding ceremony. In fact, in some states such as Indiana, you can become a secular celebrant.


As a lawyer, you can ask a judge’s permission or not (depending on the practice in your state) to perform a wedding. This can be in a lawyer’s office or as part of a formal wedding. 

Although it may not be a requirement for you to be an ordained minister to perform wedding ceremonies, there’s no reason not to become one if you wish to! As the process is all completed online, it’s easy using the AMM website.