Before officiating weddings in Arkansas you will first need to become a minister by getting ordained online. This process is as easy as finding a website that offers online ordinations.
There are dozens of websites where you can go to do this. Most of them are free though some charge exorbitant fees. We will be openly biased in suggesting that you get ordained with American Marriage Ministries.
AMM ordination is free. They are set up specifically to help people perform marriage. And they are the only IRS Certified 501c3 Charitable Organization that offers online ordinations.
Minister Registration Office – County Clerk
There are 75 counties in Arkansas. As we are not Google, it is impossible for us to keep our own updated records of their addresses and contact info.
Luckily, the Association of Arkansas Counties has put up a website that lists all 75 Counties complete with contact info. How swell!
Simply find out which Clerk’s office you need to register with and contact them. They will let you know what documents they want to see from you as well as any application fees and additional forms.
Required Ministry Credentials for Registration
There is no statewide policy for minister registration in Arkansas. It is up to the discretion of each individual County Clerk to decide what paperwork they want from you.
This usually boils down to one or both of two documents. They are your Ordination Certificate and your Letter of Good Standing.
Your Ordination Certificate
Your Ordination Certificate is exactly as it sounds. It is…wait for it…your Certificate of Ordination! The ordination certificate, sometimes referred to as “Ministry Credentials” or “Credentials of Ministry” is the document issued by the ordaining church that bears your name and date of ordination.
Your Letter of Good Standing
Your Letter of Good Standing is a less well known document. It is also known as a “Letter of Consent” and “Letter of Recommendation”, though Letter of Good Standing is the most commonly used name.
The Letter of Good Standing carries more authority than an Ordination Certificate because it is signed, dated, and notarized. As the name implies, it is a letter stating that the minister in question is still in “Good Standing” with the church as of the date it was signed.
Ordination Certificate vs Letter of Good Standing
Here is a useful metaphor to help clarify these two documents. The Ordination Certificate is equivalent to a restaurant’s incorporation document. It is issued once and testifies that the restaurant was established on a certain date.
The Letter of Good Standing is equivalent to the restaurant’s health inspection certificate. This has to be renewed each year, just as most churches retire ministers if they are inactive for a set period of time.
The “Good Standing” means that in addition to the minister being ordained with the church they are currently active. In other words, in Good Standing.
How To Obtain the Required Documents
The church that ordained you will be able to provide you with the required documents.
We hope that you will choose American Marriage Ministries, but if not, obtaining your paperwork will be pretty similar no matter where you go. That is, by ordering your paperwork through their website.
You will have to spend some money to do this. Depending on who ordained you, it may not be much, or it may be exorbitant. The best deal you will probably find is through American Marriage Ministries.
You can order their Minister Ordination Package for $45 that contains both your Ordination Certificate and Letter of Good Standing as well as your Minister’s Manual, which contains useful wedding training information.
For $95 they offer a “Signature Wedding Officiant Package” that includes a Clergy Stole and their comprehensive wedding training manual “Asked to Officiate“. That is a good deal if you are interested in the stole and the book.
If you are just looking to get the documents you need to register with the County Clerk’s office, then the Minister Ordination package is the best value. You can also order the documents individually but you’ll be spending about as much as you would by ordering the package.
If you are not ordained with AMM, that organization will probably offer equivalent documents. Just make sure that if the County Clerk requires a Letter of Good Standing, make sure that the document you purchase bears a live signature from a Church Officer, is dated, and Notarized.
Submitting Your Ministry Credentials to the County Clerk
Once you have all your paperwork in order you simply need to submit it to the Clerk’s office. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!
Ideally you would submit your Ministry Credentials in person however we understand that that is not always possible. Talk to the Clerk’s office to work out the best method of delivery.
Most Clerk’s will accept the paperwork by mail, so long as they are made aware that it is on its way. Some Clerk’s will also accept fax (who does that anymore?) or email scans of the paperwork. However, if they require an original document with live signatures then it will have to be delivered in person or by mail.
Once the Clerk receives everything they asked for it should take no more than a day for your registration to be complete. By this point you will have spoken to someone at the Clerk’s office so you should have a good idea of what to expect.
You can also visit this page for more information on who can Officiate Weddings in Arkansas, such as minimum age and residency.
Now You Can Officiate!
Now that you have that all taken care of, you are authorized to officiate weddings in Arkansas! You still have to prepare for the wedding ceremony however. And that is where you will put in most of the work.