Before officiating weddings in Delaware 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 (Clerk of the Peace)
As of 2020 the State of Delaware has recently updated their laws regarding officiant registration. Prior to 2020, no officiant registration was required in Delaware. According to the new law, all officiants are required to register with the county clerk in the county where the marriage is to take place.
(b) The Clerk of the Peace in each county shall maintain an online registry through which clergypersons or ministers of any religion must register.
- Upon registering, registrants shall receive a registration card online bearing the registrant’s personal registration number. That registration number must be entered on the Certificate of Marriage of each marriage ceremony performed by the registrant.
- Once registered with a Clerk of the Peace in any county, a registrant’s name will be added to a Statewide Registry accessible to the public online.
- Once registered with a Clerk of the Peace in any county, a registrant will be authorized to solemnize marriages statewide.
There are 3 counties in Delaware. These are: Newcastle County, Kent County, and Sussex County. So at least it should be pretty clear where you need to register. To save you some time, here is the contact info for the three Delaware Counties:
800 N. French St. Second Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801
8:00am – 4:00pm Mon. – Fri. – Closed Noon – 1 p.m.
555 Bay Rd Dover
(302) 744-2346 / Fax: (302) 760 – 4763
8:00am-5:00pm Mon. – Fri.
Licenses are issued between the hours of 8:00am – 4:15pm M-F
Sussex County Marriage Bureau
2nd Floor, Room 226
2 The Circle
P.O. Box 29
Administrative Office Building
Georgetown, DE 19947
Monday – Friday
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The office is closed on holidays.
IMPORTANT – Delaware Officiant Registration
There is an important wrinkle to be aware of regarding officiant registration in Delaware. Though the State of Delaware has recently updated their laws to require officiant registration, they still HAVE NOT IMPLEMENTED an officiant registration process. This means that though officiant registration is required, there is yet no process to register as an officiant in Delaware.
The good people at American Marriage Ministries have been in contact with State officials in Delaware. As soon as the State clarifies how the officiant registration process works they (and we) will update our instructions accordingly. As of February of 2021 there has been no updates on how the Delaware officiant registration process is going to work.
In the meantime, AMM has been informed by State officials that until the State codifies their officiant registration process, officiants can continue to officiate weddings as they did prior to this new law. This means that until a registration procedure is set in stone, officiants can continue to officiate weddings in Delaware. To be on the safe side and as a courtesy we recommend that you contact the appropriate Clerk’s office in advance of the wedding to check in with them.
Whether they are enforcing a registration process or not, it is a good practice to let them know you will be officiating a wedding in their county. And though there is currently no officiant registration process at the moment, there will be in the near future. So if the wedding you are planning to officiate is happening six months from now, make sure to check back for any updates regarding the officiant registration process.
Required Ministry Credentials for Registration
Until the State of Delaware clarifies what form of authentication they would like to see from wedding officiants we cannot say with any certainty what specific documents they will require. However we do know that if they will require ministry credentials, it will come in the form of your Ordination Certificate and/or your Letter of Good Standing.
Your Ordination Certificate
Your Ordination Certificate is exactly as it sounds, it is your Certificate confirming you were ordained. 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 $48 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 $98 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
As stated above, until the State of Delaware codifies their officiant registration process, you can continue to officiate weddings in Delaware. We will update our instructions accordingly as we receive clarification from the State. For the time being we recommend that you take the following steps:
- Contact the County Clerk in the county where the wedding is to take place.
- Inform them that you have been made aware of new officiant registration requirements in Delaware and ask the Clerk’s office if they have finalized their officiant registration process and if there are any government forms you need to complete.
- Offer to send them copies or originals of your ministry credentials (Ordination Certificate and Letter of Good Standing) for them to keep on file until they have codified their officiant registration process.
Now You Can Officiate!
Once you speak with the Clerk’s office and better understand what steps (if any) you need to take, you will have taken care of the officiant registration side of officiating a wedding in Delaware. You still have to prepare for the wedding ceremony however. And that is where you will put in most of the work.
For your reference, here is the full text of the recently updated Delaware Marriage Law that requires officiant registration.
Delaware Marriage Law – Del. Code tit. 13 § 106
13 Del. C. § 106
Amended by Laws 2019, ch. 95,s 1, eff. 1/1/2020.
Amended by Laws 2015, ch. 210,s 1, eff. 4/1/2016.
Amended by Laws 2013, ch. 19,s 2, eff. 7/1/2013.
Code 1852, §§ 1438-1440; 17 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 9; 26 Del. Laws, c. 244, § 6; 27 Del. Laws, c. 261, § 2; Code 1915, §§ 2141, 2993; 32 Del. Laws, c. 182, § 1; Code 1935, §§ 2434, 3486; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 106; 49 Del. Laws, c. 220, § 12; 54 Del. Laws, c. 126, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 129, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 34, § 1; 63 Del. Laws, c. 21, §§1, 2; 63 Del. Laws, c. 403, §1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 30, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 307, §§ 1, 2; 71 Del. Laws, c. 289, § 2; 72 Del. Laws, c. 82, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 113, § 1; 76 Del. Laws, c. 24, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 272, §§ 1 – 3.;