Officiant Registration in Delaware

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

New Castle Clerk of the Peace

Address:

800 N. French St. Second Floor

WilmingtonDE 19801

 

Phone:

302-395-7780

 

Office Hours:

8:00am – 4:00pm Mon. – Fri. – Closed Noon – 1 p.m.

Kent Clerk of the Peace

Address:

555 Bay Rd Dover

DE 19901

 

Phone:

(302) 744-2346  / Fax: (302) 760 – 4763

 

Email:

[email protected]

 

Office Hours:

8:00am-5:00pm Mon. – Fri.

Licenses are issued between the hours of 8:00am – 4:15pm M-F

Sussex Clerk of the Peace

Address:

Sussex County Marriage Bureau

2nd Floor, Room 226

2 The Circle

P.O. Box 29

Administrative Office Building

Georgetown, DE 19947

 

Phone:

(302) 853-1717

 

Email:

[email protected]

 

Office Hours: 

Monday – Friday

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Appointment Only

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 $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

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:

  1. Contact the County Clerk in the county where the wedding is to take place.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Continue To How To Officiate Weddings ▶︎

 


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

Current through 2020 Legislative Session Act 292

Section 106 – Individuals authorized to solemnize marriages; requirements to solemnize marriage; penalty

(a)

(1) For purposes of this subsection, “chief executive officer” means the mayor of an incorporated municipality. If an incorporated municipality does not have a mayor, then “chief executive officer” means the president of the legislative body of the incorporated municipality. If an incorporated municipality does not have a mayor or a president of the legislative body, then “chief executive officer” means the presiding officer of the legislative body of the incorporated municipality.

(2)The following individuals over 18 years of age may solemnize a marriage between individuals who may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation:

a. A clergyperson or minister of any religion who resides in the State of Delaware, provided he or she is registered with the Clerk of the Peace in the county where he or she resides.

b. A clergyperson or minister of any religion who does not reside in the State of Delaware, provided he or she is registered with the Clerk of the Peace in the county where the marriage ceremony is to be performed.

c. A current or former judge of this State’s Supreme Court, Superior Court, Family Court, Court of Chancery, Court of Common Pleas, or Justice of the Peace Court.

d. A current or former federal judge or magistrate with jurisdiction over this State.

e. A current or former Clerk of the Peace of a county of this State, within the county in which the Clerk holds or held that office.

f. The chief executive officer of an incorporated municipality of this State, within the corporate limits of that municipality.

(3) For good cause being shown, the Clerk of the Peace for the county in which a marriage is to be performed may allow by written authorization all of the following to solemnize a marriage between individuals who may lawfully enter into the matrimonial relation:

a. A current or former judge of another state’s judiciary.

b. A current or former federal judge or magistrate with jurisdiction over a state other than this State.

c. A current Clerk of the Peace from another county within this State.

(4) Marriages shall be solemnized in the presence of at least 2 reputable witnesses who are at least 18 years of age and who shall sign the certificate of marriage as prescribed by this chapter. Marriages may be solemnized or contracted according to the forms and usages of any religious society or in an entirely secular manner. No marriage shall be solemnized or contracted without the production of a license issued pursuant to this chapter.

(b) The Clerk of the Peace in each county shall maintain an online registry through which clergypersons or ministers of any religion must register.

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) Once registered with a Clerk of the Peace in any county, a registrant will be authorized to solemnize marriages statewide.

(c) Any clergyperson or minister who, while not registered in accordance with this Section, solemnizes a marriage shall be subject to a non-criminal penalty imposed by the Clerk of the Peace in the county where the marriage was performed, which shall include suspension or revocation of authorization to solemnize further marriages in the State of Delaware.

(d) In the case of absence or disability of the duly elected Clerk of the Peace, the chief deputy or, if there is no chief deputy, a deputy or acting deputy employed in the office of and appointed by the Clerk of the Peace, shall be authorized to solemnize marriages.

(e) Whoever, not being authorized by this section, solemnizes a marriage, shall be fined $100, and in default of the payment of such fine shall be imprisoned not more than 30 days, and such marriage shall be void, unless it is in other respects lawful and is consummated with the full belief of either of the parties in its validity.

(f) Other than as provided in this subsection, nothing in this section shall be construed to require any individual, including any clergyperson or minister of any religion, authorized to solemnize a marriage to solemnize any marriage, and no such authorized individual who fails or refuses for any reason to solemnize a marriage shall be subject to any fine or other penalty for such failure or refusal. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, a Clerk of the Peace who issues a marriage license, or a deputy thereof, shall be required to perform a solemnization of such marriage if requested by the applicants for such license.

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.;