Before officiating weddings in Louisiana you will first need to get ordained online to become a minister. This process is as easy as finding a website that offers online ordinations.
There are plenty 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 recommending that you get ordained with American Marriage Ministries.
Why AMM? Their 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.
No matter where you choose to get ordained, once you are a minister you will then need to register with the Parish Clerk’s office that issues the Marriage License to the couple.
Minister Registration Office – Parish Clerk
There are 64 parishes in Louisiana. A “Parish” is Louisiana’s equivalent of a county. The reason Louisiana has parishes instead of counties is due to the State’s unique history.
Louisiana was once a combination of Spanish and French colonies, both of which were overseen by the Catholic Church. The Church divided the land within these colonies into “Parishes.” Each parish was run by a Catholic priest.
Louisiana was then bought by the US Government. When it came to dividing the territory into administrative districts it made more sense to use the boundaries carved by these parishes than to start from scratch. The nomenclature also stuck. That is why Louisiana has Parishes instead of Counties.
History lesson aside, we are not able to maintain up-to-date listings of all the Parishes contact info. Thankfully the Louisiana Clerks Association lists all 64 Parishes complete with their contact info.
The Marriage Officiant Registration Affidavit
No matter what Parish you plan on officiating the wedding in, you will need to complete and submit the Louisiana Marriage Officiant Registration Affidavit. The name may be long but it is a simple one page application.
Be aware that you will need to have the application notarized. If you are not familiar with the notarial process, this means that you must simply wait to sign the application until you are in the presence of a notary.
There is a good chance you can have the application notarized for free. Most bank branches have a notary on staff and provide notary services to their members at no cost. Check with your bank. If they do not provide this service a Google search will surface local notaries that provide the service for a nominal fee.
Ministry Credentials Required by the Parish Clerk
In addition to the Marriage Officiant Registration Affidavit you will also need to submit your Credentials of Ministry. The exact documents required varies depending on the Parish.
These credentials will take the form of one or both of two documents. Your Ordination Certificate and your Letter of Good Standing. Most counties will ask for your Letter of Good Standing, as that is the document that bears a live signature from a Church Officer.
Your Ordination Certificate
Your Ordination Certificate is exactly as it sounds. 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. It usually has a seal but does not have a live signature.
Your Letter of Good Standing
Your Letter of Good Standing is a more esoteric document. It is also known as a “Letter of Consent” and “Letter of Recommendation,” though Letter of Good Standing is the most commonly used term.
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 and is dated and signed.
How Do I Get My Ordination Certificate and Letter of Good Standing?
The church that ordained you will be able to provide you with the required documents. This will most likely involve a fee as these documents have to be produced and shipped.
We hope that you will choose American Marriage Ministries as your ordaining church. If not, obtaining your paperwork will be pretty similar no matter where you go.
You will have to purchase these items. As far as we can tell, none of the organizations offering online ordinations provide these documents for free. Sales of these documents is often their main, and usually only revenue stream.
Depending on who ordained you, the fee may not be much, or it may be exorbitant. The best deal you will probably find though, is through American Marriage Ministries.
You can order their Minister Ordination Package for $48. It contains both your Ordination Certificate and Letter of Good Standing as well as your Minister’s Manual, which contains useful minister registration and 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 Parish Clerk’s office, then the Minister Ordination package is your 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 and packages. Just make sure that if the Parish Clerk requires a document bearing a live signature, confirm with the church that the document you purchase bears a live signature from a Church Officer, is dated, and Notarized.
Submitting Your Ministry Credentials to the Parish Clerk
Once you have your application completing and ministry credentials in order you are ready to submit them to the Clerk’s office. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!
Ideally you would submit everything in person however we understand that that is not always possible. Talk to the Parish Clerk’s office to work out the best method of delivery.
Many Parish 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 require and there are no complications, your application should be approved within a few days. By this point you will have probably 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 Louisiana, such as minimum age and residency.
Now You Can Officiate Weddings in Louisiana!
Once you have successfully registered with the Parish Clerk you will have the authority to officiate weddings in that Parish in Louisiana!
Your next step is to prepare for the wedding ceremony. That is where you will put in the lion’s share of the work. Follow the link below for wedding training information and resources.