Before officiating weddings in the District of Columbia 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 plenty of available options by doing a quick Google search. 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 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.
That being said, if you decide to seek ordination through another organization, that is your right.
No matter where you choose to get ordained, once you are a minister you will then need to register with the District of Columbia Courts Marriage Bureau. The name may be long but the registration process is actually quite easy!
Minister Registration Office – DC Marriage Bureau
The DC Marriage Bureau used to have a byzantine application process. A few years ago American Marriage Ministries lobbied the courts to simplify the process. They did, and today minister’s only need to complete a one page form to register to officiate weddings in the District.
Required Applications to Officiate Weddings in Washington DC
There are two applications that you can submit to be granted authority to celebrate marriages in Washington DC. There is the Officiant Application and the Temporary Officiant Application.
Which Application Should I Submit?
If you are a resident of the District of Columbia we recommend that you submit the “Officiant Application”. If you do not reside in the District of Columbia or only intend to officiate a single ceremony then we recommend that you submit the “Temporary Officiant Application”.
How Much Does Registration Cost?
If you are registering with the Officiant Application, then the fee is $35. If you are registering with the Temporary Officiant Application, then the fee is $25.
Do I Need to Submit My Ministry Credentials With My Application?
That being said, if you were ordained with American Marriage Ministries you may want to order their Minister Ordination Package.
The Minister Ordination Package is $48 and 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 Stoleand their comprehensive wedding training manual “Asked to Officiate“. That is a good deal if you are interested in the stole and the book.
Like we said, purchasing these items is not required. If this is the first wedding you will be officiating however, it doesn’t hurt to have the additional wedding training materials.
These packages also include the application forms, partially completed along with instructions on how to complete the remaining fields.
Submitting Application to the DC Marriage Bureau
Once you have all your paperwork in order you simply need to submit it to the DC Marriage Bureau. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!
The DC Marriage Bureau prefers that you submit your application in person. In extenuating circumstances they will allow applications to be submitted by mail. If you are not able to submit the application in person, then contact the Bureau and communicate with them in advance so that they will be made aware to expect your application.
Here is the address and contact information for the DC Marriage Bureau:
District of Columbia Marriage Bureau
Moultrie Courthouse Room JM-690
500 Indiana Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20001
Phone: (202) 879-4840
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm M-F
More information on the DC Registration process can be found here.
Now You Can Officiate!
If there are no complications, your application should be approved the day that it is submitted. Once approved you will have the authority to officiate weddings in the District of Columbia! Abraham Lincoln would be proud.
You next step is to prepare for the wedding ceremony. That is where you will put in most of the work. Follow the link below for more guidance on how to prepare for actually doing the officiating.