Officiant Registration in Virginia

Virginia is the one State in the country that systematically discriminates against all ministers that were ordained online.


Since May 24th, 2010, many County Clerks in Virginia have systematically denied ministers ordained online the right to perform marriage. Many clerks cite a letter written by an Opinions Counsel of the Attorney General’s Office. They reference this letter as justification to refuse applications from ministers ordained online.

While some County Clerks may agree with the opinions expressed within the Opinions Counsel letter, it is not settled case law and as defined by Virginia Code § 2.2-505, it carries no legal weight. County Clerks do not have the authority to judge the validity of your credentials or implement their interpretation of the law.

According to the religious non-establishment clause of the first amendment, all ministers have the right to perform marriage in Virginia, regardless of how they were ordained.

Officiant registration can be a complicated process in Virginia. There are 95 counties in Virginia and some County Clerks will happily process your application to officiate weddings. The difficulty is in contacting a County Clerk’s office that will allow you to apply.

American Marriage Ministries Policy in Virginia

American Marriage Ministries has instituted a policy of providing their ministers who want to attempt to register to officiate weddings in Virginia with their Virginia Minister Ordination Package at no cost. In addition to your Ministry Credentials, the package includes their Articles of Incorporation, IRS 501c3 Certification, Bylaws, and more documentation to help with registration.

You Can Register With Any County Clerk

One important point is that you do not need to register with the County Clerk in the county where the wedding will take place. Successful registration with any County Clerk gives you permission to officiate weddings anywhere in the State. This means that you have 95 opportunities for successful registration, if you are willing to take the time.

This does not guarantee your successful registration but it does reduce the expense of going through the effort.

An Alternative To Registration With The County Clerk

Although this is not ideal, there is an alternative to the rigmarole of minister registration in Virginia.

The couple can file for the marriage license and have it signed by the county judge. Doing so takes care of all the legal components to the wedding.

You can then officiate the ceremony for the couple as you normally would without the responsibility of signing the marriage license. This method also saves you the trouble of having to register with a County Clerk’s office. As this can be a lengthy process, this alternative may be preferable anyways.

Much of the information presented here was sourced from this page.

Learn More About How to Officiate Weddings

Regardless of pathway you choose to officiating a wedding in Virginia, most of your work will involve preparing for the wedding ceremony. Follow the link below for useful wedding training information.

Continue To How To Officiate Weddings ▶︎