Wedding Officiant FAQs

  • Introduction

    Planning a wedding is a lot of work. You have numerous tasks and responsibilities. Even if you opt to hire a wedding planner, your input is required for everything. One of the decisions you need to make is who will marry you. Choosing your wedding officiant can be a challenging undertaking.

    If you have a religious background and are a regular member of a church, synagogue or other house of worship, the choice is probably easy. But if not, you may want something less traditional. You can choose a professional or ask a close friend or family member if they would be willing to officiate the ceremony. These FAQs can help you make a decision about your wedding officiant.
  • What is a wedding officiant?

    A wedding officiant, also called marriage officiant, is an individual with the legal authority to perform wedding ceremonies. Local judges and clergy members commonly act as wedding officiants. But, nearly anyone can obtain the necessary certification to become an officiant, although requirements vary from state to state.

  • What does a wedding officiant do?

    The main role of a wedding officiant is to lead and perform the marriage ceremony. They must follow state law to ensure the union becomes official. Wedding officiants draft what they’ll say at the ceremony, often with input from the engaged couple. Some of their associated duties are signing and filing the marriage license.

  • Can you officiate your own wedding?

    Officiating your own wedding is referred to as self-solemnizing. This practice is only legal in a few states, including Colorado, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Kansas, Maine, Illinois, California, and Washington, D.C. The rules governing self-solemnizing in these jurisdictions differ. All states legally recognize self-uniting marriages that are properly performed in a state where they're permitted.

  • What do you call a person who officiates a wedding?

    A marriage officiant’s title depends on who they are and what they do. For example, clergy members are called reverend, father, minister, rabbi, pastor. Common titles of civil marriage officiants are judge, your honor, magistrate, or mayor. Friends and family members who get temporary officiant status usually have no title.

  • Who can officiate a wedding?

    The individuals who are allowed to officiate a wedding depends on the laws of the state where the ceremony is performed. Typically, most clergy members and certain civil officers can perform marriage ceremonies. Many states also permit other individuals to obtain temporary officiant authorization or to become ordained to perform a marriage.

  • Can a notary officiate a wedding?

    Public notaries may perform marriage ceremonies in only a few states. They include Florida, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, and Nevada. Of course, a notary may officiate a wedding in other states if the state they’re in allows individuals to become wedding officiants, and the notary follows those guidelines.

  • How do you ask someone to officiate your wedding?

    If a couple wants a family member or close friend to officiate their wedding, there are a few creative ways to ask. Many companies that provide credentials for marriage officiants also sell “Will You Marry Us?” gift packages to help couples ask the person they’ve chosen if they'll officiate.

  • What does the officiant say at a wedding?

    The couple must make a declaration of intent, saying they’re legally committing to one another and want to enter a marriage contract. Also, the officiant has to verbally signify the couple is legally wed. Other than that, the officiant has great flexibility in what to say.

  • How much does a wedding officiant cost?

    Wedding officiant fees vary greatly. Some factors in determining cost include location, profession, experience, and relationship to the couple. There’s typically no charge with a personal officiant, although the couple may offer to pay for their certification. Professional officiants cost an average of $400 to $800, while newbies charge about $100 to $250.

  • How does someone become a wedding officiant?

    Start with a visit or a call to your county courthouse. Ask the clerk if your state permits private individuals to become wedding officiants. If so, ask if you can be ordained online. Search for an online service. Pay and complete the form to be ordained. You may need to attend a class.

  • How long does it take to become a wedding officiant?

    Online services to become ordained as a wedding officiant are usually quick and uncomplicated. Most only take about five to 10 minutes to complete the application. However, the hard copies of the necessary credentials may not arrive for about one to two weeks.

  • What do you need to be a wedding officiant?

    Clergy members and civil officers who can perform wedding ceremonies by state law must meet the qualifications for their professions. Private wedding officiants who get ordained solely to perform ceremonies typically don’t need more than a credit card and online access. But, check with your state laws to learn what’s required.

  • How do I get my wedding officiant license?

    It’s not necessary to have a license to become a wedding officiant in every state. However, states that allow private individuals to become officiants usually require that they be ordained. Many jurisdictions let you complete this process online, but be sure to review the applicable state and county statutes before getting ordained.

  • What should I wear to officiate a wedding?

    It’s best to discuss clothing options with the couple you’re marrying. Ask if they have a preference and follow their lead. If they have no input, choose an outfit that’s suitable for the type of ceremony, whether it be formal, casual, trendy, or something else.

  • How much do wedding officiants make?

    Individuals who perform weddings professionally make an average of $400 to $800 per ceremony, plus mileage fees. They may also charge a fee to participate in the wedding rehearsal. Other optional services, like personalized ceremonies and custom embellishments, may incur additional costs. It’s also customary to tip the officiant.

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